We have begun to acquire some informtion on boys' activities in Ireland. School is the major activity for modern children. Irish school uniforms in the first half of the 20th century were as far as we can tell, indistinguishable from English school uniforms. We do not know of significant differences. This is understandable because until the 1920s, Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom. Even after the Republic in the southern counnties achieved independence, little or no change was made in school uniform. Religion is another important activity and has played an especially important role in Irish history. And of course there are imprtant activities roles for boys in the Church. We notice some Irish choirs although Choral music seems pronounced than in England. We notice some bands. One of the best known is the Artane Boys Band in Dublin. We also note Irish step dancing. And we have some information on holidays in Ireland. Many are comparable to holidays in other European countries, but there are several destinctive Irish holidays as well. The best know is St. Patrick's Day. We do not have much information on sports, but the most popular sport as in most of Europe is footbll (soccer). Another activity are the various youth groups, especially the Scouts.
We notice some Irish choirs although Choral music seems pronounced than in England. Many countries of Western and Central Europe have a long tradition of church boys' choirs dating back to the midevil era. One of the longest traditions is that of the English boy choirs. Ireland since the 16th century was part of the British realm. Indededence was not gained until the 1920s and of course did not include the four counties of northern Ireland. This long association with England had a profound impact on Ireland. The Anglian church was established and the English attempted to end the Catholic Church's almost mistical hold on the Irish people, denying Catlolics many privliges and imposing many burdens upon them.
We also have little information on dance in Ireland. The Irish of course are best known for step dancing. Here we do have some informtion. Considerable interest has focused on Irish step dancing in the late-20th century in part because of River Dance. Step dancing evolved from Irish folk culture. The Feis was also an Irish folk institution. As a result of the Irish diaspora after the Potato Famine spread Irish culture around the world. The rules for Irish dance and many of the teachers came from Ireland. An Coimis�n or the Irish Dancing Commission is located in Ireland. Because of the large American Irish community, there arebprobably more Irush dancers in America than Ireland.
And we have some information on holidays in Ireland. Many are comparable to holidays in other European countries, but there are several destinctive Irish holidays as well. There are nine public holidays observed in Ireland. This includes both secular and religious holidays. Ireland is strongly Catholic. As in Britain, Ireland refers to public holidays as bank holidays. This is because the banks and governmnt offices and schools as well as many business close for the day. Public transport often operates on reduced schedules. Unlike most European countries, there is no holidays honoring World War I and World War II sacrifices. The Irish supported Britain in World War I and suffered grevious losses like other beligerant countries. The modern Irish state does not honor their fallen. Ireland played no part in the defeat of the NAZIs. Ireland was neutral in World War II and even refused to open bases to the British Royal Navy to fight the U-boat threat. The Government even set a congratulartory telegram to Hitler on his Birthdays. The best know is St. Patrick's Day which is not just celebrated in Irekand, but all the countries of the Irish dispora. Hopefully our Irish readers will send information about their holiday celebratons.
We have very little informaton Irish music. We notice some bands. One of the best known is the Artane Boys Band in Dublin.
Religion is another important activity and has played an especially important role in Irish history. This has meant primarily the Roman Catholic Church. Some 85 percent of the population is Catholic. Most Irish churches are despite the political division organised on an all-Ireland basis which includes both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the south. We have little infirmtion before the advent of the Celts. The ancient Irish were pagan polytheistic, worshipping gods and goddesses of Celtic origin. Christianity came to Ireland from Roman Britain. St. Patrick was a major force is Chritinizing the Irish, but not the only missionary involved. The Celtic Irish largely cut off from wider European developments, eveloped their own destinctive religion. They played a role in Chrianizing the Anglo-Saxons who inbaded Britin, especially in the north, but it was Roman Catholocism that evetually prevailed, although with a continuing influence of the Catltic Church. The Anglo-Norman invasion enforced greater conformity within the Irish church to Catholic standards. The later Ellizabethan invasion and adoption of Protestantism by Ireland's nobility brought the Reformation to Ireland. Presbyterian and Anglican settlers established a Protestant tradition, leading to centuries of conflict with Irish Catholics. It was the common people who never falted in their faith who unlike Scotland and Wales who help keep Ireland a Catholic country. And of course there are imprtant activities roles for boys in the Church. This incluses chorieters, altars boys, and first communions. Christianity is historically the most imporant religion in Ireland and continues to be so.
School is the major activity for modern children. We do not yet have extensive historical information on Irish schools. And we have ngun to and some information in earlier peripds back to the medieval era. Oreland swas a rare poibr of light during the Dark Ages. Much of our informaruin is still limited to the 20th century. The education system given the vountry's long assoiciation with England is somewhat similar to England. England controlled Ireland for several centuries. Much od this was not positove. For a rime Englsnd even banned Catolic eduication, since both of the populsation was Irish, this effectively was a ban on reducstion. As a resultg the Hedge Scghools come into neing. Britain lagged behind Anmerica and many Euroopen countries in creating a free public school system. This included Ireland. Ireland began moving toward independence (1920s). As a result, as an Irish reader tells us, " Ireland now has its own variations and vagaries. Our school system now differs quite a bit from the U.K. school system." Irishschool uniforms in the first half of the 20th century were as far as we can tell, indistinguishable from English school uniforms. We do not know of significant differences. This is understandable because until the 1920s, Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom. Even after the Republic in the southern counnties achieved independence, little or no change was made in school uniform. Unifoirmgs were not woirn at the state primaries. And tge secondart system was poorly develooed. nother issue in Ireland has been finances. Ireland was the poorest part of the United Kingdom and this of course affects the ability to finance the education system. The country's economy improved very little after independence, largely because of the socialist policies adopted by the Government. Market reforms have since result in substantial econoimic growth (1990s). Itrerland became known as ther Celtic Tiger. This significantly improving the Government's ability to finance a quallity education system. Irish school uniforms in the first half of the 20th century were as far as we can tell, indistinguishable from English school uniforms. We know of know significant dirrerence. This is again understandable because until the 1920s, Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom. Even after the southern counnties achieved independence, Ireland retained close economic and cultural relations with Brirain. Perhaps the major change in recent years has been the economic success of Ireland after joining the European Union and instituting market reforms. This has geberated the money for families to achieve better results and for the Goverment to better find public schools.
Sports in Ireland are basically similar to British sports. Until after World War I, Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland still is. Popular sports played in Ireland include association football (soccer), basketball, boxing, cricket, Gaelic games (including Gaelic football, hurling and camogie), golf, handball, hockey, rowing, tennis, hockey, golf, rowing, and rugby union. As in most of the world, except bAmeriva, we had assuimed thast fooball is by far the most popular sport in which boys are most interested. Boys play it informally all the time on virtually any available surface. Organised games areset up by clubs and schools. An Irish reader writes, "I will point you to GAA.ie I think this might change your view on the 'dominance of soccer'. Hurling originated in England and is now played around the world. It is the major sport that boys can begin playing at a very early age. And little equipmnt is required. Anoyther Irish reader tells us that hurling is also very popular. Hurling (iomainiocht) is of Celtic origin dating back to ancient times. Hockey is a deritive of hurling. It is played in clubs and and schools throughout Ireland. Hurkling is a very fast, physical game. Bodily contact is permitted, but has to nne shoulder to shoulder tackle. Srtiking an opponent with a hurl is a foul and results in a penalty. Rach side has 15 players. This includes a goal keeper, defenders, mid-field players, and attackers. Boys now wear hekmets which are compulsory to avoid head injuries. The uniforms are club-destinctive short-sleeved jerseys and short oants with matching socks. Usually the youthg players wear ankle socks or knee socks rolled down to their ankles. Hand or wrist guards are sometimes worn. Shin guards are permitted, but rarely worn. Most boys see them as an emcmberance. It is a rck accepted by the boys that in the game that barelegs and arms may be accidentally struck.
Ireland was the poorest part of the United Kingdom. As a result children had to work there to a graeter extent than in the rest of the country. There are reports of Irish children being kidnappd andvtransportd to the Engkish colonies in North America to wotk as indentured servants (18th century). We are not sure to what extent this occurred. Ireland was an agricultural country. Irish children worked from an early age on large landed estates. Most of Ireland's land was held by landlords--some 97 percent as late as 1870. The land was rented out to pay rent to landlordswho had to mpay rent to the landlord and taxes to the Abglican Church of Ireland (to which few belonged) and State. Few Catholics (the vast majority of the population) actually owned land. The children worked on these tennant farms. Tenants often sub-rented small plots on a yearly basis from local farmers paying for them by labour service system -- the conacre, most with no lease or land rights. This system was imposed upon Ireland by the Enhlish and was essentially the same as English cottiers of England. [Winstanley] Few Irish children were involved in industry, there was so little of it in Ireland. The exception was familikes that moved to England. Britain did not begin establish a national public educatiin until realtively late, nuch alter than America and Germany. And Irish children had fewer educatiinal opportunities than other areas of the U.K. Britain did not take a major tep toard free public eduactiin until the late 19th century (1870). Unfortunately many Irish children could not even afford to attend school even though it was free. This only began to change by the turn-of-the 20th century.
Another activity are the various youth groups, especially the Scouts. Ireland is a devided country. The Irih were controlled bu the English for centuries and treated shabily for much of that time. Catholics were disenfranchised and the English and their Protestant Irish allies seized the land. British policies during the Potalo famine of the 1850s was particularly horendous. This eventually led to an independence movement. It began with the Easter Rebellion in Dublin (1916) during World War II. The Irish Revolutionary Army using terrorist attacks forced the British to relingish power to the Irish Free State, except in northern Ireland (Ulster) which ha a substantial Protestant population. Most Irish at the time thought this was a temporary arrangement that would eventually lead to a united independent Ireland. The Irish Free State evolved in to the Irisj Republic, but Ulster has remained a partb of the United Kingdom. Youth groups in the two Irelands are sepsrate.
Winstanley, M. J. Ireland and the Land Question 1800-1922 (London: Methuen, 1984).
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