A Celtic Primer

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Follow the historical fortunes of the Irish people from a Celtic clan to an independent republic.

Fourth century, B.C.: The Celts arrive from Gaul or Galicia. They conquer and absorb the native Picts and Erainns, forming the Gaelic civilization. They evolve into clans that pledge allegiance to any one of five regional kings.

432 A.D.: St. Patrick introduces Christianity. Ireland soon becomes a center of Christian scholarship.

795: The Norse begin invasions along the coast. They are finally defeated in 1014 at the Battle of Clontarf by forces led by Brian Boru, high king of Ireland.

12th century: The pope awards all of Ireland to the English crown as a papal fiefdom.

1171: Henry II invades Ireland. Nearly a century of conflict is the result, as the nation is divided into English shires, the estates of feudal magnates who swear allegiance to the English and independent Irish kingdoms.

1315: Edward Bruce of Scotland invades Ireland and is joined by a number of Irish kings. The English presence in Ireland weakens, restricting itself to a small area around Dublin dubbed the Pale.

1495: Fearing the Irish-supported pretender to the English throne, Lambert Simnel, Henry VII sends Sir Edward Poynings to Ireland to force the passage of a law making all legislation passed by the Irish Parliament subject to the approval of the English Privy Council.

1537: Fearing Catholic resentment over the English Reformation, Henry VIII establishes the Protestant Church of Ireland. The vast majority of the Irish remain Roman Catholic. This adds fuel to the fire of Irish resentment. Over the next 300 years, the Irish stage a series of unsuccessful rebellions.

1801: The Act of Union consolidates England and Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

1846 to 1848: An economic downswing is followed by the infamous Great Potato Famine. The population drops from 8.5 million in 1845 to 6.55 million in 1851.

1870s: Irish representatives i the British Parliament attempt to achieve home rule within the Union.

1914: A home rule bill is passed, but due to World War I, it is never enacted.

1916: Incensed Irish nationalists attempt to cast off British rule in what is soon to be known as the Easter Rebellion.

1918: Irish members of Britain's parliament refuse to take their seats. They establish the Dail Eireann (Irish Assembly) and proclaim an Irish Rebublic. The British outlaw the Dail and guerrilla warfare ensues.

1922: The Irish Free State is established, with six counties in the north remaining as part of the United Kingdom.

1937: A new constitution ends British sovereignty.

1949: The Republic of Ireland is proclaimed on April 18. It soon withdraws from the Commonwealth.

1960s: The efforts of the outlawed Irish Republican Army mount as they seek to bring Northern Ireland into the Republic. The battle over Nothern Ireland continues to this day.


Written by Steven Shaklan
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