Northern Ireland: History

The Troubles

Figure 1.--This press photo illustrates what is called 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland. It is not dated, but was probably taken in the late-1960s and early-70s. Batricades like this were established to separate the Catholic and Protestant sections of Belfast. Notice the the British soldier's rifle with a fixed bayonet and the little boy with his toy cowboy rifle.

The history of Northern Ireland, often referred to as Ulster, until the Ulster Plantations (17th century) is essentilly the same as the overall history of Ireland. Northen Ireland as a separate entity is a very recent constituent part of the United Kingdom. For most of its history it was just one part of Ireland, the northern counties. The Ulster Plantation introduced Protestantism to Northern Ireland which was the basis for a feeling of sepsrteness from Catholic southern Ireland. Beginning with the Easter Rebellion, the Irish began fighting for their independence (1916). The Catholic Church was an important part of the Irish struggle for independence. The Irish Free State left the United Kingdom in 1922, but the six northern counties of Ulster with Protesant majorities voted to remain with Britain. Northern Ireland is not the same as Ulster. Ulster comprises nine counties, of which six (Antrim, Armagh, (London)Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone) became Northen Ireland at Partition. The other three (Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan) are part of the Republic. The religious difference was the result of the Plantation of Ulster. This was the colonisation effort in northern Ireland launched during the reign of James I (early-17th century). English and Scottish Protestants were settled on land confiscated from Catholic Irish landowners.

Irish History

The history of Northern Ireland, often referred to as Ulster, until the Ulster Plantations (17th century) is essentilly the same as the overall history of Ireland. Northen Ireland as a separate entity is a very recent constituent part of the United Kingdom. For most of its history it was just one part of Ireland, the northern counties. The Ulster Plantation introduced Protestantism to Northern Ireland which was the basis for a feeling of sepsrteness from Catholic southern Ireland.

England and Ireland (12th-20th centuries)

The 20th century Troubles in Ulster were rooted in the centuries old effort of England to control Ireland. The conflict assumed religious overtones after the Protestan Revolution in England with the Irish peasantry stradfastly clining to the Catholic Church. Supression of the Irish and Catholic Church varied in entensity over time. Cromwell ruthlessly supressed Irish attempts at independence. James II did not have the caution of his father. He attempt to restablish the Catholic Church in England. Without a Catholic heir, however, most English were willing to await the natural course of events. The birth of a Catholic heir radically upset the situation. English piers invite William of Orange, a Protestant prince from the Netherlands married to James' protestant daughter Mary. The result was the Glorious Revolution. William quickly deposes James who is forced to flee. James makes his last stand in Ireland with Catholic loyalists. This was the last real Irish resistance to English rule occurred with the defeat of James II at the Battle of the Boyne (1692). The Protestants who fought under William against James became known as Orangemen. The Boyne was the last major Irish effort at independence until the Easter Rebellion (1916). The English through a series of anti-Catholic law disenfrangized the Irish and sized the land, making the Irish poverty-striken land-less tenants in their own country. Most Irish subsisted on small plots where they grew potatos. The English were firmly in control of England in the 19th century. The horrendous English response to the Potato Famine (1845-50), however, probably meant that Ireland could not continue to be part of Britain. Largely constitutional efforts aimed at gaining Home Rule were persued in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Independence Struggle (1919-22)

Although the Easter Rebellion (1916) was quikly put down by the British, the Rising had a profound impact on Irish public opinion. Undoubtedly the losses on the Western Front were another factor. The execution of the rebellion leaders significantly affected Irish opinion. A vicious civil war occurred in Ireland after World War. By the end of the War, an increasing number of Irish people wanted to break their ties with Britain. Irish resistance was centered in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which assasinated British officials, British landlords, and their Irish supporters. One IRA leader not executed after the Easter Rebellion was Daniel O'Conner. He was arrested, but the British did not realize who he was. After he was released, he played a central role in organizing the IRA terror campaign against the English and their Irish supporters. The English response was the Black and Tans. The IRA was made into an effective group in large measure through the leadership of Michael Collins. Eventually the British offered the Irish all but the six counties of northern Ireland--Ulster.

Irish Free State

The Government of Ireland Act sets up two parliaments, one in Dublin and one in Belfast. This created the Irish Free State, ruled by the Dublin parliament, but nominally still under the British crown. It also left Northern Ireland part of the UK. Violence escalates as Catholics oppose partition.

Civil War (1922-26)

Collins eventually accepted the British offer knowing it was the best he could get at the time. The result in the creation of the Irish Free State which eventually became the Irish Republic. There is considerable Catholic opposition to partition in both the Irish Free State and Ulster. An IRA faction opposing an end to the armed struggle without gaining Ulster assasinated Collins. O'Conner was assainated by IRA desidents because he compromised on the Ulster Question. The provisional Irish Government eventually supresses the IRA violence. More than 1,000 IRA supporters were arrested asnd inprisoned without trial.

Ulster

The majority Protestant province of Ulster or Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingsom. The British insisted on boundary lines that insured a strong Protestant majority. The Ulster Government was partially self-governing and from the beginning treated Cathlolics as second-class citizens. The Protestants became known as Unionists, meaning they wanted to retain ties with Britain. The Catholics became known as Nationlists meaning they wanted union with the rest of Ireland. Ulster was an unstble creation. About 70 percent of Ulster were Protestants, but the 30 percent Catholic minority had no real loyalty to the state and wanted to join the Irish Free State.

World War II

Ireland was neutral during World War II. It was still technically a member of the British Empire. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) fought a vicious guerilla war against the British (early 1920s). The campaign was led by Michael Collins who was later assinated when he negotiated a settlement with Britain. Eamon de Valera who opposed the settklement became president of the Irish Free State. At the time that war broke out, the Irish Free State was moving toward independemce. There was considerable bitterness about continued British control of Ulster--the primary reason for Collin's assasination. The IRA conducted a bombing campaign in London (Summer 1939). The Irish government denied responsibility for IRA actions. With the outbreak of war (September 1939), there was no desire to join with Britain to fight the NAZIs. There was great anti-British sentiment combined with the memories of losses during the last war. There was even some sentiment for the Germans, primarily a artifact of the anti-British feeling. The Irish government ignored reports of German attrocities. The Chamberlain Government considered offering Ireland Ulster and unification if Ireland joined the Allies. Ulster protestants were outraged. President Eamon de Valera at any rate rejected the offer. At the very end of the War de Valera sent condolences to the Germany government upon Hitler's death.

The Troubles in Ulster

Since World War II most violent conflicts have occurred in the Third World. An exception to this was the conflict between Catholics and Protestants. The conflict has been described as the last religious war in Europe. It also has the halmarks of the tribal conflicts of Africa. The conflict is rooted in the centuries old effort of England to control Ireland. A vicious independence struggle and civil war occurred in Ireland after World War, resulting in the creation of the Irish Free State which eventually became the Irish Republic. The majority Protestant province of Ulster or Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingsom. The Ulster Government treated Cathlolics as second-class citizens. A civil rights movement began in the 1960s, but unlike the American Civil Rights movement, the conflict in Ireland led by the Orish Republican Army turned violent, resulting in three decades of killings and reprisals. The British attempted to prevent the violence, but soon became seen as favoring the Protestants by most Catholics. The Irish seemed to have turned the corner on this and a peace process seems to have ended the violence, although there is still considerable ill will between the two communities.








CIH






Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[The 1880s] [The 1890s]
[The 1900s] [The 1910s] [The 1920s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1950s]
[The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s]



Related Style Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Long pants suits] [Knicker suits] [Short pants suits] [Socks] [Eton suits] [Jacket and trousers]
[Blazer] [School sandals] [School smocks] [Sailor suits] [Pinafores] [Long stockings]



Navigate the Children in History Web Page
[Return to the Main Ulster page]
[Return to the Main United Kingdom page]
[Return to the Main European history page]
[Return to the Main European page]
[Introduction] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Climatology] [Clothing] [Disease and Health] [Economics] [Geography] [History] [Human Nature] [Law]
[Nationalism] [Presidents] [Religion] [Royalty] [Science] [Social Class] [Royalty]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]





Created: 2:02 AM 9/17/2011
Last updated: 2:02 AM 9/17/2011