Irish History Lesson
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Irish History Lesson






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Irish History Lesson Irish History Lesson Presentation Transcript

  • Irish History Lesson
  • Brehon Law + Custom
    We’ll go back to way before the 12th century, before the Normans invaded Ireland. One of the earliest systems of law was called Brehon Law. This was administered around the country by travelling judges – the judges themselves were called Brehons. This law was based mostly on custom, i.e.what people had been doing the whole time, and then people started writing down what was the custom, and these Brehon judges made sure that everything was going the way it should.
  • Strongbow comes to Ireland
    Does anybody know about the Normans? The King of Leinster – Diarmaid MacMorrow – had been ousted as king by Irish rebels and he asked for help from England and this came in the form of the Normans –in particular a man called Strongbow, who arrived in Ireland in 1169. Within a short time Leinster was conquered, Waterford and Dublin were under Diarmait's control. Strongbow married Diarmait's daughter, Aoife, and was named as heir to the Kingdom of Leinster. This latter development caused consternation to Henry II, who feared the establishment of a rival Norman state in Ireland. Accordingly, he resolved to visit Leinster to establish his authority.
  • Development of Common Law
    King Henry then came and established a KINGS COUNCIL – this was a decision making body, kind of like a court, and he then expanded this to make it kind of like the court system we know today. The Normans had their feudal system, which made organisation easy. Everybody knew who they were supposed to be obeying, there was a clearly defined system.
    To reinforce his authority, the king travelled around the kindom “holding court” but as time passed and the workload became bigger this role was transferred to officials who were allowed to act in the name of the King, and these were called Justices, which is what we call our judges today. These judges ensured that they were all applying the law in the same way by communicating and writing down, and this then got the name of ‘COMMON LAW,’ a term which we still use freely today.
  • “More Irish Than The Irish Themselves.”
    The influence of English law went into decline between 1300 and the end of the 1400s because the Normans became “more Irish than the Irish themselves.” They married Irish women and got in with all the Irish families. This came to a head in the 1480s with a court case (Anglo Norman merchants in Waterford claiming that English legislation restricting trade did not apply to them.) where it was decided by England to reinforce English rule in Ireland.
    A Law (Poyning’s Law) was then passed in 1494 which said that any Parliament assembled in Ireland required the prior approal of the King. This kind of English law was rigidly applied in areas around Dublin but in other areas around the country they continued to apply Brehon law in secret. This led to Dublin being known as The Pale by people from other areas.
  • Completely Under British Rule
    This continued on for about another 100 years and then in 1607 there was a failed rebellion by Irish noble families in Ulster (Flight of the Earls – lots of noble families fled to mainland Europe. This got rid of the Justices that we talked about while ago – because they were the main administrators of Brehon law – and so Ireland was pretty much completely under British law. The middle of the 17th Century saw the coming of Oliver Cromwell who invaded Ireland in 1649 to reinforce English superiority.Another important date is 1691 – does anyone know what this refers to? Battle of the Boyne, a fight between King William (Protestant King of England) and King James (Catholic) and his Catholic supporters. King William was successfil and then the Catholics who had supported James afterwards had to live under a series of harsh laws called….. does anybody know?..... The Penal Laws.
  • The Penal Laws
    The Irish Catholic was forbidden the exercise of his religion.
    He was forbidden to enter a profession.
    He was forbidden to hold public office.
    He was forbidden to live in a corporate town or within five miles thereof.
    He was forbidden to own land.
    He was forbidden to vote.
    He was forbidden to buy land from a Protestant.
    He was forbidden to rent any land that was worth more than 30 shillings a year.
    He could not attend Catholic worship.
    He was compelled by law to attend Protestant worship.
    He could not himself educate his child.
    He could not send his child to a Catholic teacher.
    He could not employ a Catholic teacher to come to his child.
  • Steps Towards Independence
    Between 1783 and 1800 Westminster allowed Ireland to legislate for itself. They introduced some legislation making some of the Penal laws less harsh. This was because revolutions were ongoing in America and France, and Britain did not want the Irish to act. A failed revolution in 1789 still lead however to the Act of Union in 1800– this was a very important act which would resonate throughout Irish history for about the next 120 years – combining the legislative assemblies of Ireland and Britain into one – Westminster.
  • Home Rule
    We’ll come now to something that has a bit more relevance. Home Rule – introduced by a man called Charles Stuart Parnell; he tried to get Home Rule for Ireland with the help of the British Prime Minister – William Gladstone. This would provide for limited powers for a parliament of Ireland. Westminster would ultimately have a lot of control, but we would be allowed to do a bit more. In particular, we would have control over domestic affairs – Why do you think it would be better for Ireland to have control of its own domestic affairs? Attempts to push Home Rule through parliament failed in 1886 and 1893 and 1914.
  • 1916 Rising & War of Independence
    The Government of Ireland Act 1920 eventually passed Home Rule and established two separate entities North and South Ireland with Dublin and Belfast as the capitals. Before this, however, a large rising had occurred in Ireland in 1916, which, although it wasn’t successful, had huge results. At the beginning Irish people had been ashamed of the rebellion (the British were at the time involved in fighting WW1, with many Irish people in their army) but the British treated the rebels very badly and so people began to come around to the idea of independence.
    In 1921, the War of Independence began around the country, not like a war on a battlefield but battles and ambushes all around the country (guerilla warfare) By the end of 1921 it was accepted by the British government that continued rule was going to be impossible in most parts of Ireland. So in 1921, they agreed to grant independence to Ireland, based on a number of conditions.
  • Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921
    Anglo Irish Treaty of 1921 led to a split among the country. The Treaty included an Oath to the Monarch of Britain, which some nationalists didn’t want to swear, as well as a number of other things that more radical nationalists didn’t agree to. A man called Michael Collins, along with some others, had gone over to sign the treaty and had been given an ultimatum  he could either sign the treaty without consulting anyone back home in Ireland or face increased battles. At this point the Irish army was so weak, they could not have faced further attack by the British, so Collins signed the Treaty.
  • Civil War + First Irish Government
    When they got home some people were very angry, including Eamon de Valera, who had wanted them to get total independence and nothing else. This led to a Civil war which lasted between June 1922 and April 1923 with eventual victory for Michael Collins’s Pro-Treaty side.
    The Pro-Treaty side had drafted a constitution in 1922; this included an oath of allegiance to the King but laid out the fundamental beliefs of the Irish state: freedom to worship, no religious discrimination, free speech, trial by jury
    This government carried along slowly but carefully. This was the first time we had ever really been allowed to rule ourselves so it was difficult for them. In 1932 there was another general election and those who had lost the civil war back in 1923 came to power (FiannaFáil under Eamon de Valera) They were worried that the transition of power would be violent, as it had only been 9 years ago that they had been fighting in the streets (some men came to the parliament with guns in their pockets) but the transition ran smoothly.
  • 1937 Constitution
    They drafted a new constitution in 1937 and passed it with the people (56% to 43%) This constitution ultimately abolished the oath of allegiance to the monarch of England
    Britain chose not to react to these changes made craftily by De Valera’s government and instead only reiterated its control over the six counties of Northern Ireland in its official response to the 1937 Constitution.