When one looks at Ireland, one notices that the Northeast corner is not a part of Ireland. It is in fact part of the United Kingdom (as are England, Scotland, Wales and several islands). This separation has a long history going back to 1169 when Henry II of England became involved in a battle between two Irish tribal groups. After receiving some right to claim land, the English lightly settled the area around Dublin in an area known as The Pale. In 1541 Henry VIII proclaimed himself King of Ireland as the Irish were rather disorganized tribes at the time. Just into the 1600s Elizabeth I began settlement programs moving Scots and English into Ireland. The Catholic Irish could not be trusted during a time when catholic versus Protestant was the rule of battle in Europe. Much of this program displaced the Irish farm from his/her land.
The building of a sense of being Irish and Irish unity begins to build over the next century. This is a bitter period for the Irish as they are Britain's first colony. The Irish basically lose ownership of their own land to the English and Scots. They are subjected to hardships including the Potato famine in the 1840s which leads many to flee to England or the United States. One issue in this is that the British insist that the Irish become Protestant. In refusing to convert this takes on a religious tone of Protestant versus Catholic.
The Irish gain freedom for the currently Ireland part of the island in 1921 after a rising against the British. The British kept the Northeast part known as Ulster because they had settle an English and Scot majority in that area over the years, and had major investments in industries around Belfast.
Attempts to get a revolt going in the late 1950s fail, but a civil rights movement organizes in the North in 1969. The Catholic Irish in the North are subject to discrimination as groups are/were in the United States and other places. They push for rights, but this breaks down into a several decade struggle involving significant acts of terrorism from both sides and many injuries and deaths. Starting in 1995 and 1998 peace agreements have brought basic peace to Northern Ireland, but it remains a part of the United Kingdom. Given the Protestant (English, Scot) majority, it is likely to remain for years to come.
A Very Select Bibliography
Aalen, F. H. A. 1978. Man and the Landscape in Ireland. London, England, UK: Academic Press. A discussion of Irish history.
Bailly, Derek. 1990. Frontiers. The Footsteps of Man. Videotape. London, England, UK
Baol. F. W. 1980. Two nations in Ireland. Antipode 11: 38- 40.
Munn, Brain. 1989. A History of Ireland. PBS Video Series. Washington. DC: Public Broadcasting Service.
Police History. 2002. Map: Ireland. Internet. www.policehistory.utvinternet.com