Ireland Facts

Ireland Facts and History


Ireland – the green island

The Republic of Ireland is also called the green island and extends off the west coast of Britain.

Unlike Northern Ireland, the country has been independent from Great Britain since 1922 and a member of the EU (European Union) since 1973. Today the state is one of the wealthy and economically fast growing countries in Europe. That was not always so.

In the 1990s, unemployment in the country was still over 20% and in the 19th and early 20th centuries, many Irish had to leave the country – mostly to the USA.

The Irish population has been Catholic since they were Christianized by St. Patrick in the 5th century. The Irish all over the world celebrate this event every year on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.

On May 17, 2011 Queen Elizabeth II visited the country and its capital Dublin for four days as the first head of state of Great Britain after 100 years.

The last monarch to visit the country was George V (1865-1936) – at the time still the head of Ireland, whose wars of liberation began with the proclamation of independence on April 24, 1916 and ended with the end of the 800-year rule of Great Britain.

And on May 23, 2011, the American President Barack Obama and his wife visited the birthplace of his maternal great-great-great-grandfather – the 350-resident village of Moneygall, from which his ancestor emigrated to America in 1850 due to economic hardship.

Name of the country Ireland/Éire/Irela
Form of government Parliamentary-democratic republic
Head of state President (President of Ireland)
Geographical location Island in the Atlantic west of Great Britain
National anthem Amhrán na bhFiannEnglish: The Soldier’s Song
Population approx. 4.5 million (Credit: Countryaah: Ireland Population)
Ethnicities almost exclusively Irish
Religions approx. 87% Roman Catholic, 3% Anglican, 0.8% Muslim
Languages Irish and English
Capital Dublin
Surface 70,282 km²
Highest mountain Carrantuohill with a height of 1,041m
Longest river Shannon, with a length of 358 km
Largest lake The largest lake in the Republic of Ireland is Lough Corrib (200 km²)
International license plate IRL
National currency Euro
Time difference to CET – 1h
International phone code 00353
Mains voltage, frequency 230 volts, 50 hertz (There are so-called shaver sockets in Ireland.)
Internet Top Level Domain (TLD) .ie

Ireland: history

Before the year 1000

Around 500 to 400 BC The Celtic tribe of the Gael reached Ireland and established around 150 small kingdoms. In the 5th century, St. Patrick the residents of the island, after which numerous monasteries are formed. In the 8th and 9th centuries there were numerous Viking incursions. The Vikings established themselves on the east coast and founded settlements.

From the year 1000 to 1700

According to Abbreviationfinder website, in 1014 the Irish triumphed over the Vikings, putting an end to the Viking invasions. In 1066 the Normans took over power in England with William the Conqueror and captured large swaths of land in Ireland. From 1155 Normans were appointed feudal lords in Ireland by King Henry II of England. They founded monasteries and built cities. In 1172 Henry II was recognized as ruler of Ireland. The English gained power in Ireland in the 12th and early 13th centuries, but lost power in the early 14th century. In 1315 the brother of the Scottish king, Eduard Bruce, invaded Ireland. Norman rule in Ireland came to an end in the 15th century. The Irish national feeling strengthened.

In 1534 the English King Henry VIII extended his power to the island and in 1541 accepted the title of “King of Ireland”. The Irish were politically and religiously oppressed. This oppression increased under Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII. In 1598 the resistance fighter Hugh O’Neill defeated the English. But as early as 1603 the Irish had to submit to the English again, and English law was introduced on the island.

In 1608 Scottish and English Protestants settled in the last Gaelic resistance region. This is where the historical origins of the current Northern Irish civil war lay.

The English Lord Oliver Cromwell brutally put down the uprising of the Irish in 1649. In 1690 there was the battle on the River Boyne, in which two English kings faced each other. On the Irish side, James II fought against William of Orange, who won the battle. The English established themselves even more strongly on the island. From 1691, the English penal code excluded Irish Catholics from the right to land. English Protestants then took over large parts of the country and seized political power. Many Irish emigrated to America as a result. Stricter trade laws made Ireland one of the poorest countries in Europe.

In the 18th and 19th centuries

In 1782 England recognized an independent Irish parliament. However, only Protestants sat in parliament. They achieved a commercial and constitutional improvement for Ireland. In the course of the French Revolution, the “United Irishmen” under Theobald Wolfe Tone demanded the introduction of the Republic of Ireland. Tone was arrested by the English, committed suicide and went down in Irish history as a martyr. The Irish Parliament dissolved by itself in 1800 after bribes by the English. From 1801 the Irish had 100 members in the London Parliament instead of their own parliament. Many large landowners then left the island, triggering an economic crisis in Ireland. From 1803, secret societies were founded against the remaining large landowners. The mass movement which arose because of the Catholic Association founded in 1823, achieved the repeal of anti-Catholic laws. Catholics could now also move into parliament.

From 1845 to 1851 there was a great famine in Ireland, which claimed around 1 million victims and which further decimated the population after the onset of migration.

In the 20th and 21st centuries

Numerous independence movements against the British occupation were founded between 1858 and 1916.

Particularly noteworthy is the “Easter Rising” from 1916, which still plays a major role in the history of the country today. It began on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, and ended on April 29, 1916.

The British brutally suppressed the attempt at independence and executed 15 leaders of the freedom movement. A ship of the German Empire with weapons and ammunition had previously been brought up by the British, so that the freedom fighters were poorly equipped.

After the cruel execution of the leaders of the uprising, the mood in the population turned massively in favor of the independence movement.

In 1919 the Irish MPs founded their own parliament, proclaimed independence and established a government. By 1921 the Irish Republican Army (IRA) war of independence against the British. On December 6, 1921, Ireland became a Free State within Great Britain.

There was a bloody fight between the Free State opponents against the Irish government until 1923, in which over 4,000 people were killed.

In 1937 Ireland declared itself sovereign and democratic. A new constitution was adopted. Ireland remained neutral during World War II. In 1949 Ireland became a republic and left the Commonwealth. In the Ireland Act, the House of Commons in London decided in the same year that Northern Ireland should remain part of Great Britain. In 1955 Ireland became a member of the United Nations and in 1973 a member of the European Community. In 2002 the EURO became the official currency in the country.

On June 12, 2008, the Irish rejected the Lisbon Treaty with around 53% of the vote following a referendum. Ireland was the only country where it was decided by referendum. In the remaining 26 EU member states, the parliaments voted. But on October 2, 2009, 67.1% of Irish people voted “yes” on another vote – with a turnout of 58%.

On May 17, 2011 Queen Elizabeth II visited the country and its capital Dublin for four days as the first head of state of Great Britain after 100 years. The last monarch to visit the country was George V (1865-1936) – at that time still as head of Ireland, whose wars of liberation began with the proclamation of independence on April 24, 1916 and ended with the end of the 800-year rule of Great Britain.

Ireland Facts