British rule in Ireland

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Lordship of Ireland in pink in around 1300; Areas outside of that remained independent kingdoms Lordship of Ireland, 1300.png
Lordship of Ireland in pink in around 1300; Areas outside of that remained independent kingdoms

British rule in Ireland spanned several centuries and involved British control of parts, or entirety, of the island of Ireland. British involvement in Ireland began with the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169. Most of Ireland gained independence from Great Britain following the Anglo-Irish War. Initially formed as a Dominion called the Irish Free State in 1922, the Republic of Ireland became a fully independent republic following the passage of the Republic of Ireland Act in 1949. Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom as a constituent country. [1]


Middle Ages

Map of areas of influence in Ireland c. 1450 Ireland 1450.png
Map of areas of influence in Ireland c.1450

From the late 12th century, the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland resulted in Anglo-Norman control of much of Ireland, over which the kings of England then claimed sovereignty. [2] [3] By the late Late Middle Ages, Anglo-Norman control was limited to an area around Dublin known as the Pale. [4]

Enacted in 1494, Poynings law ensured that the Irish parliament could not meet without the approval of England's monarch and Privy Council. [4] In 1541, English king Henry VIII changed Ireland's status from a lordship to a kingdom, and he was proclaimed King of Ireland. [4]

Plantation and rebellion

Map of Ulster, highlighting areas subject to British plantations Plantation of Ulster.png
Map of Ulster, highlighting areas subject to British plantations

The Ulster Plantation began in the 16th century and involved the settling of English and Scottish Protestants in Ulster. [3]

Coinciding largely with the Eleven Years' War, the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland was led by Oliver Cromwell between 1649 and 1651, resulting in the confiscation of land from many native landowners and regranting to Parliamentarian supporters.

Introduced in the 17th century, the Penal Laws outlawed the Catholic clergy and precluded Catholics in Ireland from owning or leasing land above a certain value, accessing higher education and certain professions, and gave primacy to the established church and the Church of Ireland. [4] While these laws were later eased, including by the Treaty of Limerick which followed the Williamite War in Ireland (1688–1691), by 1778 Catholics still held only around 5% of land in Ireland. [4]

18th and 19th centuries

Theobald Wolfe Tone, one of the leaders of the United Irishmen Portrait of Theobald Wolfe Tone.PNG
Theobald Wolfe Tone, one of the leaders of the United Irishmen

The United Irishmen Rebellion of 1798 (which sought to end British rule in Ireland) failed, and the 1800 Act of Union merged the Kingdom of Ireland into a combined United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. [4]

In the mid-19th century, the Great Famine (1845-1851) resulted in the death or emigration of over two million people. At the time, trade agreements were controlled by the British government and whilst hundreds of thousands were suffering from hunger, Irish dairy products and wheat harvests were exported to Britain and other overseas territories. [4]

Independence and partition

A Home Rule Bill was passed in 1912 but not brought into law due to the outbreak of World War I in 1914. The Easter Rising of 1916 resulted in the execution of the rebellion's leaders. In the 1918 Irish general election, Sinn Féin won a majority of Irish seats and in 1919 these elected MPs declared the independence of the Irish Republic. The Irish War of Independence followed from 1919 to 1921. The Government of Ireland Act of 1920 and the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 resulted in the formation of the Irish Free State, while Northern Ireland's MPs opted out to form Northern Ireland. [4]

See also

Related Research Articles

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state in the British Isles that existed between 1801 and 1922, when it included all of Ireland. It was established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland into a unified state. The establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 led to the remainder later being renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monarchy of Ireland</span> Historical method of government in Ireland

Monarchical systems of government have existed in Ireland from ancient times. In the south this continued until the early twentieth century, when it transitioned to the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, remains under a monarchical system of government.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingdom of Ireland</span> English client state on the island of Ireland between 1542 and 1801

The Kingdom of Ireland was a monarchy on the island of Ireland that was a client state of England and then of Great Britain. It existed from 1542 until 1801. It was ruled by the monarchs of England and then of Great Britain, and administered from Dublin Castle by a viceroy appointed by the English king: the Lord Deputy of Ireland. It had a parliament, composed of Anglo-Irish and native nobles. From 1661 until 1801, the administration controlled an army. A Protestant state church, the Church of Ireland, was established. Although styled a kingdom, for most of its history it was, de facto, an English dependency. This status was enshrined in Poynings' Law and in the Declaratory Act of 1719.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Irish nationalism</span> Political movement asserting the sovereignty of the Irish people

Irish nationalism is a nationalist political movement which, in its broadest sense, asserts that the people of Ireland should govern Ireland as a sovereign state. Since the mid-19th century, Irish nationalism has largely taken the form of cultural nationalism based on the principles of national self-determination and popular sovereignty. Irish nationalists during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries such as the United Irishmen in the 1790s, Young Irelanders in the 1840s, the Fenian Brotherhood during the 1880s, Fianna Fáil in the 1920s, and Sinn Féin styled themselves in various ways after French left-wing radicalism and republicanism. Irish nationalism celebrates the culture of Ireland, especially the Irish language, literature, music, and sports. It grew more potent during the period in which all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, which led to most of the island gaining independence from the UK in 1922.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingdom of England</span> Historic kingdom on the British Isles

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, until 1 May 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

The Ulster Scots, also called Ulster Scots people or Scotch-Irish (Scotch-Airisch), are an ethnic group in Ireland, who speak an Ulster Scots dialect of the Scots language, a West Germanic language, and share a common history, culture and ancestry. As an ethnicity, they diverged from largely the same ancestors as those of modern English people, and Lowland Scots people, native to Northern England, and Lowland Scotland, respectively.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parliament of Ireland</span> Former parliament of Ireland

The Parliament of Ireland was the legislature of the Lordship of Ireland, and later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1297 until 1800. It was modelled on the Parliament of England and from 1537 comprised two chambers: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Lords were members of the Irish peerage and bishops. The Commons was directly elected, albeit on a very restricted franchise. Parliaments met at various places in Leinster and Munster, but latterly always in Dublin: in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Chichester House (1661–1727), the Blue Coat School (1729–31), and finally a purpose-built Parliament House on College Green.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the British Isles</span> Historical development of the British Isles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Williamite War in Ireland</span> 1689–91 conflict between supporters of rival claimants to the British throne

The Williamite War in Ireland, was a conflict between Jacobite supporters of deposed monarch James II and Williamite supporters of his successor, William III. It is also called the Jacobite War in Ireland, Williamite Conquest of Ireland, or the Williamite–Jacobite War in Ireland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Ireland (1801–1923)</span> Irish history between the Acts of Union of 1800 and the formation of the Irish Free State in 1921

Ireland under British rule Refers to when Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1801 to 1922. For almost all of this period, the island was governed by the UK Parliament in London through its Dublin Castle administration in Ireland. Ireland underwent considerable difficulties in the 19th century, especially the Great Famine of the 1840s which started a population decline that continued for almost a century. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a vigorous campaign for Irish Home Rule. While legislation enabling Irish Home Rule was eventually passed, militant and armed opposition from Irish unionists, particularly in Ulster, opposed it. Proclamation was shelved for the duration following the outbreak of World War I. By 1918, however, moderate Irish nationalism had been eclipsed by militant republican separatism. In 1919, war broke out between republican separatists and British Government forces. Subsequent negotiations between Sinn Féin, the major Irish party, and the UK government led to the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which resulted in five-sixths of Ireland seceding from the United Kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plantations of Ireland</span> British colonisation of Ireland

Plantations in 16th- and 17th-century Ireland involved the confiscation of Irish-owned land by the English Crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from Great Britain. The Crown saw the plantations as a means of controlling, anglicising and 'civilising' Gaelic Ireland. The main plantations took place from the 1550s to the 1620s, the biggest of which was the plantation of Ulster. The plantations led to the founding of many towns, massive demographic, cultural and economic changes, changes in land ownership and the landscape, and also to centuries of ethnic and sectarian conflict. They took place before and during the earliest English colonisation of the Americas, and a group known as the West Country Men were involved in both Irish and American colonization.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Normans in Ireland</span> Medieval ethnic group in Ireland

From the 12th century onwards, a group of Normans invaded and settled in Gaelic Ireland. These settlers later became known as Norman Irish or Hiberno-Normans. They originated mainly among Cambro-Norman families in Wales and Anglo-Normans from England, who were loyal to the Kingdom of England, and the English state supported their claims to territory in the various realms then comprising Ireland. During the High Middle Ages and Late Middle Ages the Hiberno-Normans constituted a feudal aristocracy and merchant oligarchy, known as the Lordship of Ireland. In Ireland, the Normans were also closely associated with the Gregorian Reform of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Over time the descendants of the 12th-century Norman settlers spread throughout Ireland and around the world, as part of the Irish diaspora; they ceased, in most cases, to identify as Norman, Cambro-Norman or Anglo-Norman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Ireland (1536–1691)</span> Aspect of history

Ireland during the period 1536–1691 saw the first full conquest of the island by England and its colonization with mostly Protestant settlers from Great Britain. This would eventually establish two central themes in future Irish history: subordination of the country to London-based governments and sectarian animosity between Catholics and Protestants. The period saw Irish society outside of the Pale transform from a locally driven, intertribal, clan-based Gaelic structure to a centralised, monarchical, state-governed society, similar to those found elsewhere in Europe. The period is bounded by the dates 1536, when King Henry VIII deposed the FitzGerald dynasty as Lords Deputies of Ireland, and 1691, when the Catholic Jacobites surrendered at Limerick, thus confirming Protestant dominance in Ireland. This is sometimes called the early modern period.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Ireland (1691–1800)</span>

The history of Ireland from 1691–1800 was marked by the dominance of the Protestant Ascendancy. These were Anglo-Irish families of the Anglican Church of Ireland, whose English ancestors had settled Ireland in the wake of its conquest by England and colonisation in the Plantations of Ireland, and had taken control of most of the land. Many were absentee landlords based in England, but others lived full-time in Ireland and increasingly identified as Irish.. During this time, Ireland was nominally an autonomous Kingdom with its own Parliament; in actuality it was a client state controlled by the King of Great Britain and supervised by his cabinet in London. The great majority of its population, Roman Catholics, were excluded from power and land ownership under the penal laws. The second-largest group, the Presbyterians in Ulster, owned land and businesses but could not vote and had no political power. The period begins with the defeat of the Catholic Jacobites in the Williamite War in Ireland in 1691 and ends with the Acts of Union 1800, which formally annexed Ireland in a United Kingdom from 1 January 1801 and dissolved the Irish Parliament.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Formation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland</span> Territorial evolution of the UK

The formation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has involved personal and political union across Great Britain and the wider British Isles. The United Kingdom is the most recent of a number of sovereign states that have been established in Great Britain at different periods in history, in different combinations and under a variety of polities. Historian Norman Davies has counted sixteen different states over the past 2,000 years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Ireland</span> History of the island and its population, from 12000 years ago to the present

The first evidence of human presence in Ireland dates to around 33,000 years ago, with further findings dating the presence of homo sapiens to around 10,500 to 7,000 BC. The receding of the ice after the Younger Dryas cold phase of the Quaternary around 9700 BC, heralds the beginning of Prehistoric Ireland, which includes the archaeological periods known as the Mesolithic, the Neolithic from about 4000 BC and the Copper Age beginning around 2500 BC with the arrival of the Beaker Culture. The Irish Bronze Age proper begins around 2000 BC and ends with the arrival of the Iron Age of the Celtic Hallstatt culture, beginning about 600 BC. The subsequent La Tène culture brought new styles and practices by 300 BC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Protestantism in Ireland</span> Religious community

Protestantism is a Christian minority on the island of Ireland. In the 2011 census of Northern Ireland, 48% (883,768) described themselves as Protestant, which was a decline of approximately 5% from the 2001 census. In the 2011 census of the Republic of Ireland, 4.27% of the population described themselves as Protestant. In the Republic, Protestantism was the second largest religious grouping until the 2002 census in which they were exceeded by those who chose "No Religion". Some forms of Protestantism existed in Ireland in the early 16th century before the English Reformation, but demographically speaking these were very insignificant and the real influx of Protestantism began only with the spread of the English Reformation to Ireland. The Church of Ireland was established by King Henry VIII of England, who had himself proclaimed as King of Ireland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Irish Army (1661–1801)</span> Military unit

The Irish Army or Irish establishment, in practice called the monarch's "army in Ireland" or "army of Ireland", was the standing army of the Kingdom of Ireland, a client state of England and subsequently of Great Britain. It existed from the early 1660s until merged into the British Army in 1801, and for much of the period was the largest force available to the British monarchy, being substantially larger than the English and Scottish establishments.

The issue of Ireland has been a major one in British politics, intermittently so for centuries. Britain's attempts to control and administer the island, or parts thereof, has had significant consequences for British politics, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. Although nominally autonomous until the end of the 18th century, Ireland became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the history of the British Isles:


  1. Stamp, Gavin (8 April 2014). "Britain and Ireland: A brief history". Archived from the original on 26 May 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2020.; "A republic in name but constitutional conundrums remain". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 21 January 2021. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  2. Canny, Nicholas (1998). The Origins of Empire, The Oxford History of the British Empire Volume I. Oxford University Press. p. 7. ISBN   978-0-19-924676-2. Archived from the original on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  3. 1 2 Kenny, Kevin (2006). Ireland and the British Empire. Oxford University Press. p. 5. ISBN   978-0-19-925184-1. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Culture & Society - A Brief History of Ireland". Crosscare Information and Advocacy Services. Retrieved 16 November 2022.