Notes on Irish History

This is an extremely potted overview of a complex subject so please forgive any simplifications or misunderstandings. It is hoped to write a more detailed account, as it affects our family history, when time permits.

It is the dis-establishment of the Roman Catholic church by Henry Vlll, absentee English landlords of vast estates in the south, suppression of the local population by the state and the 1800 Act of Union that are the causes of the "Irish Troubles".

The English landlords encouraged protestant English and Scottish to work, according to their "position" in society, either on or in support their estates in order to reduce the influence of the Catholic church. In many cases this was by "transferring" workers from their estates in England and Scotland. Hard working, dour, Scottish lowlanders settled in large numbers in the north of Ireland closest to and just across the sea from lowland Scotland in what we now know as Northern Ireland. Which is why Northern Irish and (particularly Glasgow area) Scottish accents are similar. It is Scottish protestant "colonisation" of the north that particularly led to the bitter sectarian divide in Northern Ireland that endured until recently (and in areas still exists below the surface).

Incidentally the ancient Kingdom of Ulster is defined by what we now know as nine counties - Counties Derry, Antrim, Down, Armagh, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal. With the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 and Independence in 1948 the first six counties opted to stay part of the United Kingdom; Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal becoming part of the Republic.


This page was last updated on 30th September 2008.