Sunday, February 9, 2014


Ireland is an island in the Atlantic Ocean.  It sits west of Great Britain, separated by the Irish Sea and North Channel.  After Great Britain and Iceland, it is the third-largest island in Europe and the 20th largest in the world.

When looking at Ireland, things can get very complicated quite quickly.  So here's some info on the island of Ireland.

Ireland is divided up in to four provinces.  They are Ulster, Connacht, Leinster and Munster. 

These four provinces are divided up in to 32 counties.

Politically, Ireland is divided in to two countries.  26 of the counties make up the Republic of Ireland and six of the Ulster counties make up Northern Ireland.  Northern Ireland is one of the four countries which makes up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

So how did this all come about?  

Celtic tribes come to Ireland between 600 and 150 B.C.  St. Patrick brought Christianity in 432 A.D.  Then came the Vikings.

In the 12the century the Normans invaded and England claimed Ireland which began more than 700 years of Anglo-Irish difficulties.  

During the 16th-17th century Tudor conquest, northern Ireland was colonized by Protestants from Scotland and England.  Then in 1801, the Act of Union created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

The great potato famine lasted from 1846 to 1848.  Millions of people died and more than 2 million people immigrated to the USA.  By the end of the 1840s, half of all immigrants to the USA came from Ireland.   

The 1916 Easter Monday Rebellion failed but it kicked off several years of fighting and in 1921, the 26 southern counties became independent from the UK.  Then came the Irish Civil War which ended in 1923.  In 1949, the southern counties officially became the Republic of Ireland.

Here's a great little video I found out on YouTube which gives a pretty quick and comprehensive history of Ireland in only six minutes.

© John D. Ruddy

Ireland, the island, is home to about 6.4 million people.  About 4.6 million live in the Republic of Ireland and roughly 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.

I've been wanting to visit Ireland for a couple of years now but I just haven't had the chance.  The first book I downloaded on my Kindle was Tony Hawks' Round Ireland with a Fridge.  The book was quite clever and while I'm not planning to hitchhike around the Ireland any time soon, I will finally enjoy a couple of days in Dublin next month.  

They since turned the book in to a movie.  Here's the preview.  The entire film is actually available on YouTube if you search for it. 


Update 2022:  Here's a short video about the split between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

©History Matters

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