Ireland is a country that has been seized by the Vikings and the Englishmen. Ireland is an large island south west of Great Britain and the farthest west in Europe you can go. Some millions of years ago Ireland was connected to England but has slowly separated, and in the meantime creating the Irish sea. Ireland is a country with myths and old traditions.
Landscape, Weather and Wildlife
Ireland has an area of 70 285 km2. Ireland is like a cup, low mountains rise around a lowland with swamps and lakes. Ireland is also covered by flat or hill like grass fields, and small forests. The highest peak is Carrantohill; 1041 meters over the ocean.
Ireland lay right in the path of the Golf-Stream, witch affects the weather in Ireland by heating the air and making high and low pressures. Ireland is a country with high moist and changing weather. In the winter it can be –20 C but in the summer it can be 32C. In the capital, Dublin, on the east coast it’s 5 C in January-February and 15 C in July-August. Each year there are normally 180 rain days in the south east and 260 in the north west. It rains ca 1200mm each year in Ireland.
Wildlife in Ireland is quite like wildlife in England, but they do not have the same amount of species. Some of the ordinary English mammals and birds like mol, dear, cat owls and wood peckers don’t exists on Ireland. The wolf was driven out of Ireland in the18th century. Nearly 400 types of birds have been observed, mostly seabirds like gulls, gees, ducks and waders that spend the winter in Ireland. Cape Clear is a world renown observation post in Ireland Here you can see a great variety of seabirds.
The oldest sign of humans in Ireland are dated to 6000 BC. The humans in this time relied mainly on the ocean for food, and in some camps inland there have been found piles of scales from seafood. Later they went from catching fish and hunting to growing fields (agriculture). In the north east of Ireland it’s clearly found traces of people gradually going over to growing fields. The old hunter population had even started to have domesticated animals and learned how to make pottery before they started growing grain.
We can date the oldest settlements where people grew grain to ca 3700 BC. From the end of 3000 BC they started with cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. In the bronze age (ca 2000 – 600/500 BC) there evolved a tradition in the making things of bronze; Daggers were one of the things that were exported to the continent. They also made beautiful things in gold. There have been found a number of burial sites were the dead were buried in stone coffins under flat terrain and small round hills.
The iron age lasted from ca 600/500 BC to the introduction of Christianity in 400 AC. The Romans invaded England but not Ireland, and so the Romans seems to have had a limited influence on Ireland.
In 600 and 700 AC the Irish churches had a great joy of art and history. The churches had foreign guests and started to write down the history of Ireland and stories of heroes.
The arrival of the Vikings
Before, and right after 800 AC Norwegian and Danish Vikings came to Ireland, and the Norwegians founded Dublin. Some years later the Danish took Dublin, but the city was re founded by the Norwegians in 853 AC. Now there were fights against the Irish kings until the Englishmen invaded under Henrik II. The Irish stood against the English several times, but all in vain. In the Rose Wars from 1455 to 1485 the Irish only managed to weaken the Englishmen.
Some more history
In 1542 the Anglican church was brought to Ireland. Under the rule of Elisabeth I, the Catholic church goods were given to the Anglican church. Also outside of the church, people’s goods were given to new settlers. In 1600 AC the Irish people started to rise against the English with the support of the pope and Spain, but lost. Now all Irish laws were abandoned, and English laws ruled in Ireland. After this 500 000 acres were confiscated for advantage for Scottish and English colonies. Under Jacob I and Karl I this was raised to 3 000 000 of 3 500 000 acres. The Irish were in uproar and murdered some Englishmen, but one Englishman; Cromwell, gathered an army (1649-1652) and pulverized all resistance. The Irish were then forced to live cramped in the poorer parts of the county.
In 1698 the English forbade Ireland from exporting wool, the farm owners spent their money outside of Ireland and Irelands economy suffered. The Irish revolts became less violent.
The north American Liberty War made some improvements for the Irish. In 1780 the trading laws were removed, and Ireland was now allowed to trade wool again. In 1782 some restriction to the Irish parliaments independence were taken away. The French Revolution tried too help, the United Irishman was founded in 1791 by Wolfe Tone. The United Irishman demanded total equality to the Catholics and to break free from Britain with French help. But the French failed, and in 1800 AC Ireland formed union with Britain. The Irish Parliament was dispatched and the Catholics were denied political rights.
In the 1820’s Daniel O’Connell started a movement for the Catholics freedom. To avoid a civil war, the parliament was opened in 1829, and all positions were open to Catholics.
The massive emigration
In 1801 population was 5 400 000, but exceeded 8 300 000 in 1845. In the same period there was no increase in the economical growth. The poor people lived almost only on potatoes, and when potato crops failed in 1845 – 1846, 1 million people died and many left for the USA, Scotland and England. The population decreased to 5 100 000 in 1881 and 4 400 000 in 1911. At it’s lowest the population was 3 000 000.
In 1869 the Anglican state church was abolished, and in 1872 the Irish people demanded total control (Home Rule). The Home Rule movement was led by Charles. S. Parnell. Parnell was jailed, but was released later and there became nothing of Home Rule. After trying several times the government of Britain finally agreed to bring in Home Rule to Ireland in 1910. When Britain agreed to bring in Home Rule, there was fierce opposition by the Unionist party in Ulster and Britain. In 1914 – 1918 the question of Home Rule had to be put aside for a moment because of World War I.
In 1916 a group called the Fenian Irish Republican Brotherhood, caused an uprising in Dublin. The post office and some other buildings were sized and were bombarded until much of the city centre was destroyed. The people of Ireland sympathized with the leaders, many were put in British prisons. A group called Sinn Fein ( Ourselves Alone ) got support quickly, and at the end of the war Sinn Fein won almost all the seats in the Irish elections, except those in east Ulster. In January 1919 the members of Sinn Fein met in Dublin and proclaimed Dail Eireann, the parliament of an independent Irish Republic. The Irish then refused to obey the British courts and laws. The Irish Republican Army ambushed the police and British troops. The British armed forces finally burnt large parts of several towns. This period was called the Anglo-Irish War and was brought to an end, with a treaty that was signed in 1921.
When World War II broke out in 1939, Ireland remained neutral. However some Irish people fought with British armed forces, and Irish farmers helped Britain by selling them food.
These days Irish people are in most matters treated as British citizens when they are in Britain. Irish people who live in Britain can vote in British elections. After the great emigration in 1840s the population in the western counties have steadily decreased. Only the province of Leinster has shown a slight increase in population. There are clear differences between the accent and speech in the four provinces in Ireland.