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St. patrick converted the Celtic tribes of Ireland to Christianity in the fifth century. Irish missionaries then went out to Scotland, England, and Europe and, while Rome disintegrated, Ireland stood as a cultureal, religious, and educational center. But the Viking invasion changed Ireland: the destruction wrought in the 9th and 10th centuries left ireland isolated and poor. In 1014, Brian Boru reestablished an Irish monarchy. A century later, England turned its eye to Ireland as henry II became overlord. Eventually, another Henry -- the Eighth -- would declare himself monarch of Ireland as well. Henry brought the Reformation to Ireland at great hardship to the Catholic country. The Catholic Mass was made an act of treason. When rebellion arose in 1641, it was crushed by Cromwell over the course of a ten-year struggle, ending with the terrible massacre at Drogheda. The Irish supported James II against William of Orange, butJames was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, which sealed Ireland's fate as England imposed desctructive economic sanctions on the country as a result. The Gaelic language declined until few spoke it and the Irish aristocracy largely fled into exile. But the Irish kept trying, mounting an uprising in 1798 with held from Frnace, then in the throes of its own revolutionary fervor. The rebellion failed, with enormous casualities. Two years later, the Act of Union joined Ireland to England. But in response to continued agitation, England enacted the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829. In the 1840s, the potato blight led to the deaths of at least a million people from starvation and the emigration of at least 1.6 million more. Eventually, the English developed a plan that would create Northern Ireland, composed of six counties, that would be a part of the United Kingdom. The southern counties would have no part of this plan and they became independent within the Commonwealth. In 1949, Ireland became a fully-independent republic and Eamon de Valera prime minister; he was elected president of the republic in 1959. Ireland has been deeply involved in trying to mediate the problems of Northern Ireland, long mired in sectarian violence. While Ireland prospered in the south, the North suffered from thousands of casualties. Over the 1980s and 1990s, myriad attempts to negotiate an acceptable agreement raised hopes, but not until 1998 was an accord reached that promised the beginning of the end to violence.
A Brief History of Ireland
3000BC The Megalithic tombs are constructed,(Newgrange).
700BC The Celts arrive from parts of Gaul and Britain.
350AD Christianity reaches Ireland.
432 St. Patrick arrives in Ireland and confronts King Laoghaire who allows him to spread the word of Christianity in Ireland.
700-800 Monastic culture is at its height.
795 Invasion by the Vikings.
1014 Brian Boru defeats the Vikings at Clontarf.
1169Dermot MacMurrough, the exiled king of Leinster seeks help from 'Strongbow'.
1172 King Henry II of England is declared Feudal Lord of Ireland by the Pope.
1366 Statues of Kilkenny belatedly forbid intermarriage of English and Irish. Gaelic culture unsuccessfully suppressed.
1534-40 Insurrection by Lord Offaly fails.
1541 Henry VIII proclaimed King of Ireland.
1558-03 Plantation of Ireland commences under the reign of Elizabeth I.
1595-1603 Failed uprising of Hugh O'Neil culminates in defeat at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 and the end to the Gaelic order.
1607 Flight of the Earls and leading Ulster families go into exile.
1641 King Charles I's policies cause insurrection in Ulster and Civil War in England.
1649 Cromwell invades Ireland.
1653 Cromwell's opponents stripped of land under the Act of Settlement.
1689-90 Deposed James II flees to Ireland and is defeated at the Battle of the Boyne.
1704 The Penal Laws enacted: Catholics are barred from voting, education and the military.
1775 American War of Independence instigates Irish unrest.
1782 Grattan's Parliament persuades English to declare Irish independence, butin name only.
1795 The Organge Order is founded.
1798 Uprising by Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen is crushed.
1801 Ireland becomes part of Britain under the Act of Union.
1829 Catholic Emancipation Act passed after Daniel O'Connell elected as MP.
1845-49 The Great Famine claims over 1 million lives through starvation and disease. Emigration over the next 10 years results in departure of a further 1 million people.
1879-82 The Land War is instigated by Parnell who encourages the boycott of repressive landlords. The 3 'F's are gained for the peasantry: Fixity of Tenure, Fair Rent, Freedom to sell their holding.
1914 The Implementation of Home Rule is postponed because of the outbreak of World War I.
1916 The Easter Rising is led by Pearse, Connolly and others. The 7 leaders are executed which shifts public opinion in favour of the rebels.
1920-21 Michael Collins masterminds the War of Independence between Britain and Ireland. The Irish Free State is created (excluding the 6 Northern Counties).
1922-23 Civil war breaks out between the Free State Army and the Irregulars (the IRA).
1926 Fianna Fail party formed and led by DeVelera.
1932 De Valera elected Taoiseach of Ireland.
1939-45 Ireland remains neutral during WW2 despite the offer of a United Ireland having been made to DeVelera if Ireland enters the war on behalf of the Allies.
1948 Ireland declared a Republic by Costello. Northern Ireland is declared a separate entity.
1969Rioting between Catholics and Protestants. Civil Rights marches escalate. British troops called in to keep order.
1971 Provisional IRA begins campaign to oust British troops from Ireland.
1972 Republic of Ireland joins the European Community.
1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement signed.
1994 Peace Declaration and IRA ceasefire.
1998 'Good Friday' agreement reached promising the creation of a Northern Assembly.
1995-2005Period of rapid expansion and porperity in Ireland.
2008Economic disaster hits Ireland, the banking system collapses, massive loans are sought from the EU, ECB and IMF. Emigration accelerates rapidly.
Ireland — History and Culture
The history and culture of Ireland are strongly intertwined, showing aspects of the original Gaelic’s, its rituals, superstitions and loyalties alongside memories of the land’s troubled, oppressed centuries of colonization by the English. A love of nature, family, community, and church are all important, and Irish settlements all over the world are still firmly connected to their roots in the ‘old country’.
The recorded history of the Republic of Ireland begins in the 5th century, although references to even earlier tribal inhabitants were made by Roman writers including Julius Caesar, who became aware of its existence after his conquest of Britain. By the 5th century, Christianity was established on the island, and St Patrick arrived around 432 AD, firmly rooting the monastic movement. By the late medieval era, the country was a patchwork of small kingdoms often at war with each other.
The outside world arrived on the island with the conquest of Britain by William of Normandy, with large chunks of land granted to Norman lords after the 1169 invasion. In areas not under their control, Gaelic culture continued to thrive, and the short-lived Gaelic Kingdom of Ireland was established in 1541. By the early 17th century, the first English attempts at colonization by Protestant settlers had succeeded, and ongoing policies were to color the future up to the late 20th century.
Subjugation to England fuelled the fires of revolt during the early modern period, with Henry VIII’s English Reformation further muddied the waters. Finally, the Irish Roman Catholic population was totally excluded from power and local rebellions became the norm. From the early 17th century, brutal and largely unsuccessful methods were used to persuade Ireland’s people to convert to Protestantism, with the Plantations policy the most damaging.
Protestants from Scotland and England were granted fertile lands and formed the ruling class, with Catholics disallowed from holding public office. Religious persecution became the norm, amid growing resentment and hatred of the English by Irish Catholics. Civil war broke out in 1641, resulting in a brief period of Catholic majority rule, after which the land was re-conquered by Oliver Cromwell’s armies and all Catholic Irish-owned lands confiscated.
Anti-Catholic repression and struggles with the English Crown characterized the late 17th century, culminating in the Williamite War between deposed King James II of England and King William of Orange. The decisive 1690 Battle of the Boyne saw James defeated, and the Battle of Aughrim a year later smashed any hopes of Irish Catholic landowners. Harsh penal laws were reintroduced by the Protestant elite and, from 1801 to 1922, the island was ruled by London.
The Great Famine during the 1840’s saw hundreds of thousands of deaths and massive Irish immigrations to the new land of America. By the latter part of the century, Home Rule was vigorously supported and finally passed in 1922 after three years of civil war between the Irish Republican Army and the British Army. The Republic of Ireland was born, but sadly, religion-based conflicts in Northern Ireland continued for decades.
Modern-day culture in Ireland is divided between rural and urban populations, Catholics and Protestants, Gaelic and English-speakers and traveling and settled communities. Its heart is Celtic, with many festivals based on ancient pagan ceremonies. Memories of the troubled past influence cultural events, and the mostly Catholic land takes its hard-won religious freedom seriously. ‘Wearing of the green’, the traditional costume, is done with pride, and 40 percent of the population speak the ancient language.
Legends, folk tales and beliefs in supernatural beings such as Leprechauns are commonplace, and the lucky three-leaf shamrock is a much-loved symbol. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow originated in Irish mythology, and Halloween is a favorite holiday. Irish dance, gypsy music, great literature and links to tragic, romantic, Arthurian legends such as Tristan and Isolde are all part of Ireland’s rich and colorful cultural heritage.
Irish slavery – thousands of rebels transported to the Caribbean in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Missing eleven days – protestors lined the streets crying: “Give us our eleven days back!”
Irish Tricolour flag – the iconic flag of Ireland was the symbol of nationalism for Irish rebels.
‘Forgotten Famine’ of 1879 not so well known famine but left a lasting impression on the country.
The Fethard Lifeboat Disaster – nine Irishmen and two Norwegians died off the coast of Wexford in a failed rescue mission.
The Cavan Orphanage Fire – 35 children were killed in a tragic event that could have been avoided.
Irish weatherman’s crucial role in D Day Landings – things may have turned out differently had it not been for a report from an Irish lighthouse keeper.
The fall of Nelson’s Pillar – statue to British leader destroyed 50 years after the Easter Rising.
S M Sigerson
Ireland History - History
Two ancient peoples. A modern-day connection. Nothing divides the Choctaw people from the Irish except for the ocean.
Both the Choctaw Nation and Ireland were, in effect, colonized by outside powers. Their ancient tongues almost became extinct, and have been rescued from oblivion and made into working languages again through concerted effort and sophisticated approaches. Both peoples have successfully preserved their cultures and traditions.
Their relationship began in 1847, when the Choctaws—who had only recently arrived over the ruinous “trail of tears and death” to what is now Oklahoma—took up a donation and collected over $5,000 (in today’s money) to support the Irish during the Potato Famine. The famine ravaged Ireland during the 1840s.
The Choctaws’ donation was sent to the town of Midleton in County Cork, south of Dublin. There, many decades later, the townspeople realized their aid had come from a people who were themselves in a very unique set of circumstances—reestablishing their society and their government after the long and painful migration.
Irish President Mary Robinson visited the Choctaw Nation in 1995 to rekindle and reestablish the friendship, and thank Choctaws for their aid to Midleton. Some years later, in 2017, a sculpture commemorating the Choctaws and their gift, known as “Kindred Spirits,” was dedicated in a beautiful park in Midleton.
In 2018, Ireland’s prime minister, or Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, visited Choctaw Nation headquarters to thank the Choctaws and initiate the first of a continuing series of yearly scholarships for Choctaw students to study in Ireland. Ireland’s Consul General visited the Choctaw Nation a year later.
In 2020 the story took a new twist when a pandemic known as the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, caused disruptions around the world. The death toll was particularly acute in the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation. The Irish, stating that they were “paying it forward” with their aid from the Choctaws in mind, took up a very sizeable donation with which to aid and assist the Navajo and Hopi.
"Adversity often brings out the best in people. We are gratified—and perhaps not at all surprised— to learn of the assistance our special friends, the Irish, are giving to the Navajo and Hopi nations. Our word for their selfless act is ‘iyyikowa’—it means serving those in need. We have become kindred spirits with the Irish in the years since the Irish Potato Famine. We hope the Irish, Navajo and Hopi peoples develop lasting friendships, as we have. Sharing our cultures makes the world grow smaller." - Chief Gary Batton
Anti-British agitation, along with demands for Irish home rule, led to the Easter Rebellion in Dublin (April 24?29, 1916), in which Irish nationalists unsuccessfully attempted to throw off British rule. Guerrilla warfare against British forces followed proclamation of a republic by the rebels in 1919. The Irish Free State was established as a dominion on Dec. 6, 1922, with six northern counties remaining as part of the United Kingdom. A civil war ensued between those supporting the Anglo-Irish Treaty that established the Irish Free State and those repudiating it because it led to the partitioning of the island. The Irish Republican Army (IRA), led by Eamon de Valera, fought against the partition, but lost. De Valera joined the government in 1927 and became prime minister in 1932. In 1937, a new constitution changed the nation's name to ire. Ireland remained neutral in World War II.
In 1948, De Valera was defeated by John A. Costello, who demanded final independence from Britain. The Republic of Ireland was proclaimed on April 18, 1949, and withdrew from the Commonwealth. From the 1960s onward two antagonistic currents dominated Irish politics. One sought to bind the wounds of the rebellion and civil war. The other was the effort of the outlawed Irish Republican Army and more moderate groups to bring Northern Ireland into the republic. The ?troubles??the violence and terrorist acts between Republicans and Unionists in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland?would plague the island for the remainder of the century and beyond.
Ireland History - History
- 2000 - Bronze tools and weapons begin to be used in Ireland.
- 600 - The Iron Age begins. Celtic peoples begin to arrive on the island from mainland Europe.
- 200 - Ireland is ruled by a large number of small kingdoms.
Brief Overview of the History of Ireland
The Irish people are mainly of Celtic origin. The Celts arrived in the 5th century BC. They invaded Ireland along with Great Britain and other areas of Europe. In 432 AD St. Patrick arrived on the island and began to work to convert the locals to Christianity. Monasteries formed where Irish scholars studied Latin and Greek as well as developed the arts of manuscript, metalworking, and sculpture. The isolation of the monasteries helped keep this knowledge alive during the Dark Ages.
Starting in the 9th century, the Vikings regularly invaded and pillaged Ireland. They would do this for nearly 200 years. In the 12th century the Normans invaded and conquered the land.
Ireland became part of the United Kingdom in 1800 with the signing of the Act of Union. In 1845 Ireland was hit with a great famine. The potato crop failed and millions died of starvation. Millions more left the country and many Irish emigrated to the United States.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s the Irish began to want their independence from the United Kingdom. The Sinn Fein, which means "Ourselves Alone" became a political movement for freedom. From 1919-1921 Ireland and England went to war. At the end of the war the Irish Free State was formed. Ireland was divided into the Republic of Ireland, which is an independent country, and Northern Ireland, which is still a part of the United Kingdom.
Today in Ireland, English is the common language, but Irish (Gaelic) is also an official language and is taught in schools.
A Brief History of Ireland
Historians estimate that Ireland was first settled by humans at a relatively late stage in European terms – about 10,000 years ago. Around 4000 BC it is estimated that the first farmers arrived in Ireland. Farming marked the arrival of the new Stone Age. Around 300BC, Iron Age warriors known as the Celts came to Ireland from mainland Europe. The Celts had a huge influence on Ireland. Many famous Irish myths stem from stories about Celtic warriors. The current first official language of the Republic of Ireland, Irish (or Gaeilge) stems from Celtic language.
Following the arrival of Saint Patrick and other Christian missionaries in the early to mid-5th century, Christianity took over the indigenous pagan religion by the year 600 AD. Irish Christian scholars excelled in the study of Latin, Greek and Christian theology in monasteries throughout Ireland. The arts of manuscript illumination, metalworking and sculpture flourished and produced such treasures as the Book of Kells, ornate jewellery, and the many carved stone crosses that can still be seen across the country.
At the end of the 8th century and during the 9th century Vikings, from where we now call Scandinavia, began to invade and then gradually settle into and mix with Irish society. The Vikings founded, Dublin, Ireland’s capital city in 988. Following the defeat of the Vikings by Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland, at Clontarf in 1014, Viking influence faded.
The 12th century saw the arrival of the Normans. The Normans built walled towns, castles and churches. They also increased agriculture and commerce in Ireland.
After King Henry VIII declared himself head of the Church in England in 1534 he ensured that the Irish Parliament declared him King of Ireland in 1541. From this time up to the late 17th century, an official English policy of ‘plantation’ led to the arrival of thousands of English and Scottish Protestant settlers. The most successful plantation occurred in Ulster. From this period on, sectarian conflict became a common theme in Irish history.
The 17th century was a bloody one in Ireland. It culminated in the imposition of the harsh regime of Penal laws. These laws set about disempowering Catholics, denying them, for example, the right to take leases or own land above a certain value, outlawing Catholic clergy, forbidding higher education and entry to the professions, and imposing oaths of conformity to the state church, the Church of Ireland. During the 18th century strict enforcement of the Penal laws eased but by 1778 Catholics held only about 5% of the land in Ireland.
In 1782 a Parliamentary faction led by Henry Grattan (a Protestant) successfully agitated for a more favourable trading relationship with England and for greater legislative independence for the Parliament of Ireland. However, London still controlled much of what occurred in Ireland. Inspired by the French Revolution, in 1791 an organisation called the United Irishmen was formed with the ideal of bringing Irish people of all religions together to reform and reduce Britain’s power in Ireland. Its leader was a young Dublin Protestant called Theobald Wolfe Tone. The United Irishmen were the inspiration for the armed rebellion of 1798. Despite attempts at help from the French the rebellion failed and in 1801 the Act of Union was passed uniting Ireland politically with Britain.
In 1829 one of Ireland’s greatest leaders Daniel O’Connell, known as ‘the great liberator’ was central in getting the Act of Catholic Emancipation passed in the parliament in London. He succeeded in getting the total ban on voting by Catholics lifted and they could now also become Members of the Parliament in London.
After this success O’Connell aimed to cancel the Act of Union and re-establish an Irish parliament. However, this was a much bigger task and O’Connell’s approach of non-violence was not supported by all. Such political issues were overshadowed however by the worst disaster and tragedy in Irish history – the great famine.
Potatoes were the staple food of a growing population at the time. When blight (a form of plant disease) struck potato crops nationwide in 1845, 1846 and 1847 disaster followed. Potatoes were inedible and people began to starve to death. The response of the British government also contributed to the disaster – trade agreements were still controlled by London. While hundreds of thousands of people were suffering from extreme hunger, Ireland was forced to export abundant harvests of wheat and dairy products to Britain and further overseas.
Between 1845 and 1851 two million people died or were forced to emigrate from Ireland. The population of Ireland has never since reached its pre-famine level of approximately 8 million.
Ireland’s history of emigration continued from this point onwards with the majority of Irish emigrants going to the United States of America.
There was little effective challenge to Britain’s control of Ireland until the efforts of Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-91). At the age of 31 he became leader of the Irish Home Rule Party, which became the Irish Parliamentary Party in 1882.
While Parnell did not achieve Home Rule (or self-government), his efforts and widely recognised skills in the House of Commons earned him the title of ‘the uncrowned king of Ireland’. The impetus he gave to the idea of Home Rule was to have lasting implications.
In Ulster in the north of Ireland the majority of people were Protestants. They were concerned about the prospect of Home Rule being granted as they would be a Protestant minority in an independent Ireland with a Catholic majority. They favoured the union with Britain. The Unionist Party was lead by Sir Edward Carson. Carson threatened an armed struggle for a separate Northern Ireland if independence was granted to Ireland.
A Home Rule Bill was passed in 1912 but crucially it was not brought into law. The Home Rule Act was suspended at the outbreak of World War One in 1914. Many Irish nationalists believed that Home Rule would be granted after the war if they supported the British war effort. John Redmond the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party encouraged people to join the British forces and many did join. However, a minority of nationalists did not trust the British government leading to one of the most pivotal events in Irish history, the Easter Rising.
On April 24 (Easter Monday) 1916, two groups of armed rebels, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army seized key locations in Dublin. The Irish Volunteers were led by Padraig Pearse and the Irish Citizen Army was led by James Connolly. Outside the GPO (General Post Office) in Dublin city centre, Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation of the Republic which declared an Irish Republic independent of Britain.
Battles ensued with casualties on both sides and among the civilian population. The Easter Rising finished on April 30th with the surrender of the rebels. The majority of the public was actually opposed to the Rising. However, public opinion turned when the British administration responded by executing many of the leaders and participants in the Rising. All seven signatories to the proclamation were executed including Pearse and Connolly.
Two of the key figures who were involved in the rising who avoided execution were Éamon de Valera and Michael Collins. In the December 1918 elections the Sinn Féin party led by Éamon de Valera won a majority of the Ireland based seats of the House of Commons. On the 21 January 1919 the Sinn Féin members of the House of Commons gathered in Dublin to form an Irish Republic parliament called Dáil Éireann, unilaterally declaring power over the entire island.
What followed is known as the ‘war of independence’ when the Irish Republican Army – the army of the newly declared Irish Republic – waged a guerilla war against British forces from 1919 to 1921. One of the key leaders of this war was Michael Collins. In December 1921 a treaty was signed by the Irish and British authorities. While a clear level of independence was finally granted to Ireland the contents of the treaty were to split Irish public and political opinion. One of the sources of division was that Ireland was to be divided into Northern Ireland (6 counties) and the Irish Free State (26 counties) which was established in 1922.
Such was the division of opinion in Ireland that a Civil War followed from 1922 to 1923 between pro and anti treaty forces, with Collins (pro-treaty) and de Valera (anti-treaty) on opposing sides. The consequences of the Civil war can be seen to this day where the two largest political parties in Ireland have their roots in the opposing sides of the civil war – Fine Gael (pro-treaty) and Fianna Fáil (anti-treaty). A period of political stability followed the Civil War.
Under the same Government of Ireland Act of 1920 that created the Irish Free State, the Parliament of Northern Ireland was created. The Parliament consisted of a majority of Protestants and while there was relative stability for decades this was to come to an end in the late 1960s due to systematic discrimination against Catholics.
1968 saw the beginning of Catholic civil rights marches in Northern Ireland which led to violent reactions from some Protestant loyalists and from the police force. What followed was a period known as ‘the Troubles’ when nationalist/republican and loyalist/unionist groups clashed.
In 1969 British troops were sent to Derry and Belfast to maintain order and to protect the Catholic minority. However, the army soon came to be seen as a tool of the Protestant majority by the minority Catholic community. This was reinforced by events such as Bloody Sunday in 1972 when British forces opened fire on a Catholic civil rights march in Derry killing 13 people. An escalation of paramilitary violence followed with many atrocities committed by both sides. The period of ‘the Troubles’ are generally agreed to have finished with the Belfast (or Good Friday) Agreement of April 10th 1998.
Between 1969 and 1998 it is estimated that well over 3,000 people were killed by paramilitary groups on opposing sides of the conflict.
Since 1998 considerable stability and peace has come to Northern Ireland. In 2007 former bitterly opposing parties the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin began to co-operate in government together in Northern Ireland.
The 1937 Constitution re-established the state as the Republic of Ireland.
In 1973 Ireland joined the European Economic Community (now the European Union).
In the 1980s the Irish economy was in recession and large numbers of people emigrated for employment reasons. Many young people emigrated to the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia.
Economic reforms in the 1980s along with membership of the European Community (now European Union) created one of the world’s highest economic growth rates. Ireland in the 1990s, so long considered a country of emigration, became a country of immigration. This period in Irish history was called the Celtic Tiger.
The Saddest Day in Irish History?
January 7: TODAY in Irish History:
Former allies: Civil War foes, Michael Collins and Eamonn De Valera
Snippets of Irish History by Conor Cunneen IrishmanSpeaks
Conor is a Chicago based Motivational Humorous Business Speaker, Author and History buff.
WATCH: A Short History of Ireland
1922: Dail Approves Treaty – Civil War Looms
January 7th 1922 is possibly the saddest day in Irish history when a vote on the Treaty unfortunately set the scene for the Irish Civil War.
Thirty-two days after Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith sign the treaty in London granting Ireland legislative and financial independence for the first time since 1800, the divided Dail votes on the Treaty: sixty-four for approval and fifty-seven against.
De Valera and his supporters’ refusal to accept the democratic vote of the Dail meant civil war was inevitable.
The debate took a huge emotional toll on the participants. The official Dail record states that at the end of the debate, when De Valera knew he had lost the vote:
“PRESIDENT DE VALERA: I would like my last word here to be this: we have had a glorious record for four years it has been four years of magnificent discipline in our nation. The world is looking at us now——
(The President here breaks down).”
Civil war was now just months away between men who fought side by side during the War of Independence.
First Dail Eireann – Happier Times
Front Row: From Left to Right: Second Left Michael Collins (pro-Treaty), Cathal Brugha (anti), Arthur Griffith (pro) Eamonn De Valera (anti)
The vote followed a vitriolic debate were each side accused the other of bad faith. Michael Collins—who when he signed the Treaty wrote “I have signed my death warrant—was a significant target for personal attacks from anti-Treaty members of the House.
Pro-Treatyite Cathal Brugha commented: “While the war was in progress I could not praise too highly the work done by the Head Quarters’ Staff. The Chief of Staff and each of the leaders of the subsections—the members of the Head Quarters’ Staff—were the best men we could get for the positions each of them carried out efficiently, so far as I know, the work that was entrusted to him they worked conscientiously and patriotically for Ireland without seeking any notoriety, with one exception whether he is responsible or not for the notoriety I am not going to say (cries of “Shame” and “Get on with the Treaty”). There is little more for me to say. One member was specially selected by the Press and the people to put him into a position which he never held he was made a romantic figure, a mystical character such as this person certainly is not the gentleman I refer to is Mr. Michael Collins.”
The Treaty vote may well have signaled the saddest day in Irish History.
A brief timeline:
1916: Easter Rising. Michael Collins, Eamonn De Valera, Cathal Brugha take part in the Rising.
1918: Sinn Fein wins massive majority (73 seats) in General Election and refuses to take its seats in UK Parliament
1919: January 21: Sinn members meet in Dublin proclaiming the first Dail and declaring an Irish Republic (not recognized by Britain)
On the same day in 1919 in a totally unconnected incident, two Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) are ambushed and killed at Soloheadbeg, Co. Tipperary by IRA men including Dan Breen and Sean Treacy. The unauthorized attack is now accepted as the first incident in the brutal War of Independence which would eventually force Britain to the negotiating table.
1921: December 6 th : The Anglo-Irish Treaty is signed in London.The following debate in Dail Eireann primarily centered on whether Collins, Griffith and company had the authority to sign an agreement on behalf of the Irish people.
1922: Dail Eireann votes to ratify the treaty. De Valera and anti-Treaty members refuse to accept the vote. Senior members of the IRA who had fought so hard to oust Britain from Ireland were now on different sides. The pro-Treaty side included Richard Mulcahy, Eoin O’Duffy, Michael Collins, Emmet Dalton, Piaras Bealsai. The anti- Treaty side included Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows, Cathal Brugha, Austen Stack, Countess Markievicz and President of the Dail Eamonn De Valera.
Happier Times: Kevin O’Higgins Wedding
De Valera, Kevin O’Higgins and Best Man Rory O’Connor. O’Higgins would approve the execution of his friend O’Connor during the Civil War
June 28 th : Opening act of what would prove to be a vicious civil war when Irish government forces bombard the Four Courts in Dublin which anti-Treaty forces had taken by force.
Four Courts Bombardment
December 6 th : Irish Free State is formally established consisting of the whole Ireland of Ireland
December 7 th : Six counties of Northern Ireland opts out of the Irish Free State and becomes a separate political entity with allegiance to England.
1923: Late May: Civil War ends with complete victory for Irish government forces. Atrocities had been carried out by both sides.
1926: Eamonn De Valera founds Fianna Fail
1927: Fianna Fail wins 44 seats in the general election and De Valera now enters Dail Eireann, prepared to take an Oath of Allegiance that he railed against during the Treaty debate now describing it merely as an “empty political formula.” Had he taken that view on January 7th 1922, it is quite likely there would have been no Civil War.
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How Ireland Turned ‘Fallen Women’ Into Slaves
When the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity decided to sell some land they owned in Dublin, Ireland, to pay their debts in 1992, the nuns followed the proper procedures. They petitioned officials for permission to move the bodies of women buried in the cemetery at their Donnybrook laundry, which between 1837 and 1992 served as a workhouse and home for llen women.”
But the cemetery at Donnybrook was no ordinary resting place: It was a mass grave. Inside were the bodies of scores of unknown women: the undocumented, uncared-about inmates of one of Ireland’s notorious Magdalene laundries. Their lives𠅊nd later their deaths—had been shrouded in secrecy.
For more than two centuries, women in Ireland were sent to institutions like Donnybrook as a punishment for having sex outside of marriage. Unwed mothers, flirtatious women and others deemed unfit for society were forced to labor under the strict supervision of nuns for months or years, sometimes even for life.
When the mass grave at Donnybrook was discovered, the 155 unmarked tombs touched off a scandal that exposed the extent and horrors of the Magdalene laundries. As women came forward to share their experiences of being held against their will in restrictive workhouses, the Irish public reacted with outrage.
The interior of the now derelict Sisters of Our Lady of Charity Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott St in Dublin’s north inner city on the day of The Irish Government has apologised to the thousands of women locked up in Catholic-run workhouses known as Magdalene laundries between 1922 and 1996. (Photo by Julien Behal/PA Images via Getty Images)
When the Magdalene Movement first took hold in the mid-18th century, the campaign to put llen women” to work was supported by both the Catholic and Protestant churches, with women serving short terms inside the asylums with the goal of rehabilitation. Over the years, however, the Magdalene laundries—named for the Biblical figure Mary Magdaleneme primarily Catholic institutions, and the stints grew longer and longer. Women sent there were oftenharged with “redeeming themselves” through lace-making, needlework or doing laundry.
Though most residents had not been convicted of any crime, conditions inside were prison-like. “Redemption might sometimes involve a variety of coercive measures, including shaven heads, institutional uniforms, bread and water diets, restricted visiting, supervised correspondence, solitary confinement and even flogging,”writes historian Helen J. Self.
Ireland’s first such institution, the Magdalen Asylum for Penitent Females in Dublin, was founded by the Protestant Church of Ireland in 1765. At the time, there was a worry that prostitution in Irish cities was on the rise and that “wayward” women who had been seduced, had sex outside of marriage, or gotten pregnant out of wedlock were susceptible to becoming prostitutes. Soon, parents began to send their unmarried daughters to the institutions to hide their pregnancies.
Initially, a majority of women entered the institutionsvoluntarily and served out multi-year terms in which they learned a “respectable” profession. The idea was that they𠆝 employ these skills to earn money after being released their work supported the institution while they were there.
Nursery in the Sean Ross Abbey. (Credit: Brian Lockier/Adoption Rights Alliance)
But over time, the institutions became more like prisons, with many different groups of women being routed through the system, sometimes by the Irish government. There were inmates imported from psychiatric institutions and jails, women with special needs, victims of rape and sexual assault, pregnant teenagers sent there by their parents, and girls deemed too flirtatious or tempting to men. Others were there for no obvious reason. Though the institutions were run by Catholic orders, they were supported by the Irish government, which funneled money toward the system in exchange for laundry services.
Nuns ruled the laundries with impunity, sometimes beating inmates and enforcing strict rules of silence. “You didn’t know when the next beating was going to come,”said survivor Mary Smith in an oral history.
Smith was incarcerated in the Sundays Well laundry in Cork after being raped nuns told her it was “in case she got pregnant.” Once there, she was forced to cut her hair and take on a new name. She was not allowed to talk and was assigned backbreaking work in the laundry, where nuns regularly beat her for minor infractions and forced her to sleep in the cold. Due to the trauma she suffered, Smith doesn’t remember exactly how long she spent in Sundays Well. “To me it felt like my lifetime,” she said.
Survivors (left to right) Maureen Sullivan, Mary McManus, Kitty Jennette and Mary Smith, at the Law Reform Commission offices in Dublin to discuss proposed compensation packages, for those who survived Catholic-run workhouses known as Magdalene laundries. (Credit: Julien Behal/PA Images/Getty Images)
Smith wasn’t alone. Often, women’s names were stripped from them they were referred to by numbers or as 𠇌hild” or “penitent.” Some inmates—often orphans or victims of rape or abuse—stayed there for a lifetime others escaped and were brought back to the institutions.
Another survivor, Marina Gambold, was placed in a laundry by her local priest. She recalls beingਏorced to eat off the floor after breaking a cup and getting locked outside in the coldਏor a minor infraction. “I was working in the laundry fromight in the morning until about six in the evening,” she told the BBC in 2013. “I was starving with the hunger, I was given bread and dripping for my breakfast.”
Some pregnant woman were transferred to homes for unwed mothers, where they bore and temporarily lived with their babies and worked in conditions similar to those of the laundries. Babies were usually taken from their mothers and handed over to other families. In one of the most notorious homes, the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, scores of babies died. In 2014, remains of at least 796 babies were found in a septic tank in the home’s yard the facility is still being investigated to reconstruct the story of what happened there.
John Pascal Rodgers, who was born in Tuam, Ireland, at a home for unmarried mothers run by nuns, poses with a photograph of his mother Bridie Rodgers. (Credit: Paul FaithAFP/Getty Images)
How did such an abusive system endure for 231 years in Ireland? To start with, any talk of harsh treatment at the Magdalene laundries and mothers’ homes tended to be dismissed by the public, since the institutions were run by religious orders. Survivors who told others what they had been through were often shamed or ignored. Other women were too embarrassed to talk about their past and never told anyone about their experiences. Details on both the inmates and their lives are scant.
Estimates of the number of women who went through Irish Magdalene laundries vary, and most religious orders haverefused to provide archival information for investigators and historians. Up to 300,000 women are thought to have passed through the laundries in total, at least 10,000 of them since 1922. But despite a large number of survivors, the laundries went unchallenged until the 1990s.
Then, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity decided to sell some of its land in 1992. They applied to have 133 bodies moved from unmarked graves on the property, but the remains of 155 people were found. When journalists learned that only 75 death certificates existed, startled community members cried out for more information. The nunsexplained there had been an administrative error, cremated all of the remains, and reburied them in another mass grave.
Kevin Flanagan with Marie Barry, who was born at a Bessboro Mother and Baby home, at the 2014 third annual Flowers for Magdalenes remembrance event in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin, to mark all of the women incarcerated in the Magdalene laundries. (Credit: Brian Lawless/PA Images/Getty Images)
The discovery turned the Magdalene laundries from an open secret to front-page news. Suddenly, womenꂾgan to testify about their experiences at the institutions, and to pressure the Irish government to hold the Catholic Church accountable and to pursue cases with the United Nations for human rights violations. Soon, the UN urged the Vatican to look into the matter, stating that “girls [at the laundries] were deprived of their identity, of education and often of food and essential medicines and were imposed with an obligation of silence and prohibited from having any contact with the outside world.”
As the Catholic Church remained silent, the Irish government released a report that acknowledged extensive government involvement in the laundries and the deep cruelty of the institutions. In 2013, Ireland’s presidentapologized to the Magdalene women and announced a compensation fund. However, the religious groups that ran the laundries have refused to contribute to the fund and have turned away researchers looking for more information about the laundries.
Due in part to the uproar surrounding the discovery of the mass grave, the last Magdalene laundry finally closed in 1996. Known as the Gloucester Street Laundry, it was home to 40 women, most of them elderly and many with developmental disabilities. Nine had no known relatives all decided to stay with the nuns.
Although Smith managed to reclaim her own life, she understands theꃚmage that long-term institutionalization can inflict. “My body went into shellshock when I went there. When that door closed, my life was over,” Smith recalled in her oral history. “You see all these women there and you know you’re going to end up like them and be psychologically damaged for the rest of your life.”