Ireland History

By | June 15, 2021

First residents

No later than around 8000 BC. People lived in Ireland. They were hunters and gatherers, but also fishermen. From 4000 BC BC the people settled down and now practiced agriculture. Pottery was made. Megalithic structures emerged, for example the barrow of Newgrange, and circular stone settings such as the stone circle of Grange near Limerick. From 2500 BC The Bronze Age began.

The Celts are coming

Around 300 BC The Iron Age began. Now Celts immigrated to Ireland and brought their Celtic language with them. A number of ethnic groups belong to the Celts. They formed numerous kingdoms, which were then grouped into five great kingdoms that coincide with the historical provinces: Munster, Connacht, Ulster, Leinster, and Meath. The Celts left fortifications as Duns (round stone buildings), Raths (round earthworks) and Crannogs (artificial islands made of logs).


The Christianization of Ireland began in the 5th century. Among the missionaries was St. Patrick, who is now the national saint of the country and who is celebrated on March 17th every year. In contrast to Ireland, Great Britain had been conquered by the Romans. There were slave hunters traveling there who also kidnapped Patrick, probably the son of a Roman officer, to Ireland. He escaped and was sent by the Pope to Ireland as bishop in 432. There he founded monasteries, schools and churches and carried out his work as a missionary until his death.

Early Middle Ages and the Vikings

A period of prosperity followed that lasted for three centuries. Numerous monasteries emerged. The end of this period came with the raids of the Vikings, who went on raids in Ireland from 795 onwards. They founded some settlements. In 1005 Brian Boru became the high king of an Ireland that had been united for nine years. He drove out the Vikings in 1014, but died in the decisive battle, so that Ireland fell into several kingdoms again.

The Normans (1168-1535)

The Normans had conquered England in 1066, and now they have come to Ireland too. Because they were the descendants of the conquerors of England, they are also called Anglo-Norman. England began to rule Ireland for centuries. Many Irish were expelled to the west of the island, which until then had hardly been populated. In the course of time, however, the English slowly lost their real rule over the Irish.

Early modern period (1536-1801)

In 1541 Ireland was directly subordinated to the English crown and, as the Kingdom of Ireland, now officially belonged to England. Henry VIII was now also the King of the Irish. While the majority of the population in Ireland belonged to the Catholic faith, the English were predominantly of the Protestant Anglican Church. For fear of rebellions, Anglican English people settled in Ireland, especially in Ulster in the north-east of the Irish island.

But that heated up the resentment of the Irish and there were some bloody uprisings. Ulster developed into the core area of ​​English rule in Ireland – and even more a source of conflict.

Various measures were taken in the 17th century to suppress the Irish. Ireland’s trade was restricted and large estates were mainly in the hands of Protestant English. Further uprisings were put down.

History of Ireland from the 19th century to the present day

Joined Great Britain in 1801 and Great Famine in 1846-1849

In 1801 the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” was created by annexing Ireland to Great Britain through the Act of Union. The Great Famine in Ireland began in 1846, when the potato harvest was destroyed by the potato rot in several years. Many Irish starved to death, others emigrated, especially to the USA. When the English parliament did not help in this emergency, the aspirations for independence only increased.

Home Rule

In the Home Rule movement, the Irish are now calling for their own Irish parliament. Several such bills were introduced into the (English) parliament, but only the one from 1914 was approved. However, this was not implemented because of the outbreak of the First World War.

At Easter 1916 there was an uprising in the capital Dublin. It ended in bloody fashion and their leaders were executed. The Easter Rising was nevertheless a milestone on the road to independence.

Ireland becomes independent – Northern Ireland is created

In 1919 the Irish MPs proclaimed their own parliament – and the Irish War of Independence began. The “Army of the Republic of Ireland” (IRA) led this movement. In July 1921 the war ended and in December a treaty was signed with England giving 26 of the 32 counties independence. The Irish Free State was thus established. However, the province of Ulster in the northeast remained with six counties in Great Britain (Northern Ireland).

Ireland also remained a Dominion of Great Britain and the British King was still King of Ireland. The IRA fought for complete independence in the Irish Civil War from 1922. In April 1923 the civil war came to an end after a great bloodshed on both sides. The Irish Free State existed until 1937.

Republic of Ireland from 1937 to date

When a new constitution came into force in 1937, the Free State became the Republic of Ireland. Ireland was neutral during World War II. Ireland left the Commonwealth in 1949.

Éamon de Valera, a leader in the struggle for independence, held several political offices over the next few decades and was Prime Minister of Ireland on several occasions and President of the country from 1959 to 1973.

According to smber, 1969-1998 lasted the Northern Ireland conflict: living in Northern Ireland Catholics demanded connection to Ireland, while the English Protestants who were once came here as settlers who wanted to remain with the UK. There were numerous violent clashes. It was not until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 that a ceasefire was established.

Until the 1990s Ireland was an economically weak and poor agricultural country. When it opened up to foreign companies, however, it developed into a modern and economically strong state. Only the international financial crisis ended this time in 2007. Ireland is now recovering. Ireland joined the euro zone in 2002, then with eleven other countries, and has been using the euro as its currency ever since.

Northern Ireland conflict