the religious tensions that have marked Ireland's history
for many centuries began in the 17th century when extensive
immigration took place by British Protestants (especially
Presbyterians from Scotland) who settled in the northeastern
corner of the country and subjugated to the area's original
population - Celts converted to Christianity in the early
With the Union Act of 1800, Ireland was incorporated into
the United Kingdom. In the 19th century, the desire for
independence led to the development of a strong nationalist
movement. Apart from the Protestants in the Northeast, the
majority of the population supported the demand for
In 1916, the Republican Easter uprising in Dublin was
crushed, but in the aftermath of the uprising, the Irish
Republican Army (IRA) was formed and the final stage of the
long road to independence was initiated.
The IRA military offensive in 1920 forced the British to
give the 26 predominantly Catholic counties independence.
Southern Ireland now became an autonomous region within the
United Kingdom. The remaining 6 counties in the Northeast
now became Northern Ireland with Government in Belfast and
representation in the British Parliament, Westminster.
In 1922, Southern Ireland declared itself independent and
was converted to the Free Irish State, under the British
Crown. Finally, in 1949 it was converted to the Republic of
Ireland, thus breaking the last ties with the British state,
Relationship with Northern Ireland
The 1937 Constitution views Ireland as one unified
territory. All its residents have the right to vote and to
be elected. The constitution was amended by a referendum in
1998 and now recognizes Northern Ireland's right to decide
its future status on its own.
With the support of the Protestant majority, the Ulster
Unionist Party (UUP) had control of Parliament in Belfast.
For 50 years, Northern Ireland was ruled exclusively by the
Unionists, led by a provincial prime minister, and a
governor representing the British crown.
The Catholic minority in Northern Ireland was thus
completely excluded from influence on regional and local
affairs, and at the same time was subject to discrimination
in a number of other areas. This led to the development of a
strong Catholic civil rights movement in the 1960's.
Although the movement was based on non-violence, it was
perceived by the Protestants as a threat and therefore they
attacked it violently.
The riots therefore escalated and in April 1969 the
Government of Northern Ireland requested British troops to
protect the region's strategic points. In August, the
Protestant Northern Irish Government and London agreed that
all the region's security forces should be placed under
Dublin, Baile Átha Cliath, the capital of Ireland and the country's only
metropolis; it lies on the east coast at the mouth of Liffey in Dublin Bay. The
total metropolitan area (county) is 922 km2 with 1.0 million. (2002)
in the Greater Dublin Area.
Service and commerce are the main business of the city; about half of the
country's foreign trade is handled by the port. In addition, the city has a
large public administration. Ireland's largest private company and exporter, the
Guinness brewery, is one of several Dublin brewers that also has whiskey
distilleries as well as food and textile factories.
Old Dublin, located along Liffey and bounded by a ring road and two large
canals connecting to Western Ireland, has a low rise with houses of red brick
and gray sandstone. The district is part of a concentrated city area with large
monumental buildings and older Victorian markets. Characteristic are the many
pubs, often with live Irish folk music, the many towers and domes, works of art
in the streets and the numerous, beautiful street doors in strong colors.
Particularly south of Liffey are public monumental buildings close by: Leinster
House with Parliament of Ireland, National Library, National Gallery and
National Museum. In addition, Trinity College, Bank of Ireland, Dublin Castle
(now City Hall) and Protestant Cathedrals, Christ Church and St. Patrick's. To
the south is the newer University College Dublin and further to the west
Guinness's large brewery, Royal Hospital (now Art Museum) and Kilmanhaim Prison.
North of the river lies, among other things. Custom House (1792) and at the quay
court house Four Courts (1786) as well as the Catholic Provisional St. Mary's
Cathedral and many dilapidated and neglected residential houses from the 1700's.
There are only a few public monumental buildings from the 1800's; but wide
boulevards and streets, the many bridges over Liffey as well as the city's
railways, stations and canals testify to the great transport expansions of the
century. However, the DART electric expressway from Howth through Dublin to Bray
dates from 1983. The city is in the process of a major metro project, Luas, of
light rail/trams. The first tracks were laid in 2001 and the first lines
opened in 2004.
In addition, Dublin houses very large commercial and industrial buildings.
Brand new US-inspired malls are found in the suburbs and in satellite cities. In
Dún Laoghaire (formerly Kingstown) south of Dublin a port has been set up to
replace the old one at Liffey. Dublin International Airport is 11 km north of
the city center.
Dublin has many parks, the largest being Phoenix Park to the west, including
presidential residence, statues and cemetery with Irish heroes. After Ireland's
independence in 1919, many streets and squares have been renamed, most often
associated with the freedom struggle.
The time after World War II has radically changed Dublin. The municipality
undertook extensive remediation followed by relocations to massive and
monotonous high-rise and semi-detached housing in the suburbs, including in
Ballymun; later, better-quality residential neighborhoods were built, as well as
a number of housing units in the inner city areas. A much-disputed Corporation
Hall for the municipality's administration on Wood Quay hides the area on which
Dublin's largest Viking settlement has been located.
Dublin was founded by Danish Vikings in the 800-h. as a major trading town,
but after the defeat at Clontarf in 1014, the Vikings had to recognize the
supremacy of Irish princes. The English King Henry II's invasion in 1171-72 made
the city the capital of the fairly small part of Ireland (the Pale) controlled
by the English until 1650. After the English Civil War 1649, when the royalists
surrendered Dublin to Cromwell, there was rapid economic growth based on a
textile industry established by French and Flemish weavers, and the population
grew from 9,000 residents in 1660 to 130,000 in 1750 and 372,000 in 1841. In
1700-t. new neighborhoods were built with housing and public buildings, and the
city became an Anglo-Irish cultural center. around Trinity College (grd. 1592)
and author Jonathan Swift.
Dublin, however, was severely affected when, after the union with Britain in
1801, it was no longer the capital. Admittedly, after 1830, the new Catholic
middle class built its own churches, schools and universities (1854, now
University College Dublin), and the cultural struggle between Irish and
Anglo-Irish led to a literary renaissance; but the great Catholic underclass
lived in poverty in some of Europe's worst slums.
In 1916 Dublin was the center of the Easter rebellion, and during the bloody
showdown between the British and Irish guerrilla forces 1919-21, Dublin was in a
state of war, as was the case of murder and terror during and after the Irish
Civil War 1921-23. Despite Irish neutrality, Dublin was accidentally bombed by
the Germans in 1941.
Dublin celebrated its 1000th anniversary in 1988 and was European city of
culture in 1991. James Joyce portrays in the novel Ulysses (1922) Dublin on one
particular day, 16.6.1904.