Путь независимости Ирландии

XX Международный конкурс научно-исследовательских и творческих работ учащихся
Старт в науке

Путь независимости Ирландии

Денисова А.А. 1
1Селятинская СОШ номер 2
Сычёва А.Н. 1
1Селятинская СОШ номер 2
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Britain-Irish relations have always been of interest in the international area. Britain’s annexation of Ireland in the 12th century determined the further fate of Emerald Island. I have been learning English for nine years, so acquaintance with any language assumes familiarizing with the history and culture of the state. I have always been interested in the question why Northern Ireland is a part of Great Britain, but the Southern isn’t. It was the main reason why I had chosen this theme. I threw myself into the history of Irish centuries-old struggle for their independence to find out the root of the conflict. What’s more, this research shows the completeness of interethnic and ethno-religious conflicts. The problem of English-Irish relations interested Winston Churchill, prime minister of Great Britain (1940-1945,1951-1955). As a leader of the Conservative party, he stuck to inseparable Britain, but at the same time having Irish roots, he was supportive of the autonomy of Ireland and creating the Irish parliament ruling from Dublin. During the performance in Belfast said “History and poetry, justice and good sense, alike demand that this race, gifted, virtuous and brave, which has lived so long and endured so much should not, in view of her passionate desire, be shut out of the family of nations and should not be lost forever among indiscriminate multitudes of men.” [6] From this point we can clearly see a policy towards Irish people which was pursued by Churchill.  He saw the new relationship of Great Britain and Ireland as fostering “the federation of English-speaking peoples all over the world”. [1] But in my opinion, an aspiration of English people to convert non-English speaking peoples into English speaking is a root of British-Irish conflict. British authorities marked down political, economic and cultural Irish’s identity for centuries. Peculiarities of mental conditions of population on Emerald Island and features of their historical development weren’t considered by ruling layers. By the time of the conquest Irish had already had institutions, beliefs and common ideas which had made stable mental conditions of the race. This caused a negative reaction of the population to the terror of the Normans which became the centuries-old confrontation. It’s hard to disagree with J.G. Sims, according to him the basis of the conflict is “religion and land”. [7]

The aim: to learn economic and political sphere of Ireland during different stages its presence and development and restore the bright pages of Irish history on the way to its independence in English language. Tasks: to point out reasons led to the struggle for independence of the Irish; to learn the way of the Irish national liberation struggle; to find out results of the Irish national liberation struggle; to translate information in Russian into English. In such a way to replenish the English vocabulary. Hypothesis: Ireland as liberation state has a right to exist without dependence from England. Methods of organizing research work:

  • Learning and analysis of literature and Internet resources on the research topic;

  • Systematization of the material in the form of tables, diagrams;

  • Generalization of the material.

Chapter 1. From the history of Ireland.

    1. Ireland in ancient times

Let’s address to ancient times to see Ireland as the initial independence state. Celtic tribes appeared on the island in the sixth century BC, at the beginning of our Era they spread all over it. Subsequently, the Goidel language, a special dialect of the Celtic languages, was created. Cattle breeding and agriculture were the most essential activities for the Irish since ancient times. They bred cattle, horses, pigs, and sheep. By the fifth century AD Ireland had been separated into five major areas: Ulster, Connote, Manster, Southern and Northern Leinster.  Later Autonomous “Kingdoms” were created in these areas during the process of foundation of the state. Priests-magicians and soothsayers played an important role in social life. During the process of decomposition of the primitive communal system and the formation of feudal relations Christianity was catching on among the nobility. Nowadays we can use and observe different monuments of material culture: tools of labor, utensils, weapons, jewelry and   monuments of oral folk art-Irish legends. However, it was destined for the development of Ireland to be slowed down due to the expansion of the Normans. One more reason for decreasing economic activity was a conservation of subsistence farming (i.e. there was no process of separating handicraft from agriculture) and due to this, impossibility of developing commodity production. The domination of subsistence farming in Ireland promoted the maintaining of political fragmentation and autocracy of the leaders. [4]

Consequently, “The Emerald Island” had prerequisites for creating an independent national state, but a conservation of subsistence farming and frequent feuds which weakened the defense capability of the Island made this process impossible for Ireland of the 12th century.

1.2. How did the formation of English domination over Ireland occur?

When Ireland was filled with internal strife and was economically weak, it wasn't able to confront the invasion of such a strong neighbor as England. In 1158 the envoy of the English King Henry the Second Plantagenet visited Pope Adrian the Fourth to get permission to invade Ireland. The Pope let the Monarch subdue the island to establish order as the Church wanted.

The Anglo-Norman invasion happened at the end of the 12th century when Anglo-Normans gradually conquered and acquired Irish lands. So, Normans’ success was explained by military superiority, the absence of a unified opposition from the Irish people and support of the Catholic Church.

The result of such an invasion was an unprecedented Normans’ intervention in the internal and foreign policy of the island and the domination for the next 800 years.

1.3 Prerequisites of the War of independence.

Let’s look how the Irish’s situation changed after the Anglo-Norman conquest of them. Having created Ireland as a colony, Normans exterminated the local population and compromised their rights. In such a way Irish was rid of fertile lands, they were forbidden to speak their mother tongue, practiced their religion. As a consequence of this, it may be pointed out next statements: decreasing economic activity, slowing down cultural development of the island and formation of the new ruler layer consisted of Protestants, immigrants from England and Scotland. 

 In the moment of desperate decision, Irish people no one time got round to fight. So, they succeeded to found their own state - Irish Catholic Confederation, which existed for 7 years, as a result of the uprising in 1641 year. Striving to subdue the Irish again, Oliver Cromwell reached the Island with army in 1649. The Confederation fell down. Over 750 000 Irish were exterminated. 

    The next point of the island’s subduction was final accession of Ireland to Great Britain. In 1801 on the first of January the new state officially got the name “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”. 

  Irish history remembers many grief pages. One of them is connected with “The Great Famine” or “potato famine” which started in the beginning of 1845. The most fateful consequence of adopting the union of 1801 year was canceling duties and encouraging measures for promotion of Irish industry and trade according to Dublin parliament. Thousands of small farmers lived in extreme poverty, and for many of them growing potatoes was a prevention from the famine. The British government didn’t cease rent for the Irish at even such a difficult time. As a result, the population of Ireland reduced by 30 percent for 1841-1851. In the future, Ireland sufficiently lost the population: in between 1841-1901 the population size decreased two times. [1]  

  But in spite of all losses, the idea of the independent island and its people existed in the Irish’s conscience, and passive English politics in the moment of crisis just enhanced revolutionary minds. J.Mitchell wrote : «The great famine left hatred of England, that lives in irish pepople’s hearts to these days»

Chapter 2. The Irish War of Independence.

2.1. The Easter Rising.

The Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood (IRB) was formed in 1858, nine years after the end of “The Great Famine” (1845-1849). The main purpose of it was the establishment of the Republic of Ireland by means of the rebellion that was organized secretly. Later organizations appeared in Great Britain, USA, Canada and others. Underlying tasks of IRB were pointed out in « The Constitution of the Irish Volunteer » and were the following:

 1.To protect, support and guard the rights and freedoms common to all citizens of Ireland.

 2.To teach, instruct and equip the Irish volunteer forces, who are going to serve the interests of the Irish National Government when it is created.

 3.To unite the Irish of all beliefs, parties and classes on the Ireland service.

However, internal division of the organization occurred during the First World War. The Irish Volunteers were called up to fight on the side of England. Some of them enlisted in the British Army, others began to plan an armed uprising which is named in history as the Easter Rising. The rebellion was raised in Dublin by the leader Sir Roger Casement in 1916. The rebels soon failed because of the lack of strategic plan and ammunition. What’s more, the Easter Rising happened at that time when the revolutionary situation hadn’t still formed except flashes on the periphery. After the rebellion had been put down in 1916, the national liberation process continued to grow steadily.

2.2 The IRA

In 1918 a new crisis of English-Irish relations was seen. The law about the Irish military service was accepted by the British parliament, which caused a new wave of indignation of the Irish. To answer these actions of parliament radical Eamon de Valera as a leader of national party Sin Fein came out with full separation of Ireland instead of Dominion. In 1919 one hundred thousand members of the IRB were reorganized into the national army, which was named «The Irish Republican Army» (The IRA). The beginning of the formation of the military system was laid.

2.3 The beginning of the Irish War of Independence.

In 1918 Irish got 73 seats in the English Parliament. Hower, they refused to sit in it. On the 21st of January in 1919 73 deputies declared themselves the plenipotentiary Parliament of Ireland (Dáil) and adopted the declaration of the sovereignty of Ireland. They declared Ireland the Republic and demanded the immediate withdrawal of British troops from the territory of the newly adopted state. The Provisional Irish Republican Government was formed. The leader De Valera was elected as a president of the new Republic.

 The IRA commenced combat actions against the British Authorities in order to ensure security of the new state. In 1919 the Anti English armed uprising burst out in Dublin. Military success of the IRA led to disorganization of the British management system: the judicial system didn’t work, royal Irish police almost stopped functioning. What’s more, the creation of Irish statehood began. In 1919 the Cabinet of Ministers headed by De Valera was formed, Republican police and Republican courts were established under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In support of revolution alteration government bonds were issued. Also, taxes from the population were placed at the disposal of the Irish Government. Consequently, the beginning of the war was characterized as a strike and a guerrilla movement and also a successful construction of the Irish statehood.

2.4 The split of Ireland.

The Ireland history period from 1919 to 1921 is interesting for the split of the island into two flighted parts. While the guerrilla war was holding in the south and the central part of Ireland, on the 10th March, 1920 the Ulster Nationalist Council held a vote in Belfast, according to which the country was separated into two states with independent parliaments - Northern and Southern Ireland. On 21 June the same year, an armed conflict between supporters of the Shinn Fein Party and the Ulster nationalists got place in Belfast.

  Let’s address to the past to find out the reasons leading to these confrontations and lack of unity on the island. I would like to issue this question briefly as I am convinced that the problem of irredentism in Ireland and the special position of Ulster is worth to be described in particular research. The northern part of Ireland was developed economically better than southern - in many respects thanks to English efforts. As a result of it, the local aristocratic layer, which contained English and Scottish colonizers, was formed in those territories and Protestantism was adopted as the main religion there. That’s why the national liberation idea of the South was rejected by the North.

2.5 Full-scale war and its results.

After the Irish Parliament declared the War in March, 1921, the IRA went to full-scale combat operations against British troops. English introduced martial law in Cork in December. The number of victims grew. More than one thousand people including civilians were killed only during January-March, 1921. There were pogroms of scouts, arson of new state facilities and civilian buildings. Fighters occupied and burnt the Customs (the center of Local Government in Ireland). In such a way Ireland showed that the British government wasn’t effective. However, by July, 1921 most of the IRA units experienced a critical shortage of weapons and ammunition and the situation in Great Britain got worse because of frequent expenses on the war. Both sides had to realize that the protracted war didn't bring results to either side. 

 On the next day, 11 of June, the IRA stop combat actions. On the 11th of July, 1921 confrontation sides concluded a truce, discussions began that led to the signing of the Anglo-Irish treaty. On the 6th of December, 1921 Great Britain admitted Ireland as English dominion - Irish liberty state, concluded with it a compromise Anglo-Irish treaty. Irish side was headed by the minister of foreign affairs, Arthur Griffith and a minister of financial affairs, Michael Collins; British side was headed by the prime minister, Lloyd Jones and colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill.

   The content of the contract was as follows: [2]

  • Crown forces would withdraw from most of Ireland.

  • Ireland was to become a self-governing dominion of the British Empire, a status shared by Australia, Canada, Newfoundland, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa.

  • As with the other dominions, the King would be the Head of State of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) and would be represented by a Governor General. Members of the new free state's parliament would be required to take an Oath of Allegiance to the Irish Free State. A secondary part of the oath was to "be faithful to His Majesty King George V, His heirs and successors by law, in virtue of the common citizenship".

  • Northern Ireland (which had been created earlier by the Government of Ireland Act) would have the option of withdrawing from the Irish Free State within one month of the Treaty coming into effect.

 In such a way Ireland existed until 1937. Northern Ireland, created by the Fourth Home Rule Act in 1920, became a part of the UK provided that it may withdraw from the UK at any time. However, on the 16th of December the same year, on the day of ratification of Northern Ireland and Great Britain treaty the Irish leader Imon De Valera, a former supporter of the treaty, suddenly came out against reunion with the UK. It was a reason for a continuing conflict, which turned into a civil war. 

Chapter 3. The Irish Civil War

3.1. Reasons led to the Irish Civil War.

     The civil war between republicans and a new government, which supported a condition of dominion, burst out in the south of Ireland in 1922. In protest Imon de Valera rejected the post of the President and did not admit himself as a member who took part in creating the provisional government of the Free state. 

  The main reason led to the civil war was the existence of two rival armies on the Island - National Army, faithful to the government, and the IRA stood for complete independence.

The Battle of Dublin became the first confrontation, as a result, the government troops pushed the opposition to the south and west away from the capital. Then the government troops using English support heated the IRA troops from Cork-the center of republicans in the South. The IRA squads tried to continue the fight when they moved to the mountain regions of the country in August-September in 1922 but they could not attract the population to their side. Finally, the IRA was defeated because it had not constant political and social-economic program. On the 6th of December 1922 the Irish and British parliaments ratified a treaty signed a year before. On the 17th of December last squads of Britain troops left boards of Irish Free State. After winter, 27, April, 1923, de Valera put forward to the Government the conditions of ending the civil war in Ireland. The Cosgrave administration adopted his requirements. On the 30th of April de Valera gave an order to stop the armed struggle.

3.2. The Southern Ireland after the Irish Civil War.

In 1931, when the Statute of Westminster was adopted, the United Kingdom parliament refused from almost all its authorities to create laws for the Free State and other dominions. Dominions became fully sovereign states. In such a way, the Free State (The Southern State) was the first internationally recognized independent state. In 1932 articles of the peace treaty between Great Britain and Ireland of 1921, connected with monarch, Governor-General and legislative priority, were deleted from the Irish Constitution. Now the Free State government was able to change laws earlier adopted by Great Britain parliament. So, the words of the Irish financial minister, Michael Collins about that that the treaty of 1921 year «gives freedom for achieving freedom» became true. The eleventh Prime Minister of Ireland, Bertie Aher, said that the treaty legitimized the independence of Ireland in the eyes of the rest of the world. In 1926 Imon De Valera left Sinn Féin and created Fianna Fáil. Whereas Fianna Fáil was to become the dominant party in Irish politics, Sinn Féin became a small, isolated political party. In 1937 Imon De Valera developed the new Constitution which was adopted in a referendum in July the same year. The Free State stopped existing when the new Constitution entered into force on the 29th of July, then the new state was called « Ireland ». On the 18th of April, 1949 the law of 1948 about the Irish Republic admitted by the parliament came into force. That law described Ireland as the Republic of Ireland but didn’t change the country’s name. The international and diplomatic functions previously belonging to the King were now entrusted to the President of Ireland who finally became the head of the Irish State. According to the rules of the Commonwealth in force at that time, the proclamation of the republic automatically terminated the state's membership in the British Commonwealth. That event finally commemorated the end of the long term and bloody fight already in Southern Ireland for the independence actions, maintaining national and ideological independence. In 1973, Ireland became a member of the European Union and received $84 billion in net transfers from European subsidies, which is a gigantic figure for a country with a population of 4.2 million people. Joining of Ireland to the European Union promoted to increasing of its role in international relations and development of the national economy.

Chapter 4. The Emerald Island in our days.

The Emerald Island is still separated into two parts: Ireland and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland-administrative and political part of the United Kingdom situated in the north-eastern part of the island of Irish and covered 13,843 square km, which is approximately 16,5 % of its total area. The capital and the major city of Northern Ireland is Belfast. According to the still valid Act of the Crown of Ireland of 1542 the English monarchs hold the post of the state in Northern Ireland by means of personal union. After the formation of the independent Republic of Ireland in 1948 Northern Ireland acquired the status of a dominion under the Ireland Act 1949. At the same time Northern Ireland is the only part of Great Britain that constitutionally in accordance with the Belfast Agreement of 1988, which canceled the previously valid Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1922, has the right to secession by a nationwide referendum. The ethnic composition of the population isn’t constant: there are approximately 500 thousand indigenous people of the Island- Irish Catholics and approximately 1 million Anglo-Irish and Scotland-Irish. Most of them are Protestants and British according to the culture and tradition. They stand with the idea of maintaining constitutional connection with the British Crown. Others are Catholics and culturally and historically Irish. They come out with the union with the Republic of Ireland. Official languages in Northern Ireland except of English are Irish and Ulster-Scottish according to the Belfast Agreement in 1998. Northern Ireland is still a territory with a tense social and political situation due to ethnic and religious differences of the population. 

Nowadays Ireland is a state with an area of 70,2 thousand quarter km with a Republican form of government of the parliamentary type. Dublin is the capital. The modern foreign policy of the Republic of Ireland mainly caused by its membership in the European Union, although bilateral relations with the United Kingdom are also important for the country. Ireland strives to independence external politic that’s why it isn’t a member of NATO and implements a policy of military neutrality for a long time. Official state languages are Irish and English. The Irish Government takes measures for substitution the resurgent Irish language instead of English. Irish is learned in schools as a necessary subject and used on national TV and radio. Christianity predominates among other religions, among churches-Catholics. The Constitution of Ireland proclaims that the state can’t support any of religions, and guarantees freedom of religion. By the beginning of the 21st century the key sectors of the Irish economy were: pharmaceuticals, medical equipment manufacturing, information and multimedia technologies, mechanical engineering, food industry. Among the manufacturing industries, the food and beverage industry occupy a significant share. Beer, whiskey, dairy and meat products, flour, sugar, tobacco products and other goods of important export meaning. 

Ireland is rich in minerals such as zinc (9 million tons), lead ( 1.7 million tons),silver (1 million tons), barite (1 million tons), there are also proven reserves of gold (5 thousand tons), copper ( 110 thousand tons), coal (29 million tons) and natural gas ( 20 billion m3). Livestock plays a leading role in Irish agriculture: it accounts for about 80% of GDP in this sector of the economy. Over the past 20 years, there has been a decline in the volume of economic ties: so in 1983, Ireland’s exports to the United Kingdom were 38% and imports from there were 49%; by 2005 these figures had fallen to 18% and 34% respectively.


In such a way Ireland was able to reach an economic and political independence from its large neighbor - Great Britain, and save its cultural and national identity, though has endured a split of the island. National liberation movement, high rise of patriotism among citizens, the presence of certain means of fighting, motives and its goals became the main reasons for reaching independence. One of the most significant representatives of the liberation movement Michael Collins during the contractual agreements said: « Give us the future, we’ve had enough of your past. Give us back our country, to live in, to grow in, to love. » So, it happened. Now the Irish live and grow up on their historical territory. Despite the fact that the Celtic people lived through numerous tragic events for centuries of history, a lively sense of humor is still characteristic for them. History gives the Irish strength and faith in their nation. They appreciate and cherish traditions, and honor their heroes. It is said the Irish have «a heightened sense of historicism » and strongly pronounced « awareness of their nationality ». The Irish did not turn into closed and gloomy people with all the difficulties they had to go through. In contrast, they are very cordial and open people. This is evidenced by their extraordinary friendliness and hospitality.

List of used literature.

  1. История Ирландии / Л.И. Гольман – М.: Книга по Требованию,

2021 – 392 с.

  1. Кангун, С. И. Ирландское освободительное движение последней

трети XIX в. в русской историографии и публицистике / С. И. Кангун. –

Ленинград: Наука, 1987 – 252 c.

  1. Мирошников, А. В. Идеология и практика ирландского

национального движения (1840–1860-х гг.): специальность 07.00.03

«Всеобщая история»: автореферат диссертации на соискание ученой степени

кандидата исторических наук / Мирошников А. В.; Воронежский

государственный университет. – Воронеж, 1996 – 36 c.

  1. Русяев, К. В. История англо-ирландского противостояния в XII–

XIX веках / К. В. Русяев, М. А. Омельницкий. – Текст : непосредственный //

Молодой ученый. – 2022 – № 6 (401). – С. 254-257.

  1. Сапрыкин, Ю. М. Английское завоевание Ирландии XII – XVII

вв. / Ю. М. Сапрыкин. – Москва: Высшая школа, 1982 – 176 c.

Application 1

Illustration 1. Monument of material culture of the Irish.

Application 2

Table 1 – Prerequisites and contradictions of the formation of the Irish state.

Prerequisites for formation of the independent state:

Contradictions that accompanied the formation of the Irish state:

single Celtic language for the entire population

Lack of centralized authority

Favorable geographical location of the island for farming and cattle breeding

Frequent feuds and land ruin

development of national culture

maintaining subsistence farming

the Rise of Christianity (Catholicism)

weak defense capability of the country

Application 3

Table 2 – Population of Ireland:



1641 year

1,5 million

1652 year

850 thousand (750 thousand of Irish)

Application 4

Illustration 2. Signatures of representatives of the parties under the agreement

Application 5

Illustration 3. The flag of Northern Ireland

Illustration 4. The coat of arms of Northern Ireland

Illustration 5. The flag of Ireland

Illustration 6. The coat of arms of Ireland

Application 5

Illustration 7. Celtic population growth for 1960-2022 year.

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