National Identity. The long history of modern Irish revolutions began in 1798, when Catholic and Presbyterian leaders, influenced by the American and French Revolutions and desirous of the introduction of some measure of Irish national self-government, joined together to use force to attempt to break the link between Ireland and England. This, and subsequent rebellions in 1803, 1848, and 1867, failed. Ireland was made part of the United Kingdom in the Act of Union of 1801, which lasted until the end of World War I (1914–1918), when the Irish War of Independence led to a compromise agreement between the Irish belligerents, the British government, and Northern Irish Protestants who wanted Ulster to remain part of the United Kingdom. This compromise established the Irish Free State, which was composed of twenty-six of Ireland's thirty-two counties. The remainder became Northern Ireland, the only part of Ireland to stay in the United Kingdom, and wherein the majority population were Protestant and Unionist.
Since the twelfth century therefore, it is possible to discern significant
shifts in the Irish problem. Until 1921, it was essentially an Irish-English
problem and focused on Ireland's attempt to secure independence from Britain.
From 1921 the emphasis shifted to relationships within the island of Ireland,
between what later became the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland;
this issue has somewhat revived since the signing of the Anglo-Irish agreement
in 1985. Finally, since 1969, attention has focused on relationships between
Catholics and Protestants within Northern Ireland.
The Troubles in Northern Ireland are an intriguing example of modern sectarianism and post-colonial conflict. Studying this period provides a solid foundation in historical and political concepts. Alpha History’s Northern Ireland website contains detailed overviews of significant topics , primary sources such as images and documents , as well as useful reference material like timelines , glossaries , biographies and a range of online activities. We welcome constructive feedback, suggestions and contributions about this site – please contact us for more information.