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Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Description

As the English enforced strict (none of this, none of that) new laws on the Catholics, Protestant powers increased, and Ireland and its northern areas grew further apart, primarily for economic reasons.

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.

Following the so-called 'Easter Rising' in 1916, where patriotic nationalist leaders proclaiming an independent Irish Republic, were all shot (executed) at Kilmainham Gaol by the British, the Anglo-Irish War began.

In 1921 a Treaty was signed giving 26 counties independence as The Irish Free State and leaving 6 counties part of the United Kingdom. The Irish Free State remained part of the British Commonwealth until leaving as the Republic of Ireland in 1949.

Northern Ireland remained part of the UK with its own devolved local administration, and the two parts of Ireland went their separate ways peacefully enough until the late 1960s. At that point tensions between Nationalists in Northern Ireland seeking to join it to the Republic and Unionists determined to keep it part of the UK boiled over and for almost the next thirty years civil disorder reigned, leading to much destruction of life and property. Eventually, in 1998, a jointly managed Assembly was established and government returned on a power-sharing basis between representatives of both communities.

On Monday, March 26, 2007, another historic accord was reached in Northern Ireland. Reverend Ian Paisley, the Protestant leader, and Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein collectively announced that on May 8, 2007, these two hostile groups would form a joint administration, and after years of bloody hostility, finally work together. The British government hailed this as a major breakthrough.

A relative calm is now in place in Northern Ireland, and tourism is on the increase.

This is a beautiful land of cool, crisp air, and long-held traditions of family and friends. Dozens and dozens of small towns and villages cover the countryside, and the calming steeples of Northern Ireland's many churches still point to a promising future.

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.