Northern Ireland – a brief history

The 12th century saw the first involvement by England in Irish affairs when the Earl of Pembroke, known as Strongbow, intervenes in a local dispute in Leinster in 1170. King Henry II lands the following year, Ireland being awarded to him by Pope Alexander III in 1172. In the 16th century, first Henry VIII and then Elizabeth I take an increasing interest in Ireland. Colonization increases, sparking off several rebellions late in the century.

The 17th century saw the start of the ‘Plantation of Ulster’ – the systematic colonisation of Donegal, Tyrone, Derry, Armagh, Cavan and Fermanagh by settlers from England and Scotland. Oliver Cromwell then conquered the whole of Ireland and set about opening the island up to colonization. In 1690 Protestant King William of Orange’s troops defeated the Catholic army of King James at the Battle of the Boyne to confirm his claim to the English throne and with it Ireland.

Centuries later, in 1912, amid a growing home rule campaign, the Ulster Unionist leader, Sir Edward Carson, sets up the original Ulster Volunteer Force as a bulwark against Dublin’s domination of the Protestant-majority ‘six counties’ in the north of Ireland. Carson is still regarded by many as the founder of the state of Northern Ireland. The first Northern Ireland Parliament opens in 1921.

After a long and bitter guerrilla campaign against the British Army, Ireland (making up the southern counties of the island) is granted partial home rule as the Irish Free State. Its architect, Michael Collins, is assassinated during the ensuing civil war between his Free State forces and the IRA (Irish Republican Army), which refuses to accept the partition. Ireland becomes a full republic in 1949. The British government gives new constitutional guarantees to the Northern Ireland Parliament at Stormont, but the conflict with the Irish Republican Army continues, escalating from 1972.

During the Easter of 1999, Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein, the IRA’s political wing, made the Good Friday Agreement to seek a way toward peace and democracy. In November 1999, they reached a constitutional agreement. The challenge then became to convince smaller break-away groups to join at the table.

After almost a thousand years, the situation continues as one of the longest disputes in history.

Rulers of Ireland

Máelsechnaill mac Domnaill (d. 1022)
Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig (d. 1014)
Tairrdelbach Ua Briain (d. 1086)
Muirchertach Ua Briain (d. 1118)
Domnall Ua Lochlainn (d. 1121)
Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair (d. 1156)
Muirchertach mac Lochlainn (d. 1166)
Ruaidri Ua Conchobair (d. 1198)

Ruaidri was the last native king of Ireland.
Pope Alexander III granted Ireland to King Henry II of England in 1172

02/03/2010. Category: history. Tags: , .

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