Northern Ireland

Geir Neverdal, Lektor at Otta vidaregåande skole

This is intended for use in my "grunnkurs" class of the upper secondary school in Norway .

I will try to list, and explain, some of the problems/terms met with when we read texts about Northern Ireland. I am presenting an outsider's view, based on what I have read and heard. Opinions differ as to causes and effects in this conflict and it is important that you consult other sources as well - with a critical but open mind.

To see a big map of Ireland click here.

Click here for a large map of Ireland.
Expediamaps .

Very good maps of Ireland can be found at this website:

a service where you may download free maps of Ireland.
To find a place, use
Expediamaps .


Some dates in Irish history.

You may read more about Irish history here


8000-7000?  BC


Various Palaeolithic tribes (users of flint) probably first inhabited Ireland a few thousand years BC.


5th century BC

Ireland is mentioned under the name of Ierne in a Greek poem of the 5th century BC.


C. 700 - 100 BC

The Celtic invasion

introduced a new culture (language, customs, and religion) into Ireland.

(The island was never part of the Roman Empire.)



St. Patrick dies

The Apostle of Ireland (also called the patron saint of Ireland) spent much of his life converting the Irish to Christianity but it took some time after his death (about 461) before the new faith was fully established in the island.

The Irish celebrate their most important national holiday "St Patrick's Day" on the 17 of March.


C. 800

Viking invasions begin

(- a map showing Viking settlements and plundered and surviving monasteries will be shown if you click on the icon to the right).


Ireland and the Vikings.


The English

English knights took control of an area around Dublin.


Ireland and Irish kingdoms about 1014  -  before the English arrived.


The English monarchs started a systematic conquest of Ireland


Ireland 1450.  Land held by: 1) Native Irish  2) Anglo-Irish Lords  3) The English King.Ireland 1500.

1607 -


The Ulster Plantation

The English began a policy of immigration when two Irish earls fled from Ulster because they feared the English would arrest them for treason. Most of the land of their tribes was given to Scottish and English settlers.

(This is the reason why there are two large groups of religious affiliation in N.I. today - a Protestant majority and a Catholic minority.)


Under Cromwell (who was strongly anti-Catholic):

The English continued a policy of confiscating land from the Irish nobility e.g. on the rich soil in Ulster (Northern Ireland) and Munster (The South of Ireland). Much of this land was given to English Lords and ex-soldiers.


Ireland 1700. - A map that shows ownership of land in 1641 (before Cromwell) - and in 1703 (some decades after Cromwell).



The English King William III (of Orange) crushed the Catholic rebellion in the Battle of the Boyne

(a victory celebrated in Northern Ireland every year on the 12th of July by the Protestant Orange Order – in July members of this Order arrange marches into Catholic areas to intimidate them – accompanied by drums and a lot of noise)



The Dublin Parliament was abolished – Union between England and Ireland established.



The Great Famine

(A potato disease - Phytophthora infestans - ruined the crops)

Terrible starvation - about one million people starved to death
And over two million fled the country – one half to the USA

The English government reacted insufficiently and too slowly to help.

English landowners at the same time exported grain from Ireland.



The Easter Rising in Dublin.

It was quickly crushed and most of the leaders were executed. This rebellion led to the formation of The Irish Republican Army (IRA)



Partition - Ireland is divided

After a war of Independence The Irish Free State was established -  but they had to stay in the Commonwealth and Northern Ireland (Ulster) remained part of the UK.



Eire was established as a “sovereign independent democratic state”. (Eamon De Valera was Ireland's first Prime Minister)


Ireland left the Commonwealth



Civil Rights movement
Police attack Civil Rights demonstrators i Londonderry. This marks the post war start of the unrest in N. Ireland.



NEXT ...



This is mostly based on information found in NRK-programs for upper secondary schools
(The Norwegian broadcasting company "Norsk Rikskringkasting)  
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia,
The Norwegian national newspaper Aftenposten (articles)
some www -sites e.g.:
BBC 's Peace Process Timeline
Richard Herrmann's books
and various textbooks for Norwegian upper secondary schools  
Let me know if you find mistakes.




fra den eldre steinalder





Commonwealth (of Nations)

Today a loose association of countries - mostly former British colonies (Previously: The British Commonwealth / The British Empire).

Consists of 51 sovereign nations and several dependencies.

Sovereign nations:

Great Britain, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Western Samoa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The Union (now Republic) of South Africa withdrew from the Commonwealth in 1961, but rejoined in 1994.

Pakistan left the Commonwealth in 1972, but became a member again in 1989.

Fiji withdrew in 1987.

The Republic of Ireland is associated with it for commercial purposes but is not a member.





patron saint




kloster (for menn)









konfiskere, beslaglegge, ta





the Battle of the Boyne

This battle was fought near the Boyne river about 50 km north of Dublin on July 1st 1690.


Irish (Catholics):
The former King James II of England who was trying to win back the English throne had joined forces with the Irish - they had about 21,000 men.


English (Protestants):
The new English King William III of Orange with about 35,000 men.


The army of William III of Orange (the Protestants) won.


The N.I. Protestants celebrate the victory every year (on the 12 of July though).

The Protestant organisation: The Orange Order (established in 1795), was named after William III of Orange.






avskaffe, fjerne



Geir Neverdal