The Radical History of Ireland

Ireland and Britain have waged war for generations with the conflict elevating as an Irish sense of nationalism developed and matured. The Irish dreamt of a united, self-governed nation, but Britain was unwilling to grant uncontrolled independence. In the partition of 1921, the Republic of Ireland was created from 26 counties and operated as an independent entity. The six remaining counties formed Northern Ireland which is still under British rule and considered part of the United Kingdom.

Irish relationships and cultural differences gave rise to civil unrest and upheavals. Religious dissimilarities pitted Catholic against Protestant, and countless Catholics experienced years of discrimination and social and economic disparity.

Cultural conflicts and isolationist approaches like segregating children and communities bred distrust, aggression, and turmoil. As a consequence, the historic record shows a massive loss of human lives and livelihoods in the aftermath of the radical and violent history of Ireland.

Key Events

Two essential episodes in the intense history of Ireland are the Easter rebellion of 1916 and Bloody Sunday. Easter 1916 is an extremely dominant event in Ireland's troubled history. The uprising took place in Dublin, Ireland when an army of 1,500 Irish revolutionaries made a bid for independence from the British.

Led by Commander-General James Connolly, the Irish Citizens Army (ICA) attacked and captured several strategic locations. A provisional government formed and headquartered at the General Post Office. P. H. Pearse was appointed president, and an Irish Proclamation of Independence was drafted and ratified. The insurrection was quickly conquered by British troops, and 16 rebel leaders were eventually executed, including Connolly and Pearse. Although the Easter rebellion was considered a military failure, it provided a blood sacrifice and focused rebels on sustained efforts to win independence for Ireland.

Bloody Sunday, January 30, 1972, was a horrific slaughter of unarmed innocents in the course of a protest. During a civil rights march by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), and with no discernible provocation by protestors, British soldiers massacred 13 people and wounded 13 others. The soldiers asserted they were attacked by members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), but these claims were never fully confirmed.

Key Players

Three of the men who played key parts in the radical history of Ireland are: James Connolly, Michael Collins, and Patrick Pearse. While they did not concur on every issue, their lives were interwoven by a common factor of national allegiance to a united and independent Ireland.

Connelly was a former British soldier who founded the Irish Citizens Army (ICA) and campaigned for the socialization of Ireland. He was executed by a British firing squad in 1916.

Collins led the Sinn Fein movement and was influential in negotiations like the Anglo-Irish treaty to partition Ireland. Commander-in-Chief of the IRA, he was renowned for innovative guerilla fighting techniques, but was killed by the IRA in 1922.

Poet, educator, artist, and politician, Pearse was willing to die for Ireland. He founded the Irish Volunteers and was appointed president during the Easter Rebellion of 1916. His execution following the uprising made him one of the first Irish rebellion leaders killed.

Key Organizations

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was founded in 1919 by Irish Volunteers survivors from the Easter 1916 conflict. Their objective was reclaiming Northern Ireland and reuniting it with the other counties to form a united Ireland.

The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) mission was the socialization of Ireland. This group aligned and shared views with the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), and was formed in 1974.

In 1970, the IRA split and the Sein Fein was formed as a political party supporting Republicans. Their goal was a unified self-governing Ireland. The radical history of Ireland, like many other counties, contains stories of heroes and battles won or lost. The common thread running through its history is the profound loyalty and national spirit of the Irish.

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