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Irish history


Circa 15.000 years ago Europe was covered by 300 m of ice. When it started to defrost with the warmer weather with the abrasion of the stones there were built river-beds, lakes filled with glacial water and forming... islands. This way the British island and the Irish one were born.

The first men lived on the island already 8.000 BC. Testimonials are found in the today counties of Londonderry, Offaly, Sligo e Antrim. In the Mesolithic the people lived along the coast because in the mid-island they didn't find protection and food.

In the Neolithic there was the first agriculture maybe after influences from abroad. Therefore also domestic animals like sheep, goats and deer arrived on the island. The most impressive and spectacular testimonial are the passage tombs like for example at Newgrange and Loughcrew, built 3.000 years BC.

In the Bronze period the first metal was labored, between them gold. In no other place were made so much jewelry of gold like on the Irish island and then shipped to the whole mainland which lets think about a real good commerce.

The first Celtic people arrived in the Iron period coming from the Hibernian peninsula, the nowadays Spain and brought language - the Celtic - and culture. The Roman Empire never has been in Ireland but it's thinkable that there was a good commercial relationship with the Romans in Britain and Breton and therefore weapons and  some cultural ways 'settled' on the island. Their real relationship is still buried in the dark. Around 200 AC the period of the High Kings started who have been surrounded by highly educated knights, maybe taught by druids.

The first documentation about a historical person is from 431 AC. Niall Noigiallach was a high king at Tara, in the heart of nowadays County Meath. The and of Ulster went under his dominion and became part of the reign of the high king. The following year was the official year of Saint Patrick's arrival as an missioner. With him Christianity spread with giant paths through the island and the old believe of the druids slowly slowly disappeared. In the middle of 6th century famine gave an easy game to the monks to convince the rest of the island to change to the new faith. The druids time was definitely over. During this period many historical events,, legends and manuscripts were written and one of the most beautiful is the 'book of Kells' which maybe was written by Saint Columcill himself in Britain but found in a monastery in Kells.

The first English invasion was in 684 AD but the only one for the following 500 years with only slaves and nothing more. The next then was for a much longer period as we know today.

Around 800 AD the Vikings arrived from Denmark and Norway and started to spread fear and terror along the coast, later also in the inner island going up the rivers. The monastic centers with their wealth were the most attacked ones. Slowly the Vikings settled along the coast first and then at the river-shores, first small communities but growing time in time. Dublin is a Viking village originally. But 980 Màell Sechnaill mac Domnaill, high king in Tara, won an important battle against the invaders.

Because of the complicated system with a high king and kings and princes all with own lands and governments the island was never really united and so it was not really difficult for the Normans in the 12th century to conquer the island. The king of Leinster, Diamait MacMuchada, had brought the Norman knights onto the island to re-conquer his lands taken by the high king. After a short time his land and much more was returned to him and he gave the land of Dublin and Waterford to the knight and his son-in-law Richard de Claire. But that was not the intend of Henry II who then proclaimed his son John as king of Ireland. But he became king of England after his fathers death and so Ireland went under the English crown.

Under the 'protection' of king John the Normans came to the island and settled everywhere. They built watch-towers along the coast, castles along the rivers. There were a few counties in the beginning but with the inheritance they went smaller and lost their power. Fineen MacCarthy went in battle against a few counts at Callaan and started a revolution of the others. The land-owners fought for their own land and started to regain their power.

With the back death, the plague, in 1348 the Norman period ended because of dieing in many in towns and big communities rather than the peasants in the country.

Only a very small amount of Normans remain faithfully to the English when most of the Norman-Irish counts thought themselves as Irish and lived like the 'old English'. When Henry VIII in 1541 proclaimed Ireland as a free country he was chosen by the English parliament in Dublin to be the king of the country. With this decision there started the big and exhausting battle against the Catholics with proclamation, laws, discrimination and persecution.

In 17th century the big fights against each others started and cost the live of many of them on both sides. In 1649 – 1653 Cromwell re-conquered Ireland to the English king which paid two third of the Irish population with death. All the land had gone to Protestants and the counts where extremely oppressed.

In the famous battle at the Boyne-river in 1690 the Protestant William the Silent or William of Orange fought against the great Irish hope the Catholic John II who was supported by the Irish counts to take back the throne in England. The defeat took all of the Irish aristocracy and the so called 'penal laws' every right off them.

1740 – 41 has been the first great famine caused by bad weather and even worst economy by the landlords and cost the life of a big part of the population. After that they regulated the export to guarantee enough food in the own country and the rest of the century was peaceful till 1798 when another bloody revolution was crushed out.

The two parts try to find a way out of the disaster which again was suppressed by George III. Only the Irish lawyer Daniel O' Connell can get in 1829 a few rights for the Catholic population. He was the first Catholic in the parliament and organized the first demonstrations in mass. The greatest ever organized by him was on the hills of Tara, seat of the high kings in the past, with one million participants.

The second great famine was in the years 1845 – 49 caused by the peronospora of the potatoes who arrived from America to Ireland around 1840 and reduce the whole Irish population from 8 to 4 million people. A big part immigrates over the ocean to America. In this time the school-system became new and obligated to all children but forced them also to speak only English and 'forget' Irish.

In September 1914 the 'Home Rule' became confirmed which opens the way to an own government within the United Kingdom of Britain. Between 1916 and 1921 there are again battles between nationalists and unionists and ended with the nowadays division of the Ireland. Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins signed in December 1921 an Angle-Irish contract of peace that should have given peace between the northern parts of Protestants and the free country of Ireland.

1937 officially a new constitution as 'Republic of Ireland' or 'Eire' was proclaimed. 1949 it leaves the British Commonwealth. The disorders in Northern Ireland, the Protestant part and part of Great Britain, are resolved with a contract of peace only in the beginning of 1990. Just in that moment Ireland takes over a great subvention from the European Union to which it is member since 1973 and changes from the poorest European country to the second rich thanks to a good economy plan. The 'Celtic Tiger' lead the country to a fast wealth but by the end of the 'golden river' and thanks to bank scandals and the worldwide financial crises it falls again to one of the poorest.

Ireland and Northern Ireland today work closely together and the fights of the IRA organization officially have stopped since 1998. Nevertheless at Belfast they never dropped the wall, people are still living 'behind the curtains' and from now to then there are some 'accidents'.

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