Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)



The early peoples of Ireland were assimilated relatively peacefully by the Celts or Gaels by the C3rd BC. Many Irish Celtic legends contain stories which could relate to this period. Gaelic Ireland was divided into kingdoms whose leaders were elected according to tribal or Brehon law. They were under the nominal leadership of the Ardri or High King but were usually fighting amongst themselves.

Ireland, or Hibernia, did not become part of the Roman Empire but after the Romans left Britain, many of the Scots, then a people of Ireland, migrated to Pictish Caledonia, which became known as Scotland, and Wales. St Patrick introduced Christianity in around 432 AD and Ireland was largely Christian by AD 600, although the Celtic church was separate from that of Rome initially. The two foundations used different dating systems which led to the confusions addressed by the Synod of Whitby. Celtic missionaries were instrumental in Christianising the Germanic peoples who had taken over from the Romans in the rest of Britain and Europe and their monasteries provided a focus for many of the Viking raids from the end of the C8th onwards.

The Norwegians established several bases in Ireland including Dublin, founded by 841, and held most of the major ports. The Irish themselves were socially and politically divided and were slow to develop their own towns although they were in political control of some of the Norwegian ones inland. Brian Boru, king from 976, defeated the Danes at Clontarf in 1014 but a further threat came from the Normans who had conquered Saxon England in 1066. Anglo-Norman adventurers invaded Ireland in 1167 and Henry II managed to obtain a precarious foothold in Ireland in 1171 but English territory was confined to the Pale (the area around Dublin). By 1215, the entire eastern coast (Ulster, Meath, Leinster) was under Norman control with Connaught added by 1235. By the early C14th, the Irish lands included less than half the country such as Desmond (the south-west point of the island) and Tirconnell and Tirowen to the north-west.

Irish resistance continued and the Kingdom of Ireland was established in 1541 including all lands 'beyond the Pale'. Under the Tudors and early Stuarts, the English pursued a policy of conquest, plantation by English settlers and they imposed their language and church Reformation upon Ireland. The most important plantation was that of Ulster in 1610. The Irish took advantage of the conflict between Charles I and his Parliament to revolt but were crushed by Oliver Cromwell in 1449 and the estates of all rebels were confiscated. The English Republic (1649-60) of Oliver Cromwell reduced the independence of Ireland and Scotland to give the British Isles their first unified government but this did not survive the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II. Another revolt in 1689-91 was put down by the Protestant William of Orange (King Billy) and the Roman Catholic majority was oppressed by penal laws. A third of the population of about 1.5 million died in the famine of 1739-41. Further fighting during the C18th led to Ireland becoming part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Irish parliament was subordinated to the English one and Irish economic interests were eclipsed by those of England, leading to the rise of a Protestant patriot party. In 1782, it forced the English government to remove many commercial restrictions and allow an independent Irish parliament. There was another revolt in 1798, inspired by the French Revolution but this was put down.

In 1800, the English Prime Minister, William Pitt, brought in the Act of Union which brought Ireland under the British crown. Daniel O'Connell founded the Catholic Association in 1823 to campaign for Catholic political rights. He became MP for Country Clare in 1828 and forced Parliament to give Catholics the right to sit in Parliament. The Catholic Emancipation Act was passed in 1829. The Industrial Revolution had little influence, leaving Ireland as one of the poorest countries in Europe. Much of the country was ruled by absentee English landlords, many of whom had little or no interest in the welfare of their tenants. Emigration (forced and voluntary) and the famine of 1846-51 made Ireland the only country in Europe whose population actually fell during the C19th. In 1850, the Irish Franchise Act increased the number eligible to vote from 61 000 to 165 000. The Fenian Brotherhood was formed in 1858 but its insurrection failed in 1867. The Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1869.

The movement for home rule gathered strength with the formation of the Home Government Association (Home Rule League) by the Protestant, Isaac Butt, in 1870. Home Rule won 59 seats in Parliament in 1874 and a policy of obstruction was adopted. In 1880, Charles Stuart Parnell became leader of the Home Rulers who were dominated by Catholic groups. There was a series of 'Boycotts' against landlords who would not agree to fair rents. The Land Act, which provided greater security for tenants was greeted with hostility, Parnell was imprisoned in 1881 and the 'No Rent' movement began. Conciliation was agreed under the Kilmainham Treaty in 1882 but Chief Secretary Cavendish and Under Secretary Burke were murdered in Phoenix Park, Dublin. The Franchise Reform of 1885 gave the Home Rulers 85 seats in parliament and there was a balance between the Liberals and Tories. Liberal leader Gladstone supported the Home Rule Bill but it was rejected by Parliament in 1885 and 1886. The Home Rule movement was divided when Parnell was cited in a divorce case in 1890 and the Second Home Rule Bill was defeated in 1893. The Gaelic League was founded the same year and the Irish Nationalist were reunited under Redmond in 1900 with 82 MPs elected. Sinn Fein was founded by Arthur Griffin in 1902.

In 1906, the Nationalists rejected a Bill for devolution of power to Ireland and in 1910, Unionist opposition to Home Rule was led by Sit Edward Carson. The Home Rule Bill for the whole of Ireland was introduced in 1912 and the Protestants formed the Ulster Volunteers in protest. The Bill was defeated in the Lords but this was overridden although the First World War delayed its implementation. In the south, the Catholics founded the Irish Volunteers in 1913. In 1914, the Nationalists were persuaded to exclude Ulster from the Bill for six years but this was rejected by Carson. The Curragh mutiny brought the reliability of English troops against Protestants into doubt. There was extensive gun-running by both sides and in 1916, the Easter Rising by the Irish Republican Brotherhood was suppressed and its leaders executed. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was formed in 1919 and from 1919-22, there was a violent guerrilla war between the Irish nationalists and the British. The settlement of 1921 retained largely Protestant Ulster under British rule and made the rest of the country a dominion of the Empire. There were further conflicts between radicals and moderates within the Irish Free State until 1923.

Republic of Ireland (Eire)

Capital : Dublin

Size: 27100 sq m Popn: 3 547 000

Counties: Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Connacht, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Leinster (Laois), Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Munster, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow

Southern Ireland became formally known as the Irish Free State in 1921. It was accepted by IRA leader Michael Collins but not by many of his colleagues who joined Fianna F« il under Eamon de Valera. Collins was killed in the ensuing civil war and the partition was not acknowledged until 1937 when a new constitution established the country as the sovereign state of Eire but the IRA continued to campaign for a united Ireland. In 1949, Eire left the Commonwealth and declared itself a Republic.

Fianna F« il held office for over 40 years until it was defeated in 1973 and Liam Cosgrave formed a coalition between Labour and Fine Gael. Fianna F« il returned to power under Jack Lynch in 1977. IRA activity intensified in 1979 with the killing of Earl Mountbatten in Ireland and 18 British soldiers in Northern Ireland. Lynch resigned later that year and was succeeded by Charles Haughey, whose aim was a united Ireland with considerable independence for the six northern counties. After the 1981 election, a coalition was formed between Fine Gael, under Garret FitzGerald, and Labour but it resigned in 1982 after its budget proposals were defeated. Haughey returned to office with a minority government but resigned later that year and FitzGerald returned.

In 1983, all the main political parties in Northern Ireland and the Republic initiated the New Ireland Forum but its report was rejected by the Conservative British government of Margaret Thatcher. In 1985, discussions between London and Dublin led to the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement which provided for regular consultation and exchange of information regarding cross-border matters and stated that the status of Northern Ireland would not be changed without the agreement of the majority of its people. It was criticized by Unionist politicians in Northern Ireland who wanted it rescinded. FitzGerald's coalition ended in 1986 and Fianna F« il and Charles Haughey returned after the 1987 election.

Disagreements over extradition procedures led to worsening relations with the UK in 1988. Haughey did not gain a majority in the 1989 elections and formed a coalition with the Progressive Democrats, a breakaway party from Fianna F« il. In November 1990, Brian Lenihan, who had been dismissed a deputy prime minister, was defeated in the presidential election by Mary Robinson who had left-wing backing. Alan Dukes resigned as leader of Fine Gael and was replaced by the right-wing John Bruton. The PD leader, Desmond O'Malley withdrew from the coalition in January 1992 after Haughey was accused of illegal 'phone-tapping. Haughey lost his parliamentary majority and resigned as prime minister and Fianna F« il leader. He was succeeded by Albert Reynolds who reconstructed the cabinet with Bertie Ahern as finance minister and David Andrews as foreign minister. Ireland approved the Maastricht Treaty on European union in a referendum in June 1992 by 69% of a turnout of 57%. Reynolds campaigned hard for the treaty because he felt that it was essential to the economy for Ireland to retain close links with the EC.

Northern Ireland (Ulster)

Main city : Belfast

Counties: Antrim, Londonderry, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh, Down

Ulster originally included Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan but they became part of the Irish Free State, now the Republic of Ireland.

Districts: Antrim, Ards, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Belfast, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Coleraine, Cookstown, Down, Dungannon, Fermanagh, Larne, Limavady, Lisburn, Londonderry, Lurgan/Craigavon, Magherafelt, Moyle, Newry and Mourne, Newtownabbey, North Down, Omagh, Strabane

The mainly Protestant counties of Ulster withdrew from the Irish Free State in 1921. The IRA continued to protest against this and the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was set up in 1967 to press for the equal treatment of the Roman Catholic minority. In 1968-9, serious disturbances arose in protest at Protestant political dominance and discrimination against Catholics in employment and housing. British troops were sent in to restore peace and protect Catholics but the disturbances continued. In 1969, election results weakened Terence O'Neil's Unionist government and further rioting led to the call-up of the Protestant-based B-Specials to the Royal Ulster Constabulary which was later disarmed and the B-Specials replaced by the non-sectarian Ulster Defence Regiment. The IRA became divided into the 'official' and 'provisional' wings and the first British soldier was killed in 1971.

O'Neil was replaced by Chicester-Clark who resigned in 1971 and was replaced by Brian Faulkner. The IRA stepped up its bombing campaign and in 1972, the British Army killed 13 demonstrators in Londonderry on 'Bloody Sunday'. The parliament at Stormont was prorogued and superseded by direct rule from Westminster. During 1974, an attempt at power-sharing between Protestant and Catholic groups failed and the IRA bombing was extended to the UK mainland with fatal incidents in Guildford and Birmingham. In 1976, the British Ambassador to Dublin was assassinated and Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan founded the Peace Movement. The INLA killed British MP Airey Neave at the House of Commons in 1978.

In 1980, Margaret Thatcher and Charles Haughey met to discuss a peaceful settlement but Republican prisoners in pursuit of political status started 'dirty protests' and hunger strikes which led to the deaths of Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes in 1981. The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council was formed and in 1982, the Northern Ireland Assembly was created to devolve legislation and executive powers to the province but was boycotted by the SDLP (19%) and Sinn Fein (10%). 1984 saw a series of reports by various groups on the future of the province. The IRA continued its campaign with the bombing of the Conservative Party Conference at Brighton. A second Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council meeting agreed to oppose violence and co-operate on security but Britain rejected proposals of confederation or joint sovereignty. Margaret Thatcher and Garret Fitzgerald met at Hillsborough in 1985 and made the Anglo-Irish Agreement but this was regarded as a sell-out by the Unionists. Protests and strikes followed, including violence against the police and the boycotting of Westminster by the 12 Ulster MPs. They gave up their seats so that the by-elections could be fought as a kind of referendum on the views of the province. The Northern Ireland assembly was dissolved by the UK government after a similar boycotting in 1986. Although job discrimination was made illegal in 1975, in 1987 Catholics were two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than Protestants

Eire approved the extradition clauses of the Agreement in 1987 but the IRA continued its bombing with incidents at a British Army base in West Germany and the Remembrance Day service at Enniskillen. In 1988, security forces in Gibralter killed three IRA bombers which caused protests. The Guildford Four were released in 1990 when their convictions were ruled unsound by the Court of Appeal. The convictions of the 'Birmingham Six' were also questioned and sent to the court of Appeal. The Anglo-Irish Agreement was threatened when Eire refused extraditions in 1990 and in 1991, the IRA renewed its campaign on the UK mainland with an attempt on a cabinet meeting in Downing Street and incidents at mainline stations and explosions at Bishopsgate, London and other cities in 1993. In 1991, the first direct talks between the political parties for sixteen years were held in Belfast, laying foundations for a dialogue between the British government and the main Northern Irish parties.

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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