Ireland History

By | January 9, 2023

Ireland – national flag

Ireland’s tricolor is known from approximately 1830. The model is the French, but with the traditional Irish colors: Green for “The Green Island” and the Catholic population, orange originates from William III of Orange’s livery color and symbolizes the island’s Protestants; moreover white for hope of peace and unity on the island. The current order of colors dates from 1920. The flag was de facto used in 1922, but only officially in 1937.

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Ireland (Prehistory)

The first traces of people in Ireland date back to the Mesolithic. In Southern and Central Ireland, several settlements have been found by lakes from 7000-6000 BC. with microlit tips. From approximately 6000-4000 BC known finds along rivers and along the coast from the Larnian culture with larger splitting tools. Agriculture was introduced approximately 4000 BC House plots are known for well-built, square houses, approximately 12 m × 4-5 m, and in Western Ireland well-preserved Neolithic field systems have been uncovered.

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According to a2zgov, approximately 3500 BC megalithic tombs began to be built with great variety, from small simple dolmens to impressive giant tombs. Among the early megalithic tombs belong court cairns, where the chambers can open out to an enclosed courtyard inside the mound. What is special about Ireland is that megalithic tombs can gather in dense burial sites, often around a giant burial chamber. In the Boyne Valley north of Dublin are the three largest burial chambers, Knowth, Dowth and New Grange, each with a diameter of almost 100 m, and very close to Knowth there are also 18 smaller burial chambers. The stones of the burial chambers are often richly decorated with carved geometric motifs. From the last part of the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, stone circles are known, eg Grange near Limerick, with a diameter of approximately 65 m.

Bronze Age

began around 2000 BC. In Ireland there are natural deposits of gold, copper and to some extent tin. At Mount Gabriel in the county of Cork is an important early mining site with main activity between 1700 and 1500 BC. Quantities of small mine shafts with a maximum depth of 11 m intersect the sides of the low mountain. The many metal objects of the Bronze Age originate mostly from treasure finds, either cultic closures or depots. A special Irish type from the Early Bronze Age are crescent-shaped gold necklaces, lunulae; some ended up far from Ireland, thus two have been found in Denmark. In the Late Bronze Age, the gold wealth increased, and large bronze horns are known to be related to the Nordic lurks. The settlement consisted of small fenced villages with round huts.

Iron Age

In the second half of the 1st millennium BC. there was a smooth transition to the Iron Age, where many prestigious objects were still made of bronze. approximately 300 BC Celtic art was introduced, building on swirling ribbons and geometric patterns, which developed over the following many centuries in a particular Irish style. The Iron Age includes a large part of Ireland’s ramparts and fortifications. Some ramparts, such as Tara north of Dublin, should be seen as centers of cult and ceremonies and as a kind of royal seat. In the centuries after the birth of Christ, Ireland gradually began to enter history, and from later written down semi-mythological accounts, strong, rival small kingdoms were under development, often centered on ramparts.

Ireland (History – 430-1169)

Ireland (History – 430-1169), the introduction of Christianity and the time of the small kingdoms (approximately 430-795)

Ireland was Christianized approximately 430 by the Welsh missionary Patrick, and the oldest surviving written sources show a community with a distinctive blend of pagan and Christian culture as well as its own alphabet. The island was divided into more than 100 small kingdoms, whose kings often had their headquarters (crannóg) behind isolated palisade works on islands in the great rivers and lakes or in ring forts (ráth) on ridges. However, a common legal order existed, which was maintained by itinerant judges, narrators and singers, the so-called Brehons, based on the tradition of the Celtic druids. The small kings fought over the large herds of cattle that formed the basis of society’s economy.

The oldest church was organized in dioceses as on the continent, but soon the monastic system was given a very central role. Some monks sought the extreme isolation of small islands, while others were extroverted, such as Columbanus, who brought the Irish monastic order to the continent. The Irish Church had several features, including a different method of calculating for Easter than the Roman one, which eventually isolated it from the mainland continent. In order to calculate Easter, the Irish monasteries kept about 600 annual records, and gradually they began to record important events of an ecclesiastical and political nature. These yearbooks, the Irish annals, are of a unique scale, and early Irish medieval history is therefore better illuminated than in other European societies.

In Ireland, the large monastic communities organized themselves with their own army system, which was strong enough to ensure a peaceful existence in the divided society. The sanctity of the monasteries attracted the interest of the kings, due to the herds’ cattle flocks and silver and gold riches.

approximately 750 the great monasteries had become so secularized that they themselves took an active part in the Irish power struggle, which had eventually resulted in the power being in the hands of 4-5 great kings and their allied abbots. Refuge castles, so-called round towers, shot up all over the island. In response to this secularization, the great reform movement Celi Dé emerged.

The Age of the Vikings (795-1169)

In 795, the Irish annals recorded the first Viking attacks, and the yearbooks contain up to 500 entries about the Norsemen in Ireland in the period up to approximately 1130. In 841, the Norwegians established Dublin as a winter camp, and after a series of battles, Ivar and Olav became the kings of the Vikings. Eventually a group of warriors arose, who moved freely between the Danish camp in York in England and the Norwegians in Dublin. The Dublin kings tried several times to conquer York, which sparked internal strife. In such a situation, the Irish, who for once performed together, expelled the Vikings from all their camps in 902.

In 917 a new Viking army returned from York, and for the next few decades York-Dublin was a strong political axis. The English conquest of Danelagen also weakened the Irish Vikings, and from approximately 940 Dublin and the other new camps like Limerick, Wexford and Waterford survived only because the Irish kings needed them. The Vikings were excellent mercenaries, and their ships, axes and swords found good use, for example in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.

The presence of the Vikings in the coastal signs did not change the basic structure of Irish society, but their form of war came to characterize the strife between the small kingdoms. The sanctity of the monasteries was not respected by the Gentiles and already in the 800-t. nor any longer by the Irish themselves, just as the many cattle robberies had a far more devastating effect on society when the kings employed professional warriors for large conquests. However, it never managed to unite the entire island under one king, even though the king of Munster, Brian Boru, was close by.

The Viking camps also changed character and significance, and from the mid-900’s. there was considerable trade in the camps, where the Irish kings found good imports from the continent and the Orient. The craft grew, and excavations in the 1970’s and 1980’s of Dublin and later of Waterford testify to active trading towns. Money was minted by the kings of Dublin from 997, and it became quite widespread in Irish society as well. The Vikings themselves seem to have become Christians during the 900’s.

Ireland had few exports that could pay for foreign luxury. Skins from the large herds of cattle were made as parchment for the monasteries’ writing rooms, and prisoners of war were made in large numbers as slaves via Dublin to both England, the continent and the Nordic countries.

The Irish kings sought to copy the lifestyle of the Norman kings, by, like Connaught King Turloch O’Connor (1088-1156), erecting castles in the Norman style. When a disgruntled local king, Dermot MacMurrough of Leinster, in 1169 invited Norman warriors from Wales to assist in the struggle for power, a new invasion was opened.

History of Ireland – 1169-1691

Ireland (History – 1169-1691), Between Celts and English (1169-1534)

England’s presence in Ireland dates back to 1169, when Richard De Clare (d. 1176), Earl of Pembroke, who allied with Dermot MacMurrough occupied large parts of Eastern Ireland and aided the conquest of Dublin by 1171-72. The request for help was originally addressed to Henry II, but as his attention was focused primarily on the continent, the king’s involvement was limited to allowing Dermot to seek assistance among his subjects. Despite the fact that the invasion was left to the enterprise of the individual nobles, the conquest progressed relatively quickly, and in the middle of the 1300’s. was 3/4of the island under English supremacy. The lack of support from the home country, however, meant that the British were unable to carry out a systematic subjugation of the archipelago, and their presence at that time was therefore hardly a significant threat to the economic and political life of Ireland. The magnates remained a minority, and after just a few generations, they differed neither in language nor dress significantly from the native petty kings. The fact that the immigrant nobility did not represent a sustainable alternative to the traditional Celtic way of life can be seen, among other things. read that the English-minded part of the population in the 1400’s. was largely confined to the coastal areas, the larger cities, and the immediate vicinity of Dublin, called the Pale.

The Celtic renaissance was evident by a violent flourishing of interest in the original literature, but also many attempts by the statutes of Kilkenny to prevent any intercourse with the Celts testified that the English were culturally in retreat. The autonomy of the Irish reached its peak with Gerald (Garret More) Fitzgerald (d. 1513), Earl of Kildare, representative of the English Crown 1477-94 and 1496-1513, who by virtue of his kinship with both Celts and English personified the fusion of the two population groups.

The final conquest of Ireland (1534-1691)

Had the Irish during the War of the Roses been largely left to themselves, marked 1500-t. a crucial turning point in the island’s history. The House of Tudor had ambitions to play an active role on the continent, and the fear of seeing Ireland as a springboard for an attack on England quickly created a need for a more long-term policy towards the islanders. By 1536, the Irish Parliament, recruited exclusively from the English colony, had recognized the King as head of the Church of Ireland on the basis of the Act of Supremacy of 1534; and when Henry VIII in 1541 was the first to be crowned King of Ireland, it was yet another underlining of the desire to tie the Irish people closer to the crown. The Reformation left a few traces outside the Pale, but the requirement that the Celtic nobility should stand in a vassal relationship with the king was an important means of controlling the possession of land by the native population.

The pervasive feudalization of the Irish aristocracy led to a widespread uprising in Ulster, the so-called New Year’s War of 1594-1603, and after the defeat a large-scale expulsion of the Catholic landowners in favor of imported Protestants from England, plantation was initiated. The method had already been used in Munster, but it was only in Ulster that the decision entailed a radical change in the existing structure of society.

The antagonism of the increasingly powerful Protestant parliament in England eventually forced the Irish to join around Charles I (see Confederation of Kilkenny), but his defeat in the English Civil War meant that ownership of land was then reserved for Catholics who had not carried arms against the republic. After the Restoration in 1660, Charles II sought to some extent to mitigate the consequences of Cromwell’s policy, but the Act of Settlement 1662) did not shake the fact that the Catholics, who still owned 60% of Ireland’s land in 1640, had lost all economic significance. James II was, especially after the expulsion from England in 1688, more responsive to the demand for land and religious tolerance, but the defeats of William III of Orange’s troops at Boyne in 1690 and at Aughrim the following year and the conclusion of peace at Limerick marked, that it was over with the Catholics as a political power factor.

Ireland (History – 1691-1914)

Ireland (History – 1691-1914), English rule and demands for independence (1691-approx. 1870)

The defeat of the uprising in 1691 was the beginning of Ireland’s subjugation under Anglo-Anglican rule. The Catholic majority of the population (approximately 70%) was excluded from offices as well as from the right to vote locally and to Parliament, and the Catholic Church and education were suppressed. Moreover, according to the so-called Penal Laws, Catholics were not allowed to own or lease land, but only rent on termination. The Catholic part of the population possessed around 1690 still approximately 20% of the earth, 100 years later the number was reduced to approximately 5%.

Ireland was ruled as a conquered country, and the country’s economic interests, wool production, were subordinated to England. Just under 1 million Presbyterians in Northern Ireland had the right to vote, but not to stand for election, and here constituted an economically important, partly land-owning middle class, while approximately 1/2 million. Anglicans owned 5/6 of Ireland’s land and dominated Parliament in Dublin.

Already in the 1700’s. the foundation was laid for a positive discrimination of and a differentiated social and economic development in the predominantly Protestant Ulster province. However, the American Revolution and increased Irish self-awareness meant a relaxation of the oppressive legislation: the Presbyterians gained equality, the Parliament in Dublin increased power, and in the 1790’s the remaining Penal Laws were repealed under the influence of the French Revolution.

In 1791, the Society of United Irishmen was formed with demands for Catholic emancipation and later full Irish independence. In return, the Orange Society (see orangists) was established in Ulster in 1795, claiming the position of the Protestants and the union with England. A French attempt to support Irish independence failed, and in 1798 a Catholic uprising was bloodily defeated in Wexford.

England then set out against the Irish Parliament, which abolished itself in 1800 after pressure and bribery. On 1 January 1801, the union between Ireland and England entered into force. The Irish now had a seat in Westminster, but the Catholics remained without political rights. A new attempt at rebellion in 1803 by the Society of United Irishmen failed.

Guerrilla activity had existed in Ireland since the 1700’s, the so-called Whiteboys, and violence and looting increased from the 1820’s. With the lawyer Daniel O’Connell as leader, demands were now made for the right to vote for the Catholics, which was implemented in 1829, and in 1830-41 the whig governments in Westminster curtailed the power of the Anglican State Church. O’Connell also demanded from 1833 that the union with England be abolished, and in the following years he gained great support for the so-called Repeal Association.

Ireland was ravaged by potato blight 1845-47; it haunted the whole of Europe in those years, but had catastrophic consequences in Ireland, when large sections of the population of now 8 million. were dependent on potatoes as daily food. It is estimated that approximately 1 mio. died of starvation or comorbidities. There had from the 1700’s. found a still Irish-Catholic emigration place, which was now greatly increased to especially the United States. The population fell to approximately 5 mio. in 1880 and continued to decline. Poor harvest years could still well into the second half of the 1800’s result in widespread distress in the rural population.

A new nationalist uprising, launched by the Young Ireland Association in 1848, was put down, but the demand for Irish independence was continued by the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and by the exile organization in the United States, the Fenian Brotherhood (see the Phoenicians).

In 1869 Gladstone abolished the Anglican State Church and in 1870 strengthened the legal position of the tenants vis-à-vis the landowners. An incipient change of ownership led to 35% of Ireland’s farmers owning their land around 1875.

Agricultural crisis and struggle for the Home Rule (approximately 1870-1914)

The agricultural crisis of the mid-1870’s further aggravated the situation. In 1879, the organization Land League was established as a tool to promote the continued transfer of land into Irish hands, and it waged a militant battle against English landowners, tenants, etc. In connection with the Land League’s activity, which resulted in murder and looting,. the concept of boycott.

At the same time, from 1870, demands for self-government, the Home Rule, were raised in Parliament by CS Parnell. He was, as leader of the Irish in the House of Commons, the tongue in cheek in the parliamentary balance and pursued a militant anti-British policy in Ireland.

In 1885, Gladstone was overthrown by Parnell due to dissatisfaction with his moderate Irish reforms, but Gladstone now accepted the Home Rule, ie. a parliament in Dublin with full sovereignty with the exception of the areas of foreign policy, defense and trade, and he returned to power with Parnell’s support.

Parnell’s involvement in a divorce case split the Irish party and ended his political career, and Gladstone was stopped by the House of Lords in his fight for the Home Rule. The Irish fæsteres position, however, was continuously enhanced with new laws in 1885, 1891, 1893, 1909, and the number of its owned farmers increased to comprise about 2/3 of the bond in the class 1918th

The constant unrest in the countryside severely weakened Irish agriculture in the last decades of the 1800’s, at the same time as Denmark and the Netherlands conquered the British food market. This widened the gap between the in many places backward, Catholic and predominantly agricultural-oriented Southern Ireland and the Protestant Ulster with a widespread textile industry, shipyards in Belfast and a more progressive agriculture, based on medium-sized farms.

In 1910, the Irish votes in Parliament became decisive again, and in 1912 it was decided to give Ireland the Home Rule, which the House of Lords could now delay for two years but not stop. The Protestants of Ulster turned against this development and in 1913 formed a provisional government and an illegal army of 100,000 men, the Ulster Volunteers, under the leadership of Edward Carson. The Catholic majority responded by setting up Irish Volunteers of 180,000 men, and an Irish Civil War threatened when World War I broke out in 1914.

Ireland (History – from 1914)

Ireland (History – from 1914), Irish independence (1914-1923)

The outbreak of war caused the Union government to postpone the practical implementation of the Home Rule until peacetime. By agreeing to a home rule system which, in practice, could mean a division of Ireland, the hitherto dominant Irish Parliamentary Party had become vulnerable to militant republicanism. To prevent a split, the party’s leader, John Redmond, successfully called on the majority of the Catholic civilian army, the Irish Volunteers, to join the British Army. The militant movement Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), see the Phoenicians, used the absence of a domestic defense force to stage a long-planned coup, led by Patrick Pearse, which, together with its “Provisional Government”, proclaimed an independent Republic of Ireland on 24.4.1916 (Easter Monday) from the Occupied Headquarters in Dublin. However, the Easter uprising did not receive the support of the civilian population, and militarily the uprising was a failure. However, when the British government demonstrated its power by executing 17 of the uprising leaders and later under the impression of failing war on the continent threatened to carry out a forced expulsion in Ireland, popular sentiment in Southern Ireland turned from the Irish Parliamentary Party to Arthur Griffith’s hitherto insignificant party. Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin won the election in 1918 with a landslide victory and put himself at the head of a provisional “Irish Assembly” led byEamon De Valera.

In 1921, Sinn Féin succeeded in a strategy that combined political pressure with a tacit acceptance of the unauthorized Irish Republican Army (IRA).) guerrilla war against the British government administration and law enforcement, to force negotiations with the British government. These led to the conclusion of an Anglo-Irish Treaty on 6 December 1921, which approved the establishment of the Irish Free State, which consisted of the 26 southern counties, and a Northern Irish state of six counties with provisional home rule within the British Union. However, it was not only the partition of Ireland but also a provision that members of the future Irish Parliament should swear allegiance to the British King that made the treaty unacceptable to groups within Sinn Féin and the IRA. Sinn Féin was split into a wing, led by Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins, which accepted the terms of the treaty, and a Republican wing, supported by Eamon De Valera. Although De Valera at the election in June 1922 had to see his wish for a rejection of the treaty rejected by a large majority of voters, the controversy triggered a short but bloody civil war, which cost Collins his life, yet in May 1923 ended in a clear victory for the Provisional Government.

From Free State to Republic (1923-59)

At the subsequent election in August 1923, supporters of the Anglo-Irish Treaty under the party name Cumann na nGaedheal won just under half of the 128 seats in the new parliament. However, when Sinn Féin decided not to take his own 44 seats, the new government under WT Cosgrave could rule without opposition until 1927, when De Valera returned to parliamentary politics at the head of the newly formed party Fianna Fáil. Cosgrave’s government sought to rebuild a foundation for an Irish economy that had been weakened by the loss of the industrialized northeastern areas of the island. In addition, efforts were made to re-establish the social order that had been disrupted by years of war and social anarchy; a significant support for this came from the Catholic hierarchy and the public administration, which was a legacy of the Union era.

Prime Minister
1923-32 William T. Cosgrave
1932-48 Eamon De Valera
1948-51 John A. Costello
1951-54 Eamon De Valera
1954-57 John A. Costello
1957-59 Eamon De Valera
1959-66 Sean Lemass
1966-73 John M. Lynch
1973-77 Liam Cosgrave
1977-79 John M. Lynch
1979-81 Charles J. Haughey
1981-82 Garret Fitzgerald
1982 Charles J. Haughey
1982-87 Garret Fitzgerald
1987-92 Charles J. Haughey
1992-94 Albert Reynolds
1994-97 John Bruton
1997-2008 Bertie Ahern
2008-11 Brian Cowen
2011- Enda Kenny

By appointing a number of prominent Protestant businessmen, lawyers and cultural figures to the new chamber of the new Irish Parliament, the Senate, and by accepting the existing north-south borders in 1925, Cosgrave also regained some goodwill among economically powerful Southern Irish Protestants. On the other hand, his government, which represented the socially disadvantaged in the countryside and in the cities, never gained the support of the third of the population who had been politically marginalized in 1923, or of smaller peasants and economically disadvantaged groups. This led to the De Valera and Fianna Fáil party in coalition with the small Labor Party in the 1932 election being able to take power from Cosgrave. His own party soon disbanded, after a merger with two smaller parties to re-emerge in 1933 asFine Gael.

However, despite its promises of rapid industrialization of the economy and a commitment to close cooperation between the private and public sectors, De Valera failed to improve the national economy, which was severely hampered by the world crisis of the 1930’s. His decision to withhold Irish farmers’ interest payments on loans taken out in Britain before independence also led to a costly economic war on tariffs with the British government, tariff war. This conflict was a parallel to his government’s implementation of a more symbolic break with Britain, namely the abolition of the Republican-hated allegiance to the British royal house and the adoption of a new constitution for an Irish republic in 1937. Here the state was given the double name Éire/Ireland. and was re-established with a Gaelic-Catholic profile. However, the outbreak of World War II, in which Ireland began its policy of neutrality with the continued division of the Irish island as a justification, meant that the official proclamation of the Republic of Ireland did not take place until 1949. The British response to the proclamation of Ireland’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Nations was a law of Ireland confirming the status of the Northern Ireland State, Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom.

Economic growth and modernization (from 1959)

When Eamon De Valera ended his third and final term as Prime Minister in 1959 to become his country’s president, which he was until 1973, Ireland was on the verge of dramatic change, which in a few decades transformed the conservative agricultural society into a modern, liberal society with a significant industrial sector. De Valera’s successor, Sean Lemass, broke previous governments’ failed economic protectionism and sought to integrate Ireland into the international market economy.

1938-45 Douglas Hyde
1945-59 Sean O’Ceallaig
1959-73 Eamon De Valera
1973-74 Erskine Childers
1974-76 Cearbhall O’Dalaigh
1976-90 Patrick Hillery
1990-97 Mary Robinson
1997-2011 Mary McAleese
2011- Michael D. Higgins

As a result, Ireland gained a share in the general economic recovery in the West in the 1960’s and began to free itself from its previous dependence on the British market. It managed to bring the continued high rate of emigration to a temporary halt until it picked up again when an economic downturn set in from the late 1970’s. As large overseas investments in the production of information technology for the European market, together with massive bloc subsidies from the EU in the 1980’s and 1990’s, transformed Ireland into a high-growth economy, emigration and very high unemployment began to fall sharply again.

Historical overview
ca. 7000 – 6000 BC Mesolithic.
approx. 4000 BC Agriculture, Neolithic field systems in Western Ireland.
approx. 3500 BC Megalitgrave; dolmens, giant burial chambers and burial sites.
approx. 2000 BC Bronze Age; establishment of mining.
approx. 300 BC Celtic art is introduced.
approx. 100 BC Iron Age; ramparts and fortifications.
approx. 430-795 Christianity is introduced; small kingdoms, but common legal order. Monasticism develops into a secular power.
750 The monastic reform movement Céli Dé.
795 The first Viking attacks.
841 The Vikings build Dublin.
1014 An Irish army defeats a large group of Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf.
1170-72 After several attempts, the English succeed in conquering Dublin and Eastern Ireland with the help of Irish petty kings.
1350-1500 Most of Ireland comes under English supremacy. The English are assimilated and Irish culture retains its distinctiveness. Only the area around Dublin (the Pale) is dominated by the English.
1536 The Irish Parliament recognizes the English King as the head of the Church.
1541 Henry VIII of England is crowned King of Ireland.
1594-1603 The Nine Years’ War between the Irish nobility and the English, which then promoted the influx of Protestants.
1660- The English king restricts the right of Catholics to own land; their economic and political influence is minimized.
1690-91 James II of England’s armies is defeated by William III of Orange.
1691 The Irish Catholic majority loses the right to vote and the right to office (Penal Laws). Ireland is ruled as an occupied country by the English; Parliament is dominated by the Anglican minority.
1700-t. Relaxation of Catholic conditions.
1790’s The last remnants of Penal Laws are repealed.
1791 The Society of United Irishmen is established with demands for the equality of Catholics and Irish independence.
1800 Parliament repeals itself.
1801 Union between England and Ireland; only the Protestants get a seat in the English Parliament.
1800-t. The establishment of Irish freedom movements; incipient guerrilla war.
1829 Catholics are given the right to vote.
1845-47 The potato plague is raging, emigration to the United States is increasing.
1870’s The legal position of the tenant farmers vis-à-vis the landowners is strengthened and the Irish ownership of the land is growing. Home Rule Requirements.
1885 Limited Home Rule Introduced; Parliament in Dublin.
1912 Parliament in London adopts extended Home Rule for Ireland, but the scheme is postponed. Drafts for Civil War; the Protestants formed in 1913 the Voluntary Civilian Army Ulster Volunteers and the Catholics Irish Volunteers.
1916 The Easter Uprising; the proclamation of an independent Irish republic defeated by the English military.
1919-21 The Irish War of Independence.
1921 The Irish Free State and a Northern Ireland state with Home Rule are established.
1937 Adoption of a Constitution of the Republic of Ireland (Éire).
1940-45 WW2; Ireland neutral.
1949 Official Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland; withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Nations.
1973 Member of the Community.
1985 The Anglo-Irish Agreement.

The increase in prosperity, urbanization and openness to foreign countries, which culminated in Ireland’s accession to the EC in 1973, led to major changes in lifestyles and values. The parallel political liberalization, symbolized by the election of Mary Robinson as president in 1990, meant a breach of the traditional understanding between the state and the Catholic Church. The church had hitherto had an informal veto over parts of social and health policy legislation and had also used its education monopoly and censorship to protect “Irish” values ​​from secularisation and “foreign” influence.

The political change of course also had an effect on relations with Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. The rhetorical confrontation policy of the 1950’s was replaced in the 1960’s by a pragmatic dialogue between the Prime Minister of Ireland Sean Lemass and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Terence O’Neill in an attempt to overcome the IRA’s violent campaign in the border areas between the two states. The escalation of the conflict in Northern Ireland after 1969 put an end to this dialogue, but over time made Irish politicians see the ethnic-national conflict as a problem that could only be solved if the interplay between historically conditioned relations were taken into account. between majorities and minorities, north and south and the governments of Dublin and London. Fearing that the conflict would spread to the politically stable and culturally homogeneous Irish state, In 1985, the Irish Government sought co-operation with the British Government. It resulted in the conclusion of the same yearAnglo-Irish Agreement and later, from 1993, in the so-called Downing Street Declaration. The declaration initiated the peace process that culminated in 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement, an internationally recognized treaty which, among other things, reintroduced Northern Ireland autonomy and removed the Republic’s constitutional requirements for Northern Ireland. Although the peace process has not yet been said to be complete, either at the popular or institutional level, today there is both formal and real peace in Northern Ireland, especially after the IRA recognized the Good Friday Agreement and in July 2005 declared its armed campaign complete.

Following the 2002 parliamentary elections, the parties Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats formed a new government with Bertie Ahern as Prime Minister. Sinn Féin went ahead and won five seats, while the election’s big loser, Fine Gael, went from 54 to 31 seats. Since the election, however, opinion polls have pointed to a future strengthening of Fine Gael and a further strengthening of Sinn Féin, which is thereby becoming an important political factor. Ahern resigned in 2008 and was replaced by Brian Cowen. The government and most of the established parties suffered a major defeat when Irish voters in June 2008 rejected the Treaty of Lisbon, which was to streamline cooperation in the EU.

Ireland National Flag