Ireland

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

1845-1852

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.

1920s

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.

1960s-1990s

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 hints of 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 not 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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