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Living in Ireland

The History of Ireland

The history of Ireland is quite unusual, as is Ireland itself. We aren’t going to tell the full story of the chronological development of Ireland, but we will talk about the important stages in its history that strongly affected the whole country; since any county’s present wouldn’t be what it is now if it wasn’t for it past.

In Ireland, its historic image appeared a couple of thousand years before the ‘Birth of Christ’ which was presented by monuments made of stone (megaliths and dolmens) of the Neolithic era.

Newgrange and Knowth in Co. Meath. Actually one of the oldest lunar maps carved into stone was found in the dolmen located in Knowth.

Knowth is megalitic monument

The first important description of Ireland was recorded in the in the 2nd Century A.D/C.E by the historians of Rome (Tacitus) and Ancient Greece (Ptolemy), where they talk about some clans of Celts that appeared during 1st Century B.C/B.C.E.

From the 5th Century A.D/C.E, Ireland started to accept Christianity. This wasn’t entirely because of St. Patrick’s (who is regarded as the ‘baptizer’ of Ireland) services, but also the services of other famous saints , for example, St. Columba, St. Kevin etc.

At this time Ireland was divided into lots of small kingdoms. But the thing that is surprising is that in 697 A.D/C.E, in a place called Birr located in County Offaly, these kingdoms passed down the ‘Law of the innocents’. This law stated that during the time of a war it was illegal to kill women, children and priests. Taking into account the year in which this happened this really is quite surprising since, even now this law isn’t global.

Rock of Cashel

During that time Ireland was turning into a centre for monastic living and scholars from all over Europe ventured to the island of Iona. Now this island is part of Scotland. This era was called the ‘Golden Age’ of Ireland because during this time Ireland’s scholarly was superior to that of other European countries, since it was beginning to master working with metal, stone and making handmade books.

One of the most well preserved book that was made during this time is the ‘Book of Kells’, or as it also called, the ‘Book of Columba’ which was written in a Kells Abbey located in Co. Meath. It was written by St. Columba.

He probably started to write this book in the island of Iona, but because of the Viking raids the monks, led by St. Columba, ran off to Kells Abbey, where the book was finished (in 800 A.D/C.E). This is one of five existing verses of when and where this book was made.

Trinity College Dublin

Roughly during this time, there was an extremely large amount of Viking raids. This resulted in the destruction of many monastic settlements. To further increase there destructive power the Vikings built their own towns/settlements. This is how Dublin was first formed approximately in 988 A.D/C.E. Only in 1014 A.D/C.E did the united strength of Ireland, under the leadership of King Brian Boru defeat the Vikings at a battle in Clontarf.


Some time later Clontarf Castle was built there; it is now part of the city and has been transformed into a 4 star hotel.

But because of Brian Boru’s death during the battle the kingdoms that were in alliance with him drifted apart and were eventually taken over by the Normans. More over, one of the kings that helped Brian Boru defeat the Vikings asked the Normans to ‘help’ him maintain his kingdom, but when they came over the decided to ‘help’ themselves by taking over Ireland. When the Normans took over a place they built a castle there to serve as a stronghold, some of which, for example the Trim Castle, have been preserved until present day.

Trim Castle

By the XVI century the Normans had already mixed together with the Celts. But then Ireland was faced by another threat, since Great Brittan reinforced ruled over England it managed to take over Ireland. The person who managed to do this was King Henry VIII.

We will continue the History of Ireland in our next post.

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