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Ireland: an age-old

M.P.G. seminar, Mont-Tremblant, Québec Feb. 2008/
Grégoire Tersakian
m and
Selected dates in Irish history
• 1st century: The celts (Gaels ) rule the island and divide it into several kingdoms
• 432 a.d. Saint Patrick arrives and brings christianity.
• Norman rule in the middle ages
• 1348: the Black Death arrives
• 1603: Complete British conquest of Ireland. 600,000 people die during Cromwell conquest
• 17th century: massive English and Scottish settlers arrive: ‘plantations’ colonisation start, mostly in
Northern Ireland (Ulster). The protestants get more and more power, land and wealth. Catholics are
displaced and dispossessed. The tensions start, but protestants have upper hand already.
• 1641: Irish rebellion
• 1690: Battle of the Boyne. William III of Orange defeats the ‘catholic’ James II of England at
Drogheda. 1801: The British and Irish parlements are ‘united’, crushing the Irish voice.
• 1840: The Great Famine (potato). The island is devastated. One million die, mostly catholics from the
southers provinces and one million others emigrate all over the world.
• Daniel O’connell starts the catholic emancipation crusade, demands right and recognition.
• 1916-1919: Easter rising and war of Independance (mostly in the south). Republicans mean business
and they want their independence.
• 1920: the island is divided into two: Free state in the 26 counties (Republic, Dublin as capital). The
Northern six counties forming with Belfast as capital remain part of the United kingdom, with a
protestant majority loyal to London.
• 1921 Ratification of the Anglo-Irish treaty and Irish Civil war over the treaty.
• 1922 Irish Free State
• 1920-1970: The North politics and power are dominated by the protestants. Catholics are mostly
suppressed in many aspects from social housing to jobs and government.
• 1969-1970: The Troubles in the North begin over Civil rights. Battle of the ‘Bogside’ in Derry.
• 1972: Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry. British troops openly cooperate with Unionists. The North is
directly ruled from London as the NI ‘government’ in Stormont collapses after events escalate.
• 1980/81: The hunger strikes by republican prisoners over civil and political rights.
• 1998: the Belfast (Good Friday) agreements are signed for new power sharing in NI. Catholics and
Protestants sit together to rule Northern Ireland. The ceasefire still holds.
Irish Republican Historical Leaders

Arthur Griffith
1972-1922, The Dublin General Post Office on Parnell 1846-
founder of Sinn O’Connell street, main theater of the Easter 1891, important
Fein, head of Irish Rising 1916 against the British rule. Irish political
delegation during
thinker and
Anglo-Irish treaty
rights advocate
Early I.R.A.

l 1775- Michael Collins,
1847 1890-1922, chief
Chief Eamon de Valera Cathal Bruga strategist of the
advocate 1882-1975 major 1874-1922, Uprising. Killed
of figure in the Chief of Staff during civil war
Catholic uprising, president I.R.A Killed in over Anglo-Irish
emancipat of Irish Republic the Irish civil Treaty by forces
The Troubles: Northern Ireland Unrest and Civil War 1968-1998
• Start with decades old grievences of the catholics – civil, social and political mass and systematic
segregation and domination by the protestant dominated government and power structure in NI, supported by
the British (collusion).
• The Derry (Londonderry) civil rights protest escalate, culminating with the Battle of the ‘Bogside’ Derry, where
the real modern ‘troubles’ start (August 1969).

• 1972:Bloody Sunday (Sunday Bloody Sunday) 26 catholic civil rights protesters are shot dead by British
soldiers in Derry. The world is shocked, the violence reached its peak.The NI government and parlement
almost collapses.

• in 1973. The country is at the brink of total civil war. Sunningdale agreement brings just temporary relief. The
violence continues. Real reform is very far. Both sides arm themselves with heavy weapons and the tension

• 1980/81: The catholic prisoners protests reaches an international crisis point. The Republican prisoners
demand political status and human rights and go on hunger strike. The entire world follows the events. After a
few weeks Bobby Sands is the first to die in H-Blocks followed by nine other PIRA/INLA prisoners, shaming
the British and the Unionist government. The British government considered them as terrorist petty criminals,
while most of the world seems to disagree with that view.

• 1980’s: The Sinn Fein under Tony Adams emerges as the new political voice of the Republican side from
under the IRA. The ‘Armalite in one hand and the Ballot Box in the other’ strategic policy is adopted,
formulated mainly by Danny Morrison. The IRA shows it is ready for political business and power sharing at
Stormont Parliement but still not sending their elected officials to Westminster, London (abstentionism).

• 1998: The Good Friday agreements are signed and the power sharing is achieved between the two sides and
approved by two referenda, one in the North and in the Irish Republic.

• REPUBLICAN / mostly Catholic: IRA, Provisional IRA, Real IRA, Continuity IRA, INLA and
other political, social and groups.

• LOYALIST / Mostly protestants: Ulster Volunteer Forces, Ulster Defense Association, Ulster
Defense Regiment and various other groups, mostly supported by the NI government, the
security forces and the British Army.

• 3500 or more dead:
• 1855 civilians
• 1125 security forces
• 520 british soldiers / navy /army /air force
• 394 Republican catholic activist/fighters
• 197 NI (protestant dominated) police
• 151 Protestant / Unionist activist/fighters
• 24 prison guards

• 47,000 people were injured and received
• 37,000 shootings
• 22,500 armed robberies during the
• 19,600 people were imprisoned
• 16,200 bombings
• Billions of dollars of damage both in
Ireland and the UK with terror bombings.
Belfast, the Harland and
Wolff Shipyards: A powewrful
bastion of protestant power
and wealth. The Titanic was
built here, among others.
Northern Ireland modern-day politicians, Clockwise from left: Ian Paisley, David Hume, Martin McGuiness,
Danny Morrison, David Trimble, Sir Reg Empey. The Protestant Unionist and Republican Catholic
communities are still divided. ‘Peace’ walls are built between Republican Falls Road and Unionist Shankill.

Northern Ireland’s
parliement building
(Stormont): a
symbol of the
protestant rule over
the catholic
The Protestants / Unionists (Mostly descendants of Scottish/ English 17th century immigrants): The Orange Order
parades (even through Catholic neighborhoods) to commemmorate victory over catholics (Battle of the Boyne,1690 a.d.). The
Ulster Unionist want to preserve their dominant status and ties. They resist any attempt to unifying the Island .
The 5 demands of the republican Prisoners
• In 1981, ten men sacrificed their lives for the freedoms of
many; in a hunger strike at the H-Blocks of Long Kesh
Prison, Occupied North of Ireland. One by one, ten young
men embarked on the agonizing protest of hunger strike until
death to secure the basic human rights and dignity of
Political Status for all Irish Republican Political Prisoners.

• As Irish Republican Political Prisoners, these men
recognized that the pursuit of freedom and sovereignty for
their native land was not a crime. They refused to be
labeled as criminals, and the fight for Political Status was
launched from their prison cells.

• A Blanket Protest and No-Wash Protest, followed by the
unimaginably difficult Dirty Protest, had galvanized the male
and female Republican prisoners for five long years but had
resulted in no real gains toward Political Status. A decision
was made by the prisoners to Hunger Strike.

• Their Five Demands were:
• The right not to wear a prisoner uniform
• The right to free association with Republican
political prisoners
• The right as political prisoners not to do prison
• The right to organize their own educational and
recreational facilities
• The right to one weekly visit, letter and parcel.
Bobby Sands (1954-1981) was the first modern era hunger striker to die, in the H-Block Prison, Long
Kesh, Belfast. Nine followed him in these protest-suicides that year. The world was stunned.

Funeral, attended by
100,000 mourners
plus all the world
media. Buried in
Milltown cemetary,

Bobby Sands mural (Falls Road, Belfast), on the side of the Sinn-Fein Offices
(Political ‘wing’ of the P.I.R.A.). He was elected MP just days before his death.
Northern Ireland is full of political mural, but this is the most famous.
Blanket / Dirty Protests and Hunger Strike /H-Block Maze-Long Kesh prison, Belfast

The ten hunger-strike victims
Republican Songs: Belfast Brigade
• Craig Adams sent the Specials out to shoot the people down
He thought the IRA were dead in dear old Belfast town
But he got a rude awakening with the rifle and grenade
When he met the 1st Battalion of the Belfast Brigade

Glory, glory to old Ireland, glory, glory to this island
Glory to the memories of the men who fought and dies
"No surrender" is the war cry of the Belfast Brigade

The soldiers came from Holywood equipped with English guns
They had men by the thousands, ammunition by the ton
But when they got to Belfast they were seriously waylaid
By the Fighting 1st Battalion of the Belfast Brigade


We have no ammunition or no armoured tanks to show
But we're ready to defend ourselves no matter where we go
We're out for our Republic and to hell with your free state
"No surrender" is the war cry of the Belfast Brigade


Come all ye gallant Irishmen and join the IRA
To strike a blow for freedom when there comes our certain day
You know our countries history and the sacrifice it made
Come join the 1st Battalion of the Belfast Brigade
Republican Songs: The ‘’Sam’’ song
Well I have been a Provo now for fifteen years or more
Of ArmaLites and mortar bombs I thought I knew the score
Now we have a weapon that we've never used before
The Brits are looking worried and they're going to worry more Rifle (AR-18), and Surface- to-air (SAM) missile
Tiocfaidh ár lá, sing up the 'RA, SAM missiles in the sky

I started out with petrol bombs and throwing bricks and stones
There were a hundred more lads like me I never was alone
Soon I learned that bricks and stones won't drive the brits away
It wasn't very long before I joined the IRA
Tiocfaidh ár lá, sing up the 'RA, SAM missiles in the sky

Then there came internment in the year of '71
The Brits thought we were beaten that we were on the run
On that early august morning they kicked in our back door
But for every man they took away they missed twenty more
Tiocfaidh ár lá, sing up the 'RA, SAM missiles in the sky

I spent eight years in the cages had time to think and plan
Although they locked away a boy I walked out a man
There's only one thing that I learned while in a cell I lay
The Brits will never leave us until they're blown away
Tiocfaidh ár lá, sing up the 'RA, SAM missiles in the sky

All through the days of hunger strike I watched my comrades die
And in the streets of Belfast you could hear the women cry
I can't forget the massacre that Friday at Loughgall
I salute my fallen comrades as I watch the choppers fall
Tiocfaidh ár lá, sing up the 'RA, SAM missiles in the sky

• Notes about the SAM song :The British army in Northern Ireland started to use helicopters in the mid-1970's, because ambushes and
snipers made ground patrols and road transport a perilous undertaking. The Provisional Irish Republican Army (pIRA) realised that it
would be devastating for British morale if they could bring down a helicopter and the organisation went shopping for surface-to-air
missiles, or SAM's. Initially the Provisional Irish Republican Army (pIRA) tried to buy SAM-missiles from Central American arms dealers
in the United States of America. In the course of the 1980's however the relation between the Provisional Irish Republican Army (pIRA)
and Libya's head of state Colonel Ghadaffi, started to pay off and rumours that the Provisional Irish Republican Army (pIRA) had acquired
SAM-missiles started to buzz around.

• Tiocfaidh ár lá, abbreviated to TÁL, meaning our day will come, is the slogan of the Republican movement. Nowadays this slogan is
rarely heard in the Republic of Ireland and only occasionally in Northern Ireland. Among Irish descendants in the United States or
Scotland however the slogan is still rather popular.
mountains rude and wild
The great Irish
They Famine (1845-1850)
say it tis a lovely devastated
place, wherin mostly the poor Irish catholics.
in a saint
About one million people dwell,
and many many more lost their homes, properties and left the
country. Some Republicans call you
so why did abandon it,Genocide
it a systematic the reasonby to
very negligent British Empire of
the day, who did not do much to prevent the whole tragedy next door. The potato blight disease
itself was the direct reason of the famine but a lot of underlying social and political conditions and
Oh son I loved my native land, with energy
oppression led to the tragedy. Meanwhile, The Protestant masses were barely touched. The south
and pride
and the south west of'Tilthe island came
a blight suffered the
over onmost. Skibbereen
my prats, is a village in the south (Cork)
my sheep
which witnessed some andofcattle
the worst
died,horrors and is the site of mass graves of famine victims.
The rent and taxes were so high, I could not
them redeem,
And that's the cruel reason why, I left old

Oh, It's well I do remember, that bleak
December day,
The landlord and the sheriff came, to drive us
all away
They set my roof on fire, with their cursed
english spleen
And that's another reason why, I left old

Your mother too, God rest her soul, fell on the
snowy ground,
She fainted in her anguish, seeing the
desolation all round.
She never rose, but passed away, from life to
imortal dream,
She found a quiet grave, my boy, in dear old

And you were only two years old, and feeble
was your frame,
Potato Blight disease I could not leave you with your friends, you
bore your father's name,
I wrapped you in my cota mior, in the dead of
night unseen
I heaved a sigh, and said goodbye, to dear old