A Brief History of Ireland
Ireland’s long and fascinating history seems to belie the relatively small size of the country, having experienced activity more suited to a country twice its size. The past is a factor that informs the culture and traditions of Ireland today, which holds such allure that it keeps travelers returning year on year.
A large proportion of Ireland’s history has been formed by its link to England, which began as early as the twelfth century after a Viking invasion led to the involvement of mercenaries. This commenced a period of English interference that lasted for over seven hundred years, with full control being sought over Ireland under the reign of Henry VIII. The question of whether vassal were loyal to the country led to military action, which led to the overthrow of the Irish Parliament. The countries were officially united under the Act of Union, which resulted in indigenous people being relocates to accommodate immigrants. The Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War followed soon after.
The people of Ireland are central to the history of Ireland whether due to their actions or what they suffered. The country’s link to England led to the implementation of the Crown’s policy of plantation, which caused the movement of English and Scottish settlers into Ireland and changed to background of the country’s occupants. The potato famine occurred in the mid-nineteenth century and changed the country beyond recognition due to the manner in which the population were affected. Over a million people died during this period of the mid-nineteenth century and, to avoid starvation, the same number emigrated as far afield as the US, Canada and Australia as well as England.
Religion has played a major role in the history of Ireland in a variety of different ways, and continues to do so to this day. In the seventeenth century, while Roman Catholicism was the majority religion, the Anglican church held all the authority. Sectarianism has also dominated the history of Ireland, with wars having been fought between the Protestant and Catholic factions that have spilled out into other areas. The sixties saw the conflict between the opponents at its height, becoming somewhat of a ceasefire as it stands today.
Image: noel moore – Fotolia