Free «History of Ireland» Essay

History of Ireland

Ireland is an island locked west of Britain and north Atlantic Ocean. This island is larger than West Virginia. It has a temperate maritime climate, which is modified by the Northern Atlantic Current. The climate is consistently humid with cool summers and mild winters. The terrain is mostly level with low mountains and rugged hills and sea cliffs, especially on the western coastal areas. The land is rich in natural resources including dolomite, limestone, gypsum, barite, silver, zinc, lead, copper, peat and natural gas. More than forty percent of the population resides within one hundred kilometers of Dublin, which is the capital city of the nation. The nationality of Iralend is Irish with over eighty seven percent of the residents being Irish. Ireland gained independence on 6th December 1921 from Great Britain by treaty. She adopted a constitution in 1937 by plebiscite. The president is the chief of the state, and the prime minister is the head of government. The president appoints the cabinet with the help of the prime minister, and the parliament approves the appointed cabinet. The president is elected for a seven year term and is eligible for a second term in service (Paseta, 2003).

The earliest inhabitants of Ireland were the mid-stone age people, who arrived there around 6000 BC. Four thousand years after this inhabitation, Europeans arrived in this lane and established the Neolithic culture. They left stone monuments and gold ornaments behind them. Within the next one thousand years, Bronze age group inhibited the land and produced elaborate bronze and gold weapons and ornaments. The fourth century witnessed the Iron Age. These were Celts, energetic and tall people who had already spread across Britain and Europe in the previous centuries. The Celts are also known as Gaels, and they are divided into five major territories with a rich culture despite their constant strife.

The eight hundred years of English rule began in 1169. This is the time when English tycoons came to Wexford and captured Waterford and Wexford, which were Hiberno-Vikings harbors. This invasion was originally a planned alliance between Demort MacMurrough and the tycoons. Queen Elizabeth I strengthened English rule in Ireland. She established jurisdiction in Munster and Connaught irrespective of the continuous rebellion by the local community, especially the ruling families. O’Neil was against English rule in Ireland, and he led the Irish people in the nine years of continuous war with the English barons. He was courageous and increased nationalism in the land. In 1601, the Battle of Kinsale marked the end of O’Neil. He was lucky to survive the battle, though his powers had been broken. He surrendered and submitted to the English tycoons to save his life. In 1607, Ireland experienced the Flight of the Earls when O’Neil and other Ulster chiefs left Ireland and sailed to Europe. They never came back to Ireland again. The departure left Ireland open for English powers to rule it to their satisfaction (Waddell, 1998).

The flight of O’Neil and other native chiefs gave Queen Elizabeth I and James I her successor an open chance to pursue their impunity plantation policy. During these confiscations, Ulster and its wealthy farmlands was the most affected as it was viewed as the homeland of the previous rebels. Ulster’s tragic fate begun here as the English powers did everything as a punishment to the former rebels. In fact, this led to the collapse of Gaelic political and social superstructure as well as the full conquest of the Irish land by the English powers. The 1641 rebellion was followed by Oliver Cromwell’s incursion. Irish Catholic people attempted a coup d’état as they feared that the anti-Royalist Protestants would invade them anytime. This invasion made the English government reestablish their rule and usher the harshest period of collective legislation in Ireland history. The penal laws were intended to dispossess the catholic community. In 1641, 60% of the land was owned by Catholic population. This was reduced to 5% by 17716 (O'Kelly & O'Kelly, 1989).

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Introduction of Christianity in Ireland brought civilizing influences and major changes in the land. One of the prominent missionaries, who converted many Irish people to Christianity is St. Patrick, who has arrived in the island about 432AD. The pagan tradition collapsed in Irish island even before Christianity was well spread. Many Irish scholars preferred studying Christian theology and Latin, which were the flourishing studies of those times. Missionaries moved from England to Ireland and back in their mission to spread Christianity. Isolation and excellence of Irish monasteries helped preserve Greek and Latin learning during the period of Dark Ages. This was the period when arts of metalworking, sculpture and manuscript illumination produced treasures such as ornate jewelry as well as other carved stones, which are valued up to date (Wallace & O'Floinn, 2000).

After the two hundred years of invasion and settlement by Viking tribes, the Norman conquered the land in the 12th century. This conquest caused assimilation and integration of Normans into Irish community. In the early seventeenth century, English and Scottish Protestants arrived in this land. They were sent as colonists with the name of spreading the gospel northern Ireland and Dublin.

Ireland parliament passed a treaty with Great Britain in 1800 to remain an official part of UK till 1921. There was religious freedom, which was proscribed in the 18thy century. However, this law was reinstated in 1829. This victory of restoring religious freedom for the Catholics was surpassed by economic depression, which overwhelmed Ireland between 1846 and 1848. There was a severe famine and drought, which dried crops and animals died. Millions of citizens died, and others migrated to America. In 1958, the Fenians Group, also known as Irish Republican Brotherhood was formed. This was a secret group, which was formed with an aim of producing armed rebels against British rule. In 1874, the Home Rule Movement was formed. It advocated for constitutional reforms. This party campaigned for independence of Ireland. This party was galvanized by Charles Stewart Parnell. It managed to force the British government to pass home rule acts after 1885. This is what influenced nationalism in Ireland. In fact, the Sinn Fein, which meant ‘Ourselves Alone’ was as a result of this party (James, 2001).

Nationalism was a popular spirit in Ireland politics. This force remains popular in the land up to date. An important home bill was passed as a law in 1914. This gave new hopes to the Irish. However, the bill was not implemented immediately since Europe was in the war. The bill had to wait for the end of this war. James Connolly and Padraic Pearse made Irish people believe that England problems are the best opportunities for Ireland to succeed. They tapped the nation to the Gaelic revivalism and the unsuccessful rebellion, which was tried on Easter Monday in1916. The leaders declared Ireland an independent nation but they lacked enough support, which caused the failure of the rebellion. The rebellion was violent and destroyed several parts of Dublin town. The British government decided to arrest rebellion leaders threatened to conscript Ireand to wrestle in the Great War. These decisions alerted the public on the danger placed ahead by the British government. The public supported Sinn Fein massively in 1918 when the general elections were held. The Sinn Fein leaders selected joined hands to fight for independence under Eamon de as their leader. This increased tension in Ireland. The British government attempted to curb Sinn Fein. This is what led to the Anglo-Irish War, which was fought between 1919 and 1921.

Anglo-Irish War came to an end in 1921 after the independence treaty. The British government agreed to establish the Irelandfree state with twenty six counties. Irish was to be in the Common Wealth and had to be recognized in the partition of the island. There were six protestant counties in northern Ireland, which remained as a part of Great Britain. This partition did not satisfy all Irish people. Some were not at peace with the partition while others hated the continued subordinate ties with the British monarchs. This is why the treaty was repudiated immediately. The unsatisfied group led civil war and violent riots between 1922 and 1923. The pro-treaty group won the fight. The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 ended the independence war and established an Irish state. However, the new Ireland was truncated. The terms of this treaty permitted six counties continue as part of Britain. This was the first incidence in world history that a free state allowed some of its parts to remain part of the colonizer.

Partition of Ireland started in the sixteenth century when the English crown created the first Plantation. The impounded land of the Hiberno-Norman and Gaelic were awarded to Scottish and English settlers of Protestant stock. This policy was effectively implemented in Ulster. All Protestant visitors were given extra land as per the Penal Laws. This law increased landless Catholics and denied them human rights. In 1707, the law applied to the Presbyterians as they were more preferred to the Catholics.  In 1921, the idea of independence moved Ireland from a state of aspiration to a state of actuality. When the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, it resolved the notion of Protestant majority in Ulster. This is when the country was partitioned, and a boundary commission established to define the correct boundaries between southern and northern Ireland. The boundaries remain ass they were established in 1921 (James, 2001).

June 22, 1921 witnessed the Northern started to exist. James Craig was the first prime minister of the state. He entered in parliament through the Ulster Unionist Part and was to govern the new state for fifty years. The catholic population was the minority and was stripped of real representation and power by this government, which favored Unionists. This favoring was conspicuous in biased housing, gerrymandering and economic subsidiary. The government redrew Derry’s electoral restrictions to allow for the Protestant council irrespective of the high percentage of Catholics in the city. The Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary did not make any efforts to hide their biasness as they wanted to keep everybody in line. To all purpose and intents, the Northern Ireland was more of an apartheid state.

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Eamon de Valera became the first Prime Minister of Free Ireland in 1932. He led the state to the adoption of a constitution in 1937. Now, the state was independent and was able to force British military to withdraw. Ports, which the British Government owned were given back to the Irish government. During the Second World War II, Ireland remained neutral. It was officially declared a republic in 1948. However, Ireland does not use ‘Republic of Ireland’ but only uses Ireland in all her endeavors (Wallace & O'Floinn, 2000).

The Unionist supremacy faced the first challenge in 1950s regarding the boarder campaign. The government was able to quash this challenge and detain the leaders of the campaign. In 1967, the campaign was awakened with new force in the name of Civil Rights Movement. The movement had influence from America and was strong, therefore. The humanitarians wanted the Derry electoral boundaries to be redressed with immediate effect. The government faced another hit in 1969 when People’s Democracy was formed as a civil rights movement. The movement planned a peaceful walk from Belfast to Derry. The marchers were attacked by Protestants as they neared Derry. The police intervened but did not solve the conflict as they favored the protestants. British barons intervened after a few months and were able to maintain law and order. The Catholics welcomed the British troops at the beginning as they thought they were impartial. However, the troops started favoring the Protestants and made Catholics rebel. The rebellion made British troops to be too harsh to the extent of killing thirteen civilians on 30th January, 1972. This called for more recruitment into the IRA, which was dormant for some years.

In 1972, the Northern Ireland government was eradicated. However, considerable progress had taken place towards the human and civil rights. The 1973 Sunningdale Agreement showed light to another power sharing step. This arrangement did not go far as it was killed by the Protestants workers who strike in 1974. The IRA continued to target Northern Ireland people. This movement started a campaign of destroying the Britain mainland. Most citizens condemned such an act as they were not ready to face the tragedy. Meanwhile, the Loyalist paramilitaries initiated an execution campaign against the Catholics. In 1981, republican prisoners started a hunger strike claiming recognition as political prisoners rather than criminals. The strike was that serious that ten of them died of hunger including an elected member of parliament. The situation was worsened by several parties, which were subdivided with differing agendas. The differences divided the IRA into provisional and official wing. The two subgroups were then subdivided into other organizations, each with a different agenda (Connolly, 2007).

The Ireland picture started to be altered in the 19990s. EU membership, economic progress and the deteriorating significance of the Catholic denomination in the south reduced the long term differences between the south and the north. Additionally, American interest in Ireland caused the world to view the sate differently. A sequence of negotiations between the nationalists, Unionists, Irish government and British government gave birth to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. This is a historic event, which took place on a Christian holiday. A new assembly was established. It was led by David Trimble as the First Minister and Seamus Mallon as the Deputy First Minister. Throughout this period, Northern Ireland politics were polarizing dramatically. They resulted into falling away of the UUP, while a new Democratic Unionist Party emerged. The nationalist experienced the rise of a political wing known as Sinn Fein (Hugh, 2007).

Violence in Ireland was hard and almost inevitable to the end. Bothe sides wanted to end violence as they had experienced the consequences of war. However, none was ready to stop the violence first as they feared to be viewed as cowards. They also feared the unknown irrespective of the promised intervention by international organizations. Consequently, Sinn Fein and DUP struggled to decommission oof URA armaments. They also demanded compulsory identity of the new police officers who replaced the RUC. Unionists and Paisley demanded complete decommissioning of Ira including Unionist witnesses and photographic witnesses. On the other hand, Sinn Fein declined to cooperate with police officers. This made inactive members of the party engage in unlawful activities underground. In fact, the December 2004 bank robbery, which took away over $26.5 million, was blamed on republicans. Bertie Ahern and Tony Blaire were not ready to witness their political heritage destroyed by northern inflexibility. They continually urged both sides to continue with negotiations to look for a solution. They made a deadline and threatened to punish both sides in case they will not meet that deadline. The Unionist and Sinn Fein met the deadline though they said they would do it their own way.

Irish politics are controlled by two major political parties, which emerged from 1922 to 1923 riots and civil wars. Those who opposed the 1921 treaty formed Fianna Fail party and lost in the war. This part did not die after the wars. Instead, it gained popularity and became the most popular party in the island within a few months. The Fine Gael party represented those who supported the 1921 treaty. It is the second popular political party in Ireland. There are other minor parties including Labor Party, Greens Party, and Progressive Democrats. The Independent Party emerged in 2002 general elections and was able to take fourteen representatives to the parliament.

In 2002, Fianna Fail Party won again general elections. Ahern was reelected as the Prime minister and Harney was reappointed the deputy prime minister. The state held citizenship referendum in 2004. The state grants citizenship to every person born in Ireland irrespective of the parent’s origin. 2011 general elections changed the political move in Ireland. President Michael Higgins and Prime Minister Enda Kenny won the seats. The next general elections are expected to be held in 2018 after the seven years of service.

There has been a deep-rooted scar in Ireland, which was caused by the 1845-1851 great famine. This affected socioeconomic status of the state as the citizens carry the myth that their ancestors were forced to migrate leaving the old and the sick that could not move. Statistics reveal that the young people moved away leaving children and the old behind. This made Irish people take emigration abroad as a rite of passage. They had to go abroad at a particular age to search for greener pastures. Old parents and young children were left behind. The energetic group went abroad and sent remittances to back home. This continued until late 1980s. Generally, the emigration proved how Ireland resources were drained some years back. Ireland’s economy lagged behind especially during the age of mass migration between 1876 and 1926 (Connolly, 2007).

Ireland populate started to grow in 1960s. Inadequate contraception and abortion means increased population. However, net migration was still higher than arrivals. More than three million Ireland citizens live abroad today. Half of them were born in Ireland and emigrated to look for greener pastures. In 1996, the country witnessed a turning point after becoming a net immigration country. This resulted to unpredictable labor demand and economic growth in the country. Irish people living abroad started going back to their mother land with their children. In fact, 2006 census revealed that ten percent of the citizens in Ireland were born abroad and immigrated back to their parents land (Rance, 2001).

Ireland is a modern trade-dependent small economy state. It was among the nations, which initiated Euro circulation in 2002. The country has had an increasing GDP growth rate, which was 6% between 1995 and 2007.  However, the economy has been affected by the global financial crises, which have dropped economic activities worldwide. This has caused the GDP to fall with 3%, 7% and 1% in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively. In 2008, Ireland faced a recession which she had faced more than ten years ago. Her construction markets and domestic properties collapsed consequently forcing her to recess. Property price rates rose rapidly in this state rather than any other nation internationally in 2007. As a way of reconstructing the collapsed economy, the export sector has become the main component in the economy with foreign multinational dominating. This has awakened the downturn in business investment and consumer spending, as well. Agriculture sector, which was once the most important sector in the economy, has been outdone by services and industry.

Year 2008 witnessed the CONWEN government bank deposits, establishing party-public capital funds and recapitalizing the banking system as a response to control the collapsing economy. The government continued to stabilize the economy in 2009 where it established a new agency in the banking sector. The National Asset Management Agency was established with an aim of acquiring development loans and commercial property from Ireland banks In 2009; the government introduced a sequence of draconian budgets as it was experiencing budget deficits and reduced revenues simultaneously. The same year experienced wage reduction and across-the-board reductions in spending to all public servants. The government had to continue with these measures in 2010 to maintain a stable economy. The budget deficit was 32.4% in 2010. This was the world’s largest budget deficit as a GDP percentage. The government signed a $112 as a loan from the IMF and EU to assist Dublin increase banking sector capitalization and avoid increasing the foreign debt. The current Kenny government is trying to meet deficit targets as per the IMF and EU program. The government has achieved economic growth, which has reduced the problematic budget deficit from 32.4% in 2010 to 10.1% in 2011. This is a reasonable percentage of the GDP and is expected to lower if all goes as planned in the next few five years (O'Kelly & O'Kelly, 1989). 

In conclusion, Ireland has gone through an interesting political, social and economic history. The country has been conquered severally. It suffered eight hundred years of colonialism. Gaining independence in 1921 did not give Ireland total freedom like other nations. Economics and social mores in Ireland impose on the sovereignty of the state. They have fought various battles and conducted coup d’états. Rebellion has been there since time in memorial. Many nationalists have died in war as they try to redeem their nation. Religious fundamentalism has ruled the land making, brothers kill each other. Many leaders have tasted the loyal seat and failed the people. Ireland’s poverty resulted from millions of people moving away to look for opportunities abroad. However, this attitude is had been changing within the past two decades. However, rural emigration to big cities like Dublin remains the way of life in Ireland. Ireland is currently having a prosperous and buoyant economy with profuse employment and liberalized society. This economy is seasoned by multicultural inspirations, which have set the state on the path. The suffocating economy, poverty, conservative church and hopelessness have been thrown to the land of no return. The country has finally grown economically, politically and socially.

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