English Normans in the 1170s began the
conquest of Catholic Ireland. The island then consisted
of a series of small Celtic kingdoms that often fought
among themselves. It was not until the end of the 16th
century that the English had succeeded in taking over
the entire island. In the Northeast, the population
offered the strongest resistance, but eventually England
took over there as well. Large areas of land were
confiscated and distributed to Scottish, English and
Welsh Protestants. The Catholic Irish were discriminated
against and several rebellions broke out. Demands for
independence grew, but Protestants in the north opposed
any talk of self-government, which led to the island
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Ireland, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
The oldest traces of human settlements in Ireland are
just under 9,000 years old. Agriculture began to be
practiced on the island around the 3rd century BC. From
about the same time are the large stone chamber tombs,
of which Newgrange, which lies in the valley around the
River Boyne, is best known. From the Bronze Age
(2000–700 BC) there are rich finds of goldsmiths.
Among the Celtic tribes that began to immigrate to
Ireland around 500 BC, the Gaels set their mark on
language and culture. Two centuries later, they had
displaced the former inhabitants, believed to have been
Iberians, a people from the Pyrenees peninsula.
The Celts of Ireland were divided into several
kingdoms which were in constant feud with one another.
The kings built the mansions and surrounded themselves
with poets, musicians and warriors, but otherwise the
population was mostly nomads. An upper king, the High
King, formally ruled the island, but his power was most
Whether the Romans conquered Ireland or not has been
the subject of debate since an archaeologist in 1996
discovered the remains of a Roman fort from the 100
century AD outside Dublin. However, many saw the find as
an expression of the previously known limited Roman
Christian missionaries and Vikings
In the 400s, Christian missionaries came to Ireland,
including according to legend St. Patrick, the patron
saint of the island. Christianity gained momentum and
numerous monasteries and schools were established.
Towards the end of the 7th century, the ravages of
the Vikings began and the divided Celtic kings became an
easy replacement. For 200 years the Vikings occupied
large areas, mainly along the coasts. Here they founded
Ireland's first cities, including Dublin, Cork and
Limerick. Around 1000, the Celtic kings finally
succeeded in uniting and defeating the 1014 Vikings at
Ireland is colonized
About 150 years later, however, the internal battles
were dealt with by the Celts. English Normans were
interested in the unused supply of fertile land. At the
request of a Celtic king, a Norman count, known as
Strongbow, came to Ireland in the 1170s to establish his
own monarchy on the island. The English king, Henry II,
opposed this and instead incorporated Ireland into his
own kingdom. However, direct English domination limited
itself to areas on the east coast.
The English monarchs pursued a policy that widened
the cultural divide between Englishmen and Irishmen.
When the English in the 16th century transitioned from
Catholicism to Protestantism, the contradictions were
sharpened. From the mid-1500s, land seized by Catholics
began to be taken over by English Protestants. The Irish
revolted, but the rebellion was crushed quickly. By the
end of the century, the English had succeeded in taking
over the entire island.
Rebellion in the north
The exception was the northern part of the province
of Ulster, where the Irish people strongly opposed the
Protestant colonizers. From 1608 large areas of land in
the north were confiscated and distributed to Scottish
and English Protestants. But in 1641, 59 percent of the
Irish land was still Catholic.
After the English ruler Oliver Cromwell knocked down
an eleven year long, bloody uprising, the English crown
controlled the entire island by the mid-17th century.
However, the so-called criminal laws, which were
established in the first decades of the 18th century,
deprived Catholics of the right to buy land, rent it on
reasonable terms or even inherit it. In 1714, only seven
percent of the land was left in Catholic hands. Nor were
Catholics entitled to vote, start their own schools or
hold public office.
The penal laws were relieved in stages, but the
Dublin Parliament, which had been established in 1692,
remained closed to the Irish, which the nationalist
movement, the United Irishmen, could
not accept. Inspired by the French Revolution of 1789,
the movement revolted in 1798. However, after a failed
attempt to land French soldiers, the rebels gave up. In
1801 Ireland was formally incorporated into Britain and
its parliament dissolved.
In the 1840s, the island was estimated to have about
8.5 million inhabitants. From 1845 to 1848, potato
harvests failed and nearly one million Irish people died
of starvation and malnutrition. In the wake of the
famine disaster, an extensive emigration followed,
mainly to North America and other English-speaking
countries. By the end of the 19th century, the number of
inhabitants had dropped to just under four million.
Liberal British governments, from the second half of
the 19th century, tried to meet the demands of Irish
nationalists to some extent through proposals for
self-government, so-called home rule, within the United
Kingdom. The Protestant minority in Ireland opposed
these proposals, but in 1914 the British Parliament
decided to introduce self-government. However, the
reform was delayed and pushed for the future when the
First World War broke out.
In the middle of the war, on Easter Sunday, 1916,
Irish nationalists occupied several important buildings
in Dublin and proclaimed Ireland an independent
republic. Led by poet Padraig Pearse and Labor Party
leader James Connolly, they set up their headquarters in
the headquarters office. The small rebel forces managed
to stand against the British force for a week, but the
revolt was defeated and several of the leaders executed.
The seemingly unsuccessful and ill-prepared rebellion
received a strong symbolic charge for many Irishmen.
In 1919, the Irish members elected to the British
Parliament formed their own parliament in Ireland and
proclaimed the country an independent republic. The new
parliament elected Eamon de Valera as president. He was
one of the few leaders of the Easter uprising that had
not been executed. The Irish Parliament was banned and
members must meet in secret. In parallel, the Irish
Republican Army (IRA) launched a guerrilla war against
Ireland is divided
Protestants in the North East opposed any talk of
Irish self-government and threatened to use force if
forced into a new state formation. They also considered
breaking away from the UK and forming an independent
At the end of 1921, the Irish reluctantly agreed to a
British peace proposal which meant that the island was
divided. Six of Ireland's 32 counties (Northern
Ireland), where a majority of the population were
Protestants, remained British while the remaining formed
the Irish Free State. Self-government had a number of
limitations and for many the agreement was
disappointing. One sensitive issue was that the
Government and Parliament must swear an oath of
allegiance to the British Crown. The Irish Parliament
split and President de Valera resigned in protest. Civil
war broke out. In May 1923, the opponents of the
agreement had been defeated. The Free State government
executed more and punished a larger number than the
British did with the rebels in 1916. The civil war
created deep cracks in society that took many years to
Wage cuts in new crisis budget
A tight budget is presented: public servants who earn more than € 30,000 a
year should have their salaries reduced by 5-15 percent. The same goes for all
ministers, however, the prime minister cuts his salary by 20 percent. EUR 760
million will be saved on social welfare systems (among other things through
lower child allowances).
Systematic abuse was hidden by the church
The so-called Murphy Commission, which investigates several scandals
surrounding the Catholic Church, presents a report of systematic abuse of
children by priests within the Dublin Diocese from 1975 to April 2004. Four
archbishops are accused of trying to conceal what has been going on, in several
cases with the help of senior police officers. Prime Minister Cowen calls on the
designated bishops to resign, while the political opposition demands that
everyone involved in the darkening should leave their services (see also
Strike in protest against cuts
A quarter of a million public servants strike in protest against layoffs and
impaired service (see also Labor Market). The government fails to agree with the
union on austerity policy.
Government crisis is averted
The cracks in the government are growing and the Green Party is considering
leaving the coalition. Following the promises of 500 new teachers and stricter
control over gifts to political parties, the Green Party remains in government.
Voters approve the Lisbon Treaty
A new referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Prior to the vote, Prime Minister
Cowen has been given binding guarantees that the EU should not affect Ireland's
sovereignty in the issue of abortion, neutrality and tax law. 67 percent of
Irish people now vote yes to the Lisbon Treaty. The turnout is estimated at 58
percent. Most analysts believe that the yes side wins because voters are afraid
of what will happen to the Irish economy if they vote no.
Setback for Fianna Fáil in local and EU elections.
The municipal elections and the elections to the European Parliament will be
a setback for the ruling Fianna Fáil. The Green Party also makes a poor choice,
while doing well for Fine Gael and the Labor Party. The Socialist Party wins for
the first time a mandate in the European Parliament. Sinn Féin loses its only EU
mandate in Ireland (the party gets a mandate in Northern Ireland). Nearly 58 per
cent of Irish people vote in the election.
Domestic shortcomings behind Ireland's banking crisis
According to a report commissioned by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan,
domestic factors have played a greater role than the international financial
crisis in creating the Irish banking crisis. The banks have lent too much money
and for risky projects, which was possible due to deficiencies in the financial
market regulation system.
New tough savings package
The government presents a savings package that includes, among other things,
an increase in income tax. High-income earners (who earn more than € 75,000 a
year) must pay 4 to 6 percent more in tax. For the rest, 2 percent applies,
while Irish people with minimum incomes pay 7 euros a week. Unemployed persons
under the age of 20 must have their allowance halved and the special payment
that people on social benefits usually receive for Christmas will be abolished.
Assistance is also reduced. It is also decided that a new authority, the
National Asset Management Agency (Nama), will be created to enable the state to
take over bad property loans from the Irish banks.
Protests against cuts
100,000 Irish people are demonstrating in Dublin against the cuts in the
public sector. A new pension charge is approved shortly thereafter by both
parliament's chambers. All opposition parties vote no to the fee.
Bank is nationalized after disclosures about fraud
The government is nationalizing parts of the scandal-stricken Anglo Irish
Bank, after it was revealed, among other things, that the bank's chairman
concealed to the auditors that he himself had borrowed over € 80 million. It is
also clear that ten of Anglo Irish Bank's largest borrowers account for over
half of the loans.