Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean located on the furthest edge of Western Europe. The country consists of thirty-two counties, divided in two, with six northern counties currently occupied by the United Kingdom; the other twenty-six counties make up The Irish Republic. Click here to see a larger version of the Map of Ireland.
Stone Age Ireland and later the Irish Celts
The earliest Stone Age settlers in Ireland were not Celts but a people today known as Iberians. The Iberian people were for the most part conquered and/or assimilated into the Celtic tradition and bloodline. Although the Celts were fierce and fearless warriors, they were also inquisitive and open to other people’s beliefs and artistic influences. These other traditions were often assimilated into the vibrant and ever expanding Celtic culture.
The first Celtic tribes are known to have arrived and settled in Ireland around 600 B.C. (but some experts believe they may have arrived earlier). They are thought to have entered Ireland from Spain and Britain.
Ireland and Britain quickly became Celtic occupied countries with several different Celtic tribes arriving and settling over an extended period.
Besides tribal warfare, Irish history is relatively untroubled until the arrival of the Norse invaders in the 8th Century. The Norsemen settlers founded and established strongholds in Ireland and occupied with strength towns such as Dublin and Limerick as well as may others. Around 1014 the Norsemen were finally driven out of Ireland by the High King Brian Boru ’s armies.
English Occupation Of Ireland
In the 12th century English invaders began to lay siege to Ireland. This was to be the start of seven centuries of bitter Anglo-Irish conflict.
The occupation and repression of the people gave birth to a sense of Irish nationalism. (Theobald Wolfe tone is noted in the Irish historical annals as being the farther of Irish Nationalism). Ireland’s bloody resistance and struggle against British occupation was bitter and difficult.
1916 Easter Rising
There were many Irish rebellions over the centuries, but the one that most dramatically changed the course of Irelands history as an occupied country was the 1916 Easter Rising. The Irish rebels took over several parts of Dublin, making their Head Quarters at the GPO in the heart of the city. It was from the steps at the entrance to the GPO that they declared Irelands independence from Britain. The British reaction was predictable and swift. Using cannon mounted on ships, they bombed Dublin and eventually reclaimed control of the devastated city.
The uprising was over and the British quickly executed many of the captured rebel leaders. It was this act of injustice that heralded the beginning of the end of the British occupation of Ireland. The leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising knew they would be executed once captured. It was their hope that their blood sacrifice would strengthen and nourish the rebel hearts of a weary and downtrodden people. Their supreme ‘hero act’ of self-sacrifice did not go unnoticed. The uprising continued in the form of widespread guerrilla warfare and in 1921 independence from the UK was secured for 26 southern Irish counties.
Ireland Joins the European Community
In 1948 Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth, and in 1973 the Republic of Ireland joined the European Community, finally taking it’s place among the nations of the world.
Peace in Ireland and Friendly Relations with Britain
The Irish governments cooperating with our British neighbours continue to work towards the peaceful unification of Ireland. In 1998 the peace settlement for Northern Ireland (the Good Friday Agreement) was approved. Ireland and Britain now enjoy good and friendly relations. Peoples lives and expectations have changed since the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. One of those expectations is for the people of Ireland and Britain to live side-by-side in peace.