History of Ireland – Pre-historic to Modern Day

History of Ireland – From the very earliest settlements to the modern trials and tribulations, the small island of Ireland has had its fair share of turbulent happenings. Travel in Ireland provides you with an in-depth look at Irelands fascinating past…

History of Ireland

Part I : Ireland Under Native Rulers

IN the beginning of this Part the narrative is legendary, like the early accounts of all other nations. This period includes the Danish invasions, which never broke the continuity of the monarchy in Ireland as they did in England. It ended about 1172, for after there was no longer a supreme native king over Ireland.


Brian Boru the son of Kennedy, of the Dalgas race (157) was born in Kincora in 941. In 964 his brother Mahon became king of all Munster. At this time the Danes held the chief fortresses of the province, including Limerick, Cork, and Waterford. From which their marauding parties swept continually over the country, murdering and destroying.


Lewy the son of Laeghaire was too young at the time of his father’s death to claim the throne, which was seize by Olioll Molt king of Connaught, son of Dathi, A.D. 463. But Lewy when he came of age raised a great army and defeated and slew king Olioll in the terrible battle of Ocha in Meath and took possession of the throne. This battle, which was fought in 483, was a sort of revolution. Olioll Molt did not belong to the Hy Neill. Lewy was of the Southern Hy Neill; and from tills date, for 500 years without a break, the Hy ^eill held tlic throne of Ireland.


During the century and a half from the death of Malachi II to the Anglo-Norman invasion, Ireland had no universally acknowledged over-king. To every one there was opposition from some influential quarter or another; which the annalists indicate by the epithet, king with opposition \ commonly applied to the kings who during this time aspired to the sovereignty.


The spread of the faith suffered no check by the death of St. Patrick; for churches, monasteries, and convents. Continued to be found all over the country the founders of monasteries in Ireland may be said to have been of two classes. Those of the one class settled in the inhabited districts, and took on themselves functions of education and religious minis- tration. Those of the other class gave themselves up to a life of prayer and contemplation; and these took up their abode in remote islands or mountain valleys, places generally hard to reach, and often almost, in- accessible.


It is commonly supposed that the druidic religion prevailed in pagan Ireland; but we know very little of the nature and ceremonials of this Irish druidism. In the oldest Irish traditions the druids figure con- spicuously. All the early colonists had their druids, who are mentioned as holding high rank among kings and chiefs. They are often called men of science to indicate their superior knowledge. Many worshipped idols of some kind: some worshipped water; some, fire; some, the sun.


Since the battle of Gleninama, the Danes had kept quiet because the kings strong hand held them down. .Rut it was a forced submission; and they only waited for an opportunity to attempt the overthrow of King Brian. The confederacy that led to the battle of Clontarf was originated, however, not by the Danes, but by Mailmora king of Leinster.


Towards the close of the eighth century the Danes began to make descents on the coasts of Europe. They came from Norway, Sweden, Jutland, and in general from the islands and coasts of the Baltic. They deemed piracy the noblest career that a duel could engage in; and they sent forth swarms of daring and desperate marauders, who for two centuries kept the whole of Western Europe in a state of continual terror.


The brothers Eber-Finn and Eremon had no sooner settled down in their new kingdoms than they quarrelled and fought a battle (A.M. 3501), in which Eber was defeated and slain, and Eremon became sole king. By far the greater number of the Irish Pagan kings after Eremon fell in battle or by assassination : a few only of the most distinguished need be noticed here.


Resides some fables about the landing of the lady Ccasair [Kasserj and her people forty days before the flood, our manuscripts have legends of five ancient colonies. The Parthalonians: the first colony, 2520 BC. The first man that led a colony to Ireland after the flood was a chief named Parthalon, who came hither from Greece, with his wife, his three sons, and 1,000 followers. He took up his abode first on the little island of Inish-Samer in the river Erne just below the waterfall of Assaroe at Ballyshannon; and afterwards on Moy-Elta, the level district between Dublin and Ben Edar or Howth. At the end of 300 years the people of this colony were destroyed by a plague, which carried off 9,000 of them in one week on Moy-Elta.

Part II : The Period of Invasion (1172 – 1547)

THE Anglo-Norman Invasion, beginning with the expedition of Fitzstephen and Prendergast, and ending with the reign of Henry VIII, the first English monarch who assumed the title of king of Ireland. The conquest of Ireland might have been accomplished in a few years, if only proper measures had been adopted. The force employed in the first instance was wholly insufficient for conquest. The king did not reside in Dublin; and there was no adequate representative of royalty with state and power to overawe the whole people both native and colonial.

The great Anglo-Norman lords had too much power in their hands, and for their own selfish ends kept the country in a state of perpetual warfare. Great tracts of land belonged to absentees living in England, who merely drew their rents and did nothing for the country. But the most fatal and disastrous mistake of all was this.

The native Irish, sick of anarchy, would have welcomed any strong government able and willing to maintain peace and protect them from violence. But the government, instead of treating them as subjects to be cared for, and placing them under the law that ruled the colonists, looked upon them as enemies, and refused them the protection of English law. Henry II did not conquer Ireland : it would have been better for both nations if he had. It took more than four centuries to do that – probably the longest conquest agony recorded in history.

Part III : The Period of Plantations (1547-1695)

THERE were four great rebellions during this period the rebellion of Shane ONeill; the Geraldine rebellion; the rebellion of Hugh ONeill; and the rebellion of 1641; besides many smaller risings. And after a these came the War of the Revolution (625). The invariable course of events may be briefly summed up as : Rebellion, Defeat, Confiscation, Plantation. The Plantations began immediately after the confiscation of Laois and Offaly and continued, without a break during the whole of this period, for a century and a half.

CROMWELL (1649-1652)

In England the parliament had triumphed. The death of the king caused somewhat of a counter-move- ment in Ireland; and the royalist cause was now- 1649-sustained by the confederates, with Ormond the lord lieutenant, and Inchiqmn-now again turned royalist-at their head, and by the Scots of Ulster. 1 hey proclaimed the prince of Wales king as diaries II; and they were well pleased when, in February 1649 Prince Rupert on their side entered the harbour of Kin- sale with sixteen frigates.


Hugh ONeill, the subject of our present sketch, was the son of Matthew, baron of Dungannon. He was born about 1545, and succeeded as baron of Dun- gannon on the death of his elder brother. He was educated among the English, and began his military life in the queen\s service as commander of a troop of horse.


Sir John Perrott was lord deputy from 1584 to 1588. He treated the Irish with some consideration, much against the wishes of his Dublin council, many of whom were his bitter enemies. Yet his action was not always straight, as the following narrative will show.

JAMES THE SECOND (1685-1688)

In 1685 fames II succeeded his brother as king of England. He was a Roman Catholic, and his accession gave great joy to the Catholics of Ireland, and corresponding alarm to the Protestants. He soon entered on the dangerous task of gradually restoring tlie Catholic religion in both countries. Colonel Talbot (619;, a strict Catholic, of a disposition over-zealous ind imprudent, was sent to Ireland as commander of :he forces, and was created earl of Tirconnell. As a sort of set-off, the king appointed his own brother-in- law, lord Clarendon, who was a Protestant, lord lieu- tenant, in place of Ormond.


The person chosen by the queen to succeed Essex as deputy was Charles Blount. Better known as Lord Mountjoy, a man of great ability and foresight, and a more formidable adversary than any yet met by O’Neill. He came to Ireland in February, 1600. As soon as O\Neill heard of his arrival he broke up his camp at Inniscarra, where he had tarried for six weeks, and returned to Ulster.


If there had been no additional influences after the reign of Henry VIII, it is probable that Ireland would have been no serious. But now two new elements of dispute are introducing for the government. Entering with the task of forcing the Irish people to become Protestants and at the same time they began to plant various parts of the country with colonies of settlers from England and Scotland, for the natives to expelled.


At the time of the Restoration the population of Ireland was about- 1,100,000: of whom 800,000 were Roman Catholics-including the old English who were nearly all Catholics ; 200,000 Nonconformist Protestants, or Puritans, and 100,000 episcopal Protestants, belong- ing to the Established Church. The new Cromwellian settlers were almost all Puritans. Both sections of Protestants were alike hostile to the Roman Catholics. During the parliamentary sway the Nonconformists had the upper hand, and the Established Church was repress. While still stronger measures, as we have seen (603), were taking against the Roman Catholics.


Oliver Cromwell died in 1658 and was succeeded by his son Richard as lord protector. In England, there was an obvious growing desire to restore the monarchy. In Ireland, the two most powerful parliamentarians, Sir Charles Coote in Ulster, and Roger Boyle, lord Broghill, in Munster, son of the great earl of Cork, skilfully observing the signs of the times, turned round and declared for Charles II.


On the access of Edward VI in 1547, Sent leger was continuous as deputy. As there were some serious disturbances in Leinster, Edward Bellingham, an able and active officer, was send over in May this year as military commander. Bringing a small force of 600 horse and 400 foot.

THE GRACES  (1625-1641)

In the midst of all this inquietude king James I died in 1625. And was a success by his son Charles 1 tills king was in perpetual straits for money and the Catholics hoped that by granting him subsidies. The Protestants also had their troubles, for many of them as well as the Catholics were threatened with the loss of their estates through the knaveries of the discoverers.

Accordingly the Irish gentry, Catholic and Protestant, encouraged by Falkland, offered to pay 120,000 pounds in instalments to the king. Who agree to grant certain concessions or graces as they were called.

Part IV : The Period of the Penal Laws (1695-1829)

BEFORE the year 1695 there were many penal enactments against Irish Catholics, but they were intermittent and not persistently carried out. But after that date they were, for nearly a century, systematic and continuous, and as far as possible enforced. Accordingly, this Period is especially distinguished as the Period of the Penal Laws. Catholics saved many of the settlers from destruction. Numberless instances are recording where Catholics were protecting from the operation by the laws by the pitying kindness of their Protestant neighbors. In many instances, the laws could not be carried out. Partly on account of their excessive severity, and partly from the passive resistance of the general body of Protestants.

Part V : The Modern Era

The occurrence of the recent past have shaped, moulded and sometimes blown Ireland and her people into the country she is today. From the 1830’s to the 1920’s, the actions taken then by the most influential people of the day are still felt now.

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