History of Ireland

The history of Ireland can be traced back to the year 6.000 Before Chirst when the island is believed to have been inhabited by local tribes.  Around  the year 2.000 tribes from Europe brought the Neolithic culture and built megalithic monuments around the year 3.000 BC similar to the one at Stonehenge but older than that.

Greek and Roman authors wrote first about Ireland referring to it as Mikra Brettania  or Little Britain. The geographer Ptolemy was the first to record the name of the island as Iwermia and to write about the local tribes which populated the territory in the year 100 AD. The name of the island became later Hibernia for the Romans who settled in the territory for years.

The fights between tribes and kingdoms were frequent in the Irish territory and prevented a unification of the country. Progressively through the years the concept of a unique king of Ireland started to gain importance.

Viking and Norman invasions of Ireland

Viking ships first arrived to Ireland in the 8th century AD and settled in Dyflinn, the present day  Dublin. Although Vikings never completed their conquest of the island, they left their imprint in the Irish culture and cities since their settlements turned into important Irish cities.

The Normans arrived in Ireland around the 12th century AD. During these days the local Irish kings and the Norman invaders fought to control different parts of Ireland and from the 13th century the defeat of the Normans brought about a resurgence of Gaelic culture and language.

English control of Ireland

In the 16th century the English king Herny VII imposed a tighter control over Ireland putting the island under the control of English government and proclaiming himself king of Ireland. Although the British achieved political control of the Irish territory, the religious control was unsuccessful as they were unable to convert the Irish from Catholicism to Protestantism.

From the late 16th century English Protestants arrived in Northern Ireland to settle there. This is the origin of the conflicts between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country since the cultural and religious differences between the native Irish Catholics and the English newcomers were quite strong.

Irish great famine

One of the saddest episodes of Irish History comes in the 19th century when the Great Famine caused by the potato blight struck the country. More than a million Irish people died from starvation and millions of people emigrated to the United Kingdom, United States and Australia among other destinations.  After the potato famine Irish population dropped from 8 million to 4 and Gaelic language almost disappeared.

Read more about History of Irish cities in our section History of Dublin