Éire or Ireland, the third largest island in Europe, and the 20th largest island in the world – consists of two parts – The sovereign state of “Ireland” or “Republic of Ireland” that comprises of 5/6th of the land mass, and “Northern Ireland” that is a constituent part the the UK (United Kingdom) for the remaining 1/5th. Ireland is an island that has the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Irish Sea to the East that separates it physically from Britain. Ireland consists of over 84,421 km or 32,595 square miles. Residing to the northwest of continental Europe, Eire is surrounded by hundreds of isles, islets, and islands. Ireland possesses over 2,300 miles (3,700 km) of coast line and has a mean elevation of 3,415 feet (1,041 meters) with its highest point at Carrauntoohil. The Largest city in “Ireland” is Dublin, while the largest in Northern Ireland is Belfast. Ireland has over 6,197,100 inhabitants as of 2008 consisting of primarily Irish, Ulster Scots, and Irish Travellers. They were over 8 million in population prior to the Great Famine which destroyed a good portion of the population in the mid-19th century. Ireland is very vegetation-lush and consists of relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain primarily used as farmland with numerous navigable rivers extending inland. Its lush green gives Ireland the nickname of the “Emerald Isle”. Ireland’s eco-zone doesn’t have extremes in temperature. Its an insular mild climate with alot of rainfall. It is quite temperate annually. Up until the 1600′s – Ireland was covered with thick woodlands, but today is one of the most deforested areas in Europe. Ireland is home to over 26 mammals (such as the red deer, the irish hare, the pine marten) native to the Island, with others very common like the red fox, badger, and hedgehog. There are no snakes on Ireland (except philosophically)
This land mass was covered in ice until the last ice age about 9,000 years ago – when sea levels were lower and all of the United Kingdom’s current landmass was part of continental Europe rather than the independent islands they are today. Mesolithic stone age inhabitants show evidence around 8,000 BC after which Neolithic Age agriculture appeared from 4,500-4,000 BC with sheep, goat, cattle, and cereals in occurence. Ceide Fields has evidence under a blanket of peat of an extensive field system that is one of the oldest found in the world. By 3,500-3,000 BC – evidence of land division was found by means of small divisions separated by dry-stone walls and farming evidence of wheat and barley as the main crops. Ireland then saw a Bronze Age in 2,500 BC that changed daily life and technology in the region substantially bringing forth textiles, alcohol production, the wheel, domination over oxen, metalworking, weapons, tools, fine gold jewellery and crafts including brooches and torcs. Ireland became a substantial part of maritime trade in the Atlantic Bronze Age with Britain, Europe, France, Spain, and Portugal – as part of Celtic culture and blending in with the Celtic languages. The Celts brought in the Iron Age into Ireland who colonized the islands by a series of invasions between the 8th and 1st centuries BCE (Before Common Era). The Celtic invasion was followed by the Gaels, who were the last wave of Celts, that divided the islands into 5+ different kingdoms after conquer that today is seen more as a diffusion of culture rather than a military colonization.
Much of the early written history of Ireland comes from classical Greco-Roman geographers such as Ptolemy in his Almagest (referring to Eire as Mikra Brettania – Lesser Britain vs. Megale Brettania (Great Britain) as well as in “Geography” where Eire is referred to as Iwernia and G.B. as Albion all of which were believed to be the native names for the Islands at that time. The Romans later referred to Eire as Hibernia or Scotia. Eire’s relationship with the Roman Empire was never clearly defined even though numerous Roman coins have been found in Irish soil, especially at New Grange. Ptolemy recorded 16 tribes inhabiting Eire in 100 AD. Ireland remained a patchwork of rival tribes until the 7th c. (CE – Common Era) when the concept of a national kinship became articulated through the concept of a High King of Ireland. This is portrayed in Irish literature of the Medieval age greatly as a almost unbroken sequence of High Kings stretching back thousands of years even though the scheme is believed by modern scholars to be constructed in the 8th century to justify the status of powerful politic groups in its recent history. The High King was believed to preside over the patchwork of provincial kingdoms that formed Eire. Each of these kingdoms had their own kings but were at least nominally subject to the High King that was drawn from the ranks of the provincial kings in the seat at Meath and ceremonial capital on the Hill of Tara. Early Irish law was written in a judicial system called “Rehon Law” administered by a class of jurists known as brehons. In 431 CE, the Bishop Palladius arrived in Ireland on a mission by the Pope Celestine I to minister to the Irish “already believing in Christ” that also state details of Ireland’s patron saint Patrick in 432, according to the ‘Chronicle of Ireland’. Debates about the missions of Palladius and Patrick are abundant but consentially agree that they both took place and caused the collapse of the older indigenous Druidic traditions. From 432, Ireland saw a steadily escalated study of Latin, Greek, and Christian theology in its population known as the “Christianisation of Ireland”. Ireland was one of the key countries to preserve Latin and Greek learning up through the Dark Ages and the decline of the Roman Empire. Ireland became well known for manuscript illumination, metalworking, ornate jewellery, carved stone crosses, and sculpture – with one of the brightest pieces created known as the “Book of Kells”. By the 9th century, waves of Viking raiders plundered Ireland’s monasteries and towns leading to endemic warfare that was already seated firmly in Ireland at the time.
May 1st, 1169 – an expedition of Cambro-Norman knights with an army of 600, led by Richard de Clare aka “Strongbow” landed at Bannow Srand to introduce Norman expansion as invidted by Leinster’s King Dermot Mac Murrough when he fled to Anjou, France after a war with Tighearnan Ua Ruairc of Breifne in 1166 to seek assistance in recapturing his kingdom. 1171 Henry arrived in Ireland to review the progress of the expedition and to re-exert royal authority over the un-controlled expansion. He was successful over Strongbow and the Cambro-Norman warlords, with many Irish kings accepting him as their overloard through the 1175 Treaty of Windsor. He began Lord of Ireland and passed to his younger son John Lackland in 1185 the action of which defined the Irish state as the Lordship of Ireland. His successor died unexpectedly in 1199 when John inherited the crown of England while retaining Lordship of Ireland. The next century saw Norman fuedal law gradually replace the native Brehon laws in such a way that by the late 13th century the Norman-Irish had established a feudal system through much of Ireland. Baronies, Manors, Towns, and Seeds of the modern county system. By 1216 a version of the Magna Carta (The Great Charter of Ireland) substituted Dublin for London and the Irish Church for the Church of England was published and by 1297 Parliament in Ireland was founded. Mid-fourteenth century after the Black Death saw a decline of Norman settlements. There was much intermarriage between the Norman rulers and native Irish elites when Norman rule became Gaelicised and created a hybrid Hiberno-Norman culture. 1367 the Statutes of Kilkenny were passed by the Irish Parliament that set out to assimilate Normans into Irish society by requiring English subjects in Ireland to speak English, follow English customs, and abide by English law. In the 1500′s, Ireland saw a Norman invasion that gave way to English domination, even though a renewed Irish culture and language with Norman influences was dominant again. By the 1600′s, with the Tudor reconquest, following the Nine Years’ War and the Flight of the Earls – a system of Protestant English rule causing friction with the inheritantly Catholic and Pagan population. Numerous wars and conflicts surfaced, including the notable Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Williamite War. Over 20,000 battlefield casualties and 16,000 enslaved in West Indies slavery were the result.
Seventeenth century religious struggles left a deep sectarian division in Ireland leading to religious allegiance that determined the perception in law of loyalty to the Irish King and parliament. The ‘Test Act’ of 1673 saw victory of forces od the dual monarchy of William and Mary over the Jacobites, Roman Catholics and nonconforming Protestant Dissenters were barred from sitting as members of the Irish Parliament. Penal Laws emerged that increasingly deprived recusant Irish Roman Catholics and Dissenters various and sundry civil rights even upwards tothe ownership of hereditary property. More regressive punitive legislation was enacted in 1703, 1709, and 1728 causing great rifts between the Protestants and Catholics. The new Anglo-Irish ruling class became known as the Protestant Ascendancy. 1740 saw adverse adnormal weather conditions that mixed with the arrival of a deadly potato mould from North America caused crop failures of the ubiquitous potato crops that resulted in the notorious “Potato Famine”. Ireland lost an estimated 250,000 (1/8th of the population) dead to ensuing pestilence and disease. Ireland then saw an increase in industrial production and a surge in trade from a succession of construction booms. The British still retained the right to nominate the government of Ireland about the consent of the Irish parliament. 1798, several members of the ‘Protestant Dissenter tradition’ (mainly Presbyterian) made common cause with Roman Catholics in a Republic Rebellion inspired and led by the society of United Irishment with the aim of creating an independent Ireland. Despite assistance from France – the rebellion was squashed by British and Irish Governmental forces. 1800, the British and irish parliaments passed the “Act of Union” that proposed the union of the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1801, as the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” – Ireland became a part of the United Kingdom – but saw a war of independence break out in the early 20th century that led to the partition of the island, creating the Irish Free State that has become increasingly sovereign over the last decades. Northern Ireland remained a part of the UK seeing much civil unrest from the late 60′s through the 90′s. A political agreement was made in 1998 when both parts of Ireland joined the European Community. The Great Famine of the 1840s caused the deaths of over a million Irish and causing a massive emigration of another million plus to escape it. By end of the decade, half of all immigration to the United States was from Ireland and became deeply entrenched causing population declines up through the mid 20th century. Ireland has never been able to regain its population growth since.
19th-20th century saw rise of modern Irish nationalism especially amongst the Roman Catholic population. During this time, Daniel O’Connell who was blocked by the laws from taking a seat on parliament due to him being a Roman Catholic saw to him spearheading a vigorous campaign taken up by the Prime Minister the Duke of Wllington to re-steer the Act that caused a signing of a bill into law to embrace this and it finally looked like it would succeed by 1914. To prevent this from happening, Ulster Volunteers were formed under the leadership of Lord Carson that created the 1914 establishment of the “Irish Volunteers” whose goal was to ensure that the Home Rule Bill was passed. It was passed but included temporary exclusion of six counties of Ulster that would become Northern Ireland. Irish Volunteers split into two groups – the majority that numbered in over 175,000 under leadership of John Redmond who took on the name “National Volunteers” and supported Irish involvement in the war while a minority with over 13,000 retained the name “Irish Volunteers” and opposed Ireland’s involvement in the War. 1916′s Easter Rising began by the latter ground and British Response causing the execution of the Rising’s leaders one by one over seven weeks changing the national mood towards Home Rule. Sinn Fein, the pro-independence party, received overwhelming dendorsement in the General Election of 1918-1919 declaring its own parliament and government called “The Irish Republic”. The Brits tried to squash this challenge that led to a guerilla war from 1919-1921. 1921 saw a truce with the Anglo-Irish Treaty that was concluded between the British Government and the First Dáil (Assembly of Ireland) giving Ireland complete independence in their home affairs and practical independence for foreign policy in exchange for a oath of allegiance to the British Crown with Northern Ireland the right to form a home rule state within the new Irish Free State but holding an opt-out clause that they exercised immediately. This led to many disagreements over the provisions and a split in the nationalist movement and a subsequent civil war between the new Irish Free State Government and those opposed to the treaty led by Éamon de Valera that officially ended in May 1923. The newly-formed Irish Free State was then government by the victors of the civil war. With Valera’s power, he took advantage of the Statute of Westminster and built inroads to greater sovereignty made by the previous government. Oath was abolished by 1937 with a new constitution that was adopted and completing a process of gradual separation from the British Empire. 1949 saw the official declaration of the state to be known as the “Republic of Ireland”. Throughout World War II, The Republic of Ireland remained nuetral, but offered clandestine assistance to the Allies, particularly in the potential defense of Northern Ireland. Even with the nuetrality, there were links to German intelligence as both the Abwehr (German military intelligence service) and the SD (Sicherheitsdienst – intelligence service of the SS) had agents in Ireland. The September 1941 break of this Irish-German intelligence chain involved the southern Irish police arresting those involved on the basis of electronic surveillance that was being carried out on the key diplomatic legations in Ireland, including with that of the United States. The southern Irish saw the counterintelligence was nothing morre than mere luxury and a fundamental line of defense from German occupation. Large scale emigration was seen from the 1950′s to the 1980′s but by 1987 the economy saw an upturn known as the “Celtic Tiger” that made Ireland in 2000 to be the sixth richest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita. This caused social change varying from a modernization of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin to the decline in authority of the Catholic Church. The Republic then saw unprecedented growth from the mid-1990′s up until the Irish financial crisis of 2008-2010. GDP fell by 3% in 2008 and 7.1% in 2009.
Irish culture influences most of the world’s culture, especially by means of science, education, and literature. Ireland still holds on to its indigenous culture that is expressed through native sports, the Gaelic Irish language, that is mixed with Western culture’s contemporary music and drama, sports like football, rugby, and golf, as well as the English language. Ireland has three World Heritage sites on the Island – (1) the Brú na Boinne, (2) Skellig Michael, and (3) the Giant’s Causeway. Bunratty Castle, the Rock of Cashel, Brigit’s Well, Hills of Tara, the Cliffs of Moher, Holy Cross Abbey and Blarney Castle are highly visited sites. Dublin is the most heavily touristed region and home to the Book of Kells and the Guinness Storehouse.
Approaching The Mystical Islands of Eire: