History of Ireland

Brief History of Ireland Abridged

A brief tour of the history of Ireland, a European country, in a summarized way.

Ancient Ireland

The first humans arrived in Ireland between 7,000 and 6,000 BC after the end of the last ice age. The early Irish lived by farming, fishing, and gathering food such as plants and shellfish.

Stone Age hunters used to live by the sea or on the banks of rivers and lakes where food was abundant. They hunted animals such as deer and wild boar. They also hunted birds and seals with harpoons.

Around 4,000 BC agriculture was introduced to Ireland. Stone Age farmers raised sheep, pigs, and cattle, as well as crops. They probably lived in wood-framed huts covered with grass and thatch with reeds.

Farmers made tools from stone, bone, and horn. They also made pottery. For centuries, farmers and hunters co-existed, but the old hunter-gatherer lifestyle slowly died out.

Stone age farmers were the first to significantly affect Ireland’s environment as they cleared areas of woodland for agriculture.

They were also the first to abandon monuments in the form of burial mounds, known as burrows. Stone Age farmers sometimes cremated their dead and then buried the remains in earthen-covered stone galleries.

They also created burial places called dolmens, which consist of huge upright stones with horizontal stones on top, and passage tombs that have a central stone-lined and roofed aisle with burial chambers leading into it. The passage tombs were covered with mounds of earth.

Around 2,000 BC bronze was introduced to Ireland and was used to make tools and weapons. Stone circles were also erected in Ireland by Bronze Age people. They also built crannogs, or lake dwellings, which were easy to defend.

Then, around 500 BC, the Celts came to Ireland. They brought iron tools and weapons. The Celts were a warlike people. (According to Roman writers, they were passionately fond of fighting) and built stone forts throughout Ireland. At that time Ireland was divided into many small kingdoms and war between them was frequent. Fights often took place in chariots.

The priests of the Celts were called Druids and they practiced polytheism (worship of many gods). At the top of Celtic society were the kings and aristocrats. Below them were the free men who were farmers.

They could have a good economic situation or they could be very poor. In the background were slaves. Divorce and remarriage are nothing unusual in Celtic society and polygamy is common among the wealthy.

The arrival of Christianity

In the 4th century Christianity spread to Ireland, probably through trade with England and France. In the year 431, Pope Celestine sent a man named Palladio to Ireland. However, he was killed shortly after his arrival.

Then, in the year 432, a man named Patrick came to Ireland. Patrick was probably born between 390 and 400 years old. According to tradition, he lived in the west of England until he was captured by Irish raiders at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. Eventually, Patrick managed to escape back to England. However, he eventually returned to Ireland and was a missionary until his death in 461.

Patrick tried to organize the church in Ireland along ‘ Roman ‘ lines with the bishops as leaders. However, the Irish church soon changed to a monastery-based system with Abbots as leaders.

500 to 800 was the golden age of the Irish church. Many monasteries were founded throughout Ireland and soon the Irish sent missionaries to other parts of Europe such as Scotland and Northern England. Irish monks also kept Greco-Roman learning alive during the Middle Ages.

In Irish monasteries learning and the arts flourished. One of the greatest arts was the making of decorated books called illuminated manuscripts. The most famous of these is the Book of Kells, which was probably made in the early 9th century. However, this golden age ended with Viking raids.

Vikings in Ireland

The Vikings first attacked Ireland in the year 795. They sacked monasteries. They also took women and children as slaves. However, the Vikings were not only raiders. They were also merchants and craftsmen. In the 9th century they founded the first cities in Ireland: Dublin,

Wexford, Cork and Limerick. They also gave Ireland its name, a combination of the Gaelic word Eire and the Viking word for land. Over time, the Vikings settled down. They intermarried with the Irish and accepted Christianity.

Around the year 940 the great king Brian Boru was born. By this time the Danes had conquered much of the kingdom of Munster. Brian defeated them in several battles. In 968 he recaptured Cashel, the capital of Munster. After 976 Brian was King of Munster and in 1002 he became High King of Ireland.

However, in 1014 Leinster, the people of Dublin and the Danes joined forces against him. Brian fought and defeated them at the Battle of Clontarf on April 23, 1014, though he killed himself. This victory ended the Viking threat to Ireland.

The English invasion

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries the church in Ireland flourished again. At the beginning and middle of the 12th century it was reformed. Synods (church meetings) were held at Cashel in 1101, at Rath Breasail in 1111 and at Kells in 1152. The church was reorganized along diocesan lines and the bishops became the leaders rather than the Abbots.

However, Pope Adrian IV (actually an Englishman named Nicholas Breakspear) was not satisfied. He was determined to bring the Irish church to ruin. In 1155 he authorized the English king Henry II to invade Ireland to order the church.

However, Henry did not immediately invade Ireland. Instead, Dermait MacMurrough, the King of Leinster, brought events to a head. In 1166, another king, Tiernan O’Rourke, forced MacMurrough to flee Ireland. However, MacMurrough asked the English King Henry II for help. Henry gave him permission to recruit in England.

MacMurrough enlisted the support of a man named Richard FitzGilbert of Clare (better known as Strongbow) to help him reclaim his kingdom. In return, MacMurrough promised that Strongbow could marry his daughter and become King of Leinster after him.

MacMurrough returned to South Leinster in 1167. The first English soldiers arrived in 1169. They landed at Bannow Bay in County Wexford and soon captured Wexford town. The High King, Rory O’Connor led an army against the English, but Dermait struck a deal with him. He agreed to submit to O’Connor as High King.

However, the following year, 1170, Strongbow led an army into Ireland, capturing Waterford and Dublin. The King of Dublin set sail. However, the following year he returned with a Norwegian army, but some English knights rode out and defeated them.

Askluv was captured and executed. Next, Rory O’Connor led an army into Dublin and besieged the city. However, the English broke out and made a surprise attack, defeating the Irish.

Henry II became alarmed that Strongbow was becoming too powerful and ordered all English soldiers to return to England by Easter 1171. Strongbow made Henry an offer. He agreed to submit to King Henry and accept him as Lord if he was allowed to continue. Henry decided to accept the offer on the condition that he could have the cities of Dublin, Waterford and Wexford.

Meanwhile, Dermatit died and Strongbow became King of Leinster. English King Henry landed in Ireland in October 1171. Strongbow submitted to him. Just like most of the Irish kings. In 1175 Rory O’Connor submitted to Henry by the Treaty of Windsor.

Ireland in the Middle Ages

In the early 13th century, the English extended their control over all of Ireland, except for part of Connacht and western Ulster. The English also founded the cities of Athenry, Drogheda, Galway and New Ross. The first Irish Parliament was convened in 1264, but it only represented the Anglo-Irish ruling class.

However, after 1250 the English tide ebbed. In 1258 Brian O’Neill led a rebellion. The rebellion failed when O’Neill was defeated and killed in 1260. However, the English landowners were gradually absorbed into Irish society. Many of them intermarried and slowly adopted Irish customs.

In 1366 the Kilkenny Parliament passed the Kilkenny Statutes. Anglo-Irish were prohibited from marrying native Irish. They were also prohibited from speaking Gaelic or playing the Irish game of hurling. They were not allowed to wear Irish dress or ride bareback, but were required to use a saddle. However, all of these attempts to keep the two races separate and distinct failed.

In 1315 the Scots invaded Ireland in the hope of opening a second front in their war with the English. Robert the Bruce’s brother led the Scottish army with considerable success and was even crowned King of Ireland. However, the English sent an army to oppose him and he was defeated and killed in 1318.

In 1394 the English King Richard II led an army into Ireland to try to reassert English control. The Irish submitted to him, but quickly revolted once he was gone. Richard returned in 1399, but was forced to leave due to problems at home.

Thereafter, English control continued to wane until by the mid-15th century the English ruled only Dublin and the surrounding area of ​​’Pale’ (The Palisade).

Century XVI

Henry VII (1485-1509) tried to calm Ireland down. In 1494 he made Sir Edward Poynings Lord-MP of Ireland. In 1495 Poyning persuaded the Irish parliament to pass “Poynings Act”, which stated that the Irish parliament could only meet with the permission of the English king and could only pass laws previously approved by the king and his ministers.

Henry VIII (1509-1547) continued his father’s policy of trying to bring Ireland under his control, but took a “soft, soft” approach of trying to win over the Irish through diplomacy. In 1536 the Irish parliament agreed to make Henry head of the Irish Church. In 1541 the Irish Parliament agreed to recognize Henry VIII as King of Ireland.

Under Henry’s son Edward VI (1547-1553) English policy hardened. The English waged military campaigns against Irish chiefs in Laois and Offaly who refused to submit to the king. They then made the first attempt to “plant” English loyalists in Ireland as a way of controlling the country.

Land confiscated from the Irish was given to English settlers. However, faced with attacks by the Irish, the English settlers were forced to abandon the ‘plantation’. After Edwards’ death, his sister Maria de he (1553-1558) became queen.

She carried out the first successful plantation in Ireland. Once again the people settled in Laois and Offaly, but this time they were better prepared for war.

Other plantations took place under Isabel (1558-1603). From 1579 to 1583 the Earl of Desmond led a rebellion against the English. When the rebellion was finally crushed, much of Munster’s land was confiscated and turned over to English settlers.

Then in 1592 Elizabeth founded the first college in Ireland, Trinity College, Dublin.

Finally in 1593 a rebellion broke out in Ulster. Hugh O’Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, joined the rebellion in 1595. At first the rebellion was successful. The rebels won a victory at the Yellow Ford in 1598. However, O’Neill was severely defeated at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. The rebellion ended in 1603.

XVII century

After the rebellion, O’Neil was, at first, treated leniently. He was allowed to return to his land. However, after 1605 English attitudes hardened. In 1607 Hugh O’Neil and Rory O’Donnell, the Earl of Tyrconnell, fled to France with their supporters. This event became known as the Flight of the Counts.

Later, his land in Ulster was confiscated by King James, who settled on an Ulster plantation. This time the plantation was going to be much more complete. This time, the Protestant settlers outnumbered the native Irish.

Between 1610 and 1613 many English and Scots settled in Ulster on confiscated land. Many new cities were founded. However, the native Irish resented the plantation and in 1641 Ulster rose in rebellion and massacres of Protestants occurred.

In the south, in 1642, the Anglo-Irish and native Irish formed an alliance called the Kilkenny Confederacy. They quickly took over all of Ireland except Dublin and a few other cities and parts of Ulster. Meanwhile, in England, civil war raged between the English king and parliament, leaving Ireland to fend for several years.

However, divisions between the Anglo-Irish and native Irish weakened the rebellion. Furthermore, the English civil war ended in 1646. King Charles I was executed in January 1649. Afterwards, the English parliament turned its attention to Ireland.

Oliver Cromwell was determined to crush the Irish resistance and impose Protestantism on Ireland. He too sought revenge for the massacres of 1641. When Cromwell captured Drogheda in 1649, the defenders were massacred. A similar massacre took place in Wexford. Cromwell left Ireland in 1650 and his son-in-law took over. By 1651 all of Ireland was in English hands.

In 1653-1654 another plantation took place. Land belonging to Irish Catholics was confiscated. Those who could prove that they had not participated in the 1641 rebellion were given other (less fertile) land west of the Shannon. The confiscated lands were given to the English.

In 1660 Charles II became King of England and Scotland. At first it seemed that he was going to undo the Cromwellian confiscation of Irish land. However, the king did not, fearing a backlash among his own people.

In addition, during the 1660s the export of cattle from Ireland to England was prohibited. However, exports of meat and butter soared. Ireland’s population also grew rapidly in the late 17th century. English merchants also resented competition from the Irish wool trade.

Labor costs were lower in Ireland than in England, and Irish wool was exported to many other countries. In 1699 the Irish were prohibited from exporting wool to any country except England. However, the English already charged high import duties on Irish wool and there was little demand for it. So Irish wool exports effectively ended.

In 1685 a Catholic, Jaime II, succeeded Carlos II. The Irish hoped that James would treat them more kindly, but he was deposed in 1688 and fled to France. The Dutchman William of Orange and his English wife Maria were invited to come and rule in Santiago’s place.

However, Santiago was not willing to give up his crown so easily. Ireland’s lord deputy, the Earl of Tyrconnell, remained loyal to him. Just like most of the Irish. In March 1689 James landed at Kinsale and quickly took most of Ireland.

Derry was one of the few places that stood by William. In December 1688 Catholic troops attempted to enter, but 13 apprentice boys closed the gates against them. In April 1689, James besieged Derry and his men boomed across the River Foyle to prevent supplies from reaching it by water. However, in July, a ship called the Mountjoy broke the boom and relieved the town.

William’s army landed in Ireland in August 1689 and on 1 July 1690 the two armies met at the Battle of the Boyne near Drogheda. James was decisively defeated. William entered Dublin on July 6, 1690. The following year his army besieged Limerick. That city surrendered in October 1691. The Treaty of Limerick ended the war in Ireland.

Century XVIII

From 1704 all members of the Irish parliament and all office holders were required to be members of the Church of Ireland. (This law excluded both Presbyterians and Catholics. As a result, many Presbyterians left Ireland for North America during the 18th century.)

Another law of 1704 stated that Catholics could not buy land. They could not leave their land to a single heir, and they could not inherit land from Protestants. These measures meant that by 1778 only 5% of the land in Ireland was owned by Catholics. Both Catholics and Dissidents (Protestants who did not belong to the Church of Ireland) had to pay tithes to the Church of Ireland, which caused resentment.

An Act of 1719 reaffirmed the right of the British parliaments to legislate for Ireland. The Irish parliament was definitively subservient.

There was a great deal of extreme poverty in Ireland during the 18th century, at its worst during the famine of 1741. This disaster killed hundreds of thousands of people. In the 1760s, Irish peasant grievances turned to violence.

In Munster, “white boys”, so called because they wore white smocks or shirts to disguise themselves, burned down buildings and mutilated cattle. In the 1770s they were followed north by the Oak Boys and the Steel Boys.

Beginning in 1778 the laws restricting the rights of Catholics were gradually repealed. From that year Catholics were allowed to lease land for 999 years. From 1782 they were allowed to buy land. In 1782 the Poynings Act was repealed after nearly 300 years.

The 1719 Act, which gave the British parliament the right to legislate for the Irish, was also repealed. In 1792 Catholics were allowed to practice law and marry Protestants. From 1793 Catholics were allowed to vote (but were not allowed to sit as deputies).

In the 18th century, a linen industry grew in Northern Ireland. In 1711 a Linen Board was formed in Dublin. However, the linen industry soon became concentrated in the north and in 1782 another Linen Board was opened in Belfast. Beginning in the late 18th century, Britain began to industrialize.

In Ireland, industrialization was confined to the north. The south of Ireland remained agricultural, exporting large amounts of meat and butter to Britain. During the 18th century, Ireland’s population grew rapidly from less than 2 million in 1700 to nearly 5 million in 1800. Trade with Britain boomed and the Bank of Ireland opened its doors in 1783.

However, in the late 18th century the ideas of the American Revolution and the French Revolution reached Ireland. They influenced a Protestant lawyer, Theobald Wolf Tone, who in 1791 founded the Society of United Irishmen. Society wanted Ireland to become an independent republic with religious tolerance for all.

In 1794 Great Britain went to war with France. The United Irishmen were considered a dangerous organization and were suppressed. Wolf Tone fled abroad and tried to persuade the French to invade Ireland. In 1796 they sent a fleet, but a storm prevented it from landing.

Then in May 1798 risings broke out in Wexford, Wicklow and Mayo. However, the rebellion was defeated at Vinegar Hill, near Enniscorthy, on June 21. French soldiers landed at Killala in August, but were forced to surrender in September.

The French sent another fleet but their ships were intercepted by the British navy and most of them were captured. On board one was Wolf Tone. In November he committed suicide in jail.

XIX century

The British government then decided that radical reform was necessary. They decided that the answer was to abolish the Irish parliament and unite Ireland with Great Britain. In 1800 they managed to persuade the Irish parliament to accept the measure. It came into force in 1801.

In 1803 Robert Emmet (1778-1803) and a small group of followers attempted an uprising in Dublin. They killed the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and his nephew, but the uprising was quickly crushed. Emmet was hanged, drawn and quartered.

In the early 19th century, Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) led a movement to remove the remaining restrictions on Catholics. In 1823 he founded the Catholic Association. In 1829 his wishes were fulfilled. The Catholic Emancipation Law allowed Catholics to become deputies and hold public office.

In 1840 O’Connell founded a Repeal Association to demand the repeal of the Act of Union. He organized ‘freak meetings’ of supporters of him. In 1843 he ordered one at Clontarf. However, the British government banned the meeting. O’Connell called off the meeting and his movement collapsed.

The Irish Potato Famine

In 1845 a large part of the Irish population lived on potatoes and buttermilk. It was a proper diet, but if anything happened to the potato crop, it would be a disaster. In 1845, potato blight hit Ireland. Peel, the British Prime Minister, appointed a scientific committee to study the disease. Unfortunately they did not understand its true nature.

Facing famine, Peel started relief works to help the starving. (Peel was reluctant to give away free food.) Potato blight returned in 1846. By 1847 the situation was so bad that Peel’s successor, Lord John Russell, realized that direct relief was necessary and soup kitchens were set up. Private charity also struggled to cope with the calamity.

Yet hundreds of thousands of people die each year from hunger and diseases such as cholera, typhus and dysentery. (In their weakened condition the people had little resistance to disease.) The famine was worst in the south and south-west of Ireland.

The North Coast and the East Coast were less affected. Many people fled on board. In 1851 alone, some 250,000 people emigrated from Ireland. (Many of them died of diseases on board the ship.) The population of Ireland was drastically reduced.

From over 8 million in 1841 it fell to about 6.5 million in 1851 and continued to fall. An estimated one million people died during the famine. Many others emigrated. The British government’s failure to deal with the famine caused lasting bitterness in Ireland.

Movement towards autonomy

In 1842 an organization called Young Ireland was formed to campaign for Irish independence. (They were called ‘Young Ireland’ because they opposed O’Connell’s ‘Old Ireland’, which advocated peaceful methods. In 1848, Young Ireland attempted an uprising.

Led by William Smith O’Brien 1803-64, a group of Irish peasants fought with 46 members of the Irish Constabulary at Ballingarry in County Tipperary. The skirmish later became known as “The Widow McCormack’s Battle of Cabbage.” O’Brien was later arrested. He was sentenced to death, but instead he was transferred to Tasmania.

In 1858 another movement called the Fenians was formed. In 1867 they attempted an uprising in England, which was unsuccessful. In 1870 they were banned by the Catholic Church but continued to operate.

Also in 1870 a lawyer named Isaac Butt (1813-1879) founded the Irish Home Government Association. The goal was to win MPs in the British parliament and fight for independence.

The Association was successful, as it soon gained a large number of MPs, but Butt was considered too moderate. She soon lost control of the movement to a Protestant lawyer named Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891).

The Land War

In the late 1870s Irish agriculture went into recession and many farmers were evicted. Then, in 1879, a Phoenician named Michael Davitt (1846-1906) founded the Irish National Land League to demand land reform. He asked Parnell to lead the movement.

The land war of 1879-1882 followed. Rents were withheld until the last moment. Anyone who took land from an evicted tenant was boycotted. This word came from a boycott of Captain Charles. He ran a farm in Mayo.

The local people refused to work for him, but in 1880 50 Ulster labourers, protected by troops, were sent to harvest his farm. However, life was made so unpleasant by the boycott that he was forced to leave.

During the ground war some people became violent. As a result, in 1881 the British government passed the Coercion Act, which allowed them to imprison people without trial. The leaders of the earth league were arrested.

At the same time, Gladstone passed another land bill. Tenants can apply for a fair rent to a special land court. The Gladstone Land Acts of 1881 and 1882 also gave tenants greater security of tenure.

The land war ended with an agreement called the Treaty of Kilmainham. The government released the leaders and accepted a few more concessions and the violence subsided (although the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish, and the Under-Secretary were assassinated in Phoenix Park, Dublin).

The Laws of Home Rule

In 1886 Gladstone introduced his first Home Rule Bill, but it was defeated by the House of Commons. Gladstone introduced a second Home Rule Bill in 1893. This passed the House of Commons, but was defeated by the House of Lords.

Gladstone introduced a second Home Rule Bill in 1893. The House of Commons passed this, but the House of Lords rejected it. However, some reforms were made in land ownership. In 1885 money was made available to tenants to borrow to purchase their land.

The loans were repaid at low interest rates. The loan system was expanded in 1891. In 1903 and 1909 more land laws were passed. As a result, many thousands of tenant farmers bought their land. In 1893 the Gaelic League was founded to make Gaelic the main language of Ireland once again.

Meanwhile, Protestant opposition to Home Rule was growing. The Ulster Unionist Party was formed in 1886. Other trade union organizations were also formed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, Sinn Fein (Gaelic for “ourselves”) was formed in 1905.

In the 20th century, Ireland headed for civil war. The Ulster Volunteer Force was formed in 1913. In the south, nationalists formed the Irish Volunteers. Both sides got weapons.

Finally, on September 15, 1914, a bill for autonomy received royal approval. However, it was suspended during the First World War. The war divided opinion in Ireland. Some people were willing to wait for the end of the war, believing that Ireland would then be independent. Some were not.

The Irish Volunteers split up. About 12,000 men broke away but kept the name Irish Volunteers. The rest (over 100,000 men) called themselves the Irish National Volunteers).

The Easter Rising

In the early years of the 20th century, the Irish Republican Brotherhood remained a powerful secret organization. Many of them joined the Irish Volunteers. In May 1915 the IRB formed a military council. In January 1916 they planned an uprising and set Easter Day (April 24) as the date.

MacNeill, the leader of the Irish Volunteers, was not informed of the planned uprising until April 21. He at first he agreed to cooperate. He orders the Volunteers to mobilize on April 24.

However, a German ship called the Aud, which was carrying rifles to Ireland, was intercepted by the British Navy and scuttled by its captain. MacNeill changed his mind and canceled the Voluntary Movements. As a result, the uprising was almost entirely confined to Dublin and thus had no chance of success.

The insurgents occupied the Post Office in O’Connell Street where their leader Patrick Pearse announced an Irish Republic. However, the British crushed the rebellion and the insurgents surrendered on April 29 and 15 of them were executed. Irish public opinion was shocked and alienated by the executions.

Irish independence

In December 1918 a general election was held and Sinn Fein won 73 seats. However, Sinn Fein MPs refused to sit in the British Parliament. Instead they formed their own parliament called the Dail Eireann, which met in Dublin.

In January 1919 the Irish Volunteers renamed themselves the IRA, the IRA started a guerrilla war when two RIC men were shot. Guerilla warfare continued through 1920 and 1921. The British recruited a force of ex-soldiers called the Black and

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button