When visiting Ireland, an island with castles, churches, and conflict, you can’t ignore the history.


It is said, Ireland’s greatest export is its people.

Coffin Ship opposite Croagh Patrick in County Mayo is dedicated to the immigrants from the potato famine who never returned home.


In 1921, the Irish successfully won independence from Great Britain, creating a Catholic Irish Free State in the south and a predominately Protestant Northern Ireland. The partition of the island (Gaelic: críochdheighilt na hÉireann) was based on 17th-century British colonization. The six counties in the northeastern and northcentral portions of the island, Northern Ireland, remained under British rule, whereas the remaining 26 counties in the northwest and south became the Republic of Ireland. The intent of the partition was to eventually reunite the north with the south, but unification has eluded the island.

Original Irish Republican Army (1919-1922). Leaders of the Easter Rising on a billboard by Bunberg.


The Northern Ireland Conflict, or The Troubles (Na Trioblóidí), started with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. In Northern Ireland, an equal rights campaign to end the discrimination against the minority Catholic/Nationalists (Republicans) by the majority Protestant/Unionists (Loyalists) was violently opposed by the Unionists. Loyalists supported the Protestant United Kingdom to maintain rule, but Republicans complained of housing and job bias by the government.

Clondard Monastery in Belfast.

Republican Civil Rights marches were repeatedly attacked by Protestant Loyalists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, an overwhelmingly Protestant police force. In the predominately Catholic communities of Belfast and Derry (legally Londonderry), there was fierce fighting and rioting. Homes were burned in Belfast around Clonard Monastery, and many were killed, including the Clonard Martyrs.

Photos of Clondard Martyrs on Peace Wall in Belfast.

The Provisional IRA (Irish Republican Army (Óglaigh na hÉireann), known for car bombings and revenge killings, was an Irish Republican paramilitary organization that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, facilitate Irish reunification and bring about an independent, socialist government. On Good Friday, April 10, 1998 agreement was reached with most of the political parties on how to rule Northern Ireland. Since then, the IRA is considered an illegal terrorist group.

Yet explosive hints from the past are seen everywhere. Such as the innkeeper with an Irish mother and Palestinian father or when I asked for directions to Derry and a young man corrected me with, “That’s LONDONderry.” In Northern Ireland, battle lines are still drawn.

NORTHERN IRELAND – A land of ghostly beauty

Heather, water, green pastures County Tyrone.
Giant Causeway, columns of basalt in polygonal shapes, like the wall in Game of Thrones, County Antrim.
Fishing along the North Atlantic Ocean, County Londonderry.
Castle Coole, relics of grander times, County Fermanagh.
Northwest of Derry sits Grianan of Aileach, Bronze Age Ringfort, in County Donegal, just across the border from Northern Ireland.

SOUTHERN IRELAND. Land of Faries, Iron Age bogmen, 6,000 year old Neolithic Cemeteries, and Yeats.

Yeats, an influential 20th Century poet, fought for Irish tradition and against British rule, County Sligo.
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery with common flat berm in background. County Sligo.
Not all those who wander are lost. Bicycling Connemara Coast, County Galway.
Glifden Castle, County Galway.
Windswept Aran Island Village along the western coast, County Galway.
Fairy tree and magic well for wee-folk in background.
Tiny chapel on Inis Mor, Aran Islands, County Galway.
Cemetery Inis Mor, Aran Island, County Galway.
Best Gaelic tavern music, Doolin, County Clare.
Take Liscannor walk to Tower of Hags Head then along the coast trail for the best view of Cliffs of Moher or visit the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival in September when singles hope to find the love of their life.
Cliffs of Moher, one false step and it’s suicide. County Clare
Dysert O’Dea Castle, not very glamourous outside but minimal windows keeps cold out. County Clare.
Inside Dysert O’Dea Castle, County Clare.
Kilkenny Castle, County Kilkenny.
Fairy Art from Kilkenny Castle Museum, County Kilkenny.
Reconstruction of Iron Age Bogman, Dublin Museum, County Dublin.
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