After more than seven centuries of Anglo-Irish struggle, marked by fierce rebellions and harsh repressions, Ireland and Britain were on paper (politically united) in 1800 by the Act of Union, however, countrywide unrest was still on the front burner. Adding more misery to that smoldering fire, the Great Famine of the mid-1800's served up starvation and death, and mass emigration followed, especially to the United States.
The Home Rule movement of the late-1800's would be the catalyst for the separation of Northern Ireland from Ireland, because the southern Catholics desired total independence from the British, while northern Protestants feared rule by the Catholic majority.
On Easter Sunday, 1916, a group of approximately 2,500 Irish patriots, brave souls all, stood up to the English to form the Irish Republic. On Easter Monday, one of the leaders, Patrick Pearse, stood on the post office steps and read the 'Proclamation of the Republic.'
A few days later, following this so-called 'Easter Rising,' the 14 nationalist leaders that supported an independent Irish Republic were all court-martialed, then brutally shot (executed) at Dublin's Kilmainham Gaol (prison) by the British. Pictures of the prison and the execution site are here.
Those heroic men inspired the Irish population, and the Anglo-Irish War began. When that guerrilla warfare ended in 1921, a treaty was signed giving (26) Irish counties independence and permitted (6) Protestant counties (in Ulster) to fend for themselves. This act divided Ireland into two political entities, each with some powers of self-government. Though rejected by the Catholics, it was put into place, and thus the modern day geographic and political separations of Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland gained its independence from Britain in 1948; Northern Ireland, though independent in many ways, remains (today) under British governmental control. Ireland joined the United Nations in 1957, the European Economic Community (EU) in 1973, and began the process of modernizing its rural based economy.
In 1991, the economy exploded and Mary Robinson was elected the first female President of the Republic. International investment poured in, electronic firms built factories and the long-suffering job market improved.
Since joining the EU, Ireland's economy and employment numbers have fluctuated up and down, mostly down. Some blame the Euro's impact on the working class, while others take a wait-and-see attitude as the EU moves aggressively into the future.
In this country of infectious, get-up-and-dance music, warm pubs on most every corner, and friendly, outgoing people, the survival of the Republic of Ireland is a foregone conclusion.
There's a rich mixture of ancestry, culture and tradition in this land of the green (home of Saint Patrick and the Shamrock), and all visitors are welcome.
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