Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ah, the luck o' the Irish.  That's right.  I'm doing a St. Patty's day post.  At least, sort of...
Mostly I just don't really get it.  I mean, ok, they have shamrocks and leprechauns.  There's always Guinness,  kissing, pots of gold, and other great stuff.  And I guess they're pretty lucky and Good ol' St. Patrick decided to drive all the snakes of the island.  But let's take a short look at the history of Ireland.
5000 BC- Basic settlements exist on the island which is accessed by land bridge.  Or something like this.  They start like any other civilization.  This isn't unfortunate, but it's not exactly lucky either.  The Inuit did the same thing.
500-600 AD- Christianity and  St Patrick influence this Celtic region.  Christianity becomes the prevalent religion.  The Irish find religion.  Sure, this is great.  For now...
800 AD- A century of viking invasions begin to wreck havoc.  Good times.
1169- The beginning of outside (originally Norman) involvement in Ireland.  In 1534 English military campaigns begin and settlers begin to flow into the region.
Early 1600s- It is clear Gaelic Ireland is defeated.  Religious conflict becomes a integrated part of their history and society.  They are also thrilled, or course, at English domination.  The Anglican church is installed, and bloody conflicts are carried out as the Irish are subdued in a "re-conquest" and Catholics are discrimiated against.
1641 and 1689- Both the beginnings of civil war.  The first is started with an uprising killing thousands of protestant settlers.  By the end almost of third of Irish population is killed or exiled.  Catholic land is redistributed.  Parliament is rearranged and James (a Catholic) goes up against William the Orange for the second war in order to reclaim property.  What luck!  No, wait, James loses.
1740- The Great Irish Famine.  Potato blight.  Hundreds of thousands of Irish die.  Another 150,000 leave.
1798- The Irish rebellion is held by the Society of United Irishmen.  It is violently suppressed, and self governing done away with 1801.  Ireland is now officially part of England.  Maybe they were a little short on four-leafed clover.
1845- The second great famine.  Population drops by millions.  Gaelic begins to become obsolete.
1916-1921- Political distress, violence and guerrilla warfare (or, war of independence).  Oh, and WW1.  England has bigger fish to fry and in1919 sovereignty is declared.  In1921 N. Ireland is differentiated and chooses to remain with the UK.
1922 and 1923- Another bloody civil war.  Who saw that one coming?
1949- After remaining quite neutral through WW2 Ireland leaves the British common wealth.  throughout these years Catholics dominated the political scene, and protestants are discriminated (except in N. Ireland which encounters violent upheaval in the 1960s).  Unfortunately, the Catholic Church makes a lot of inhumane decisions in the running of the Irish.
1970s- Economic stagnation.  Continued trouble in N. Ireland.
1990s- Tribunals set up to investigate severe scandals through the church and political positions.  This is, not lucky, but a good thing as it faces some major problems plaguing Ireland.  By now people are becoming less bound to religious following, and religious freedom is granted to a greater extent.
 1996- Angela's Ashes published.  a memoir which documents extreme poverty, religious and political discrimination, and alcoholism within the Irish setting.  Other true-life accounts emerge showing the horrors of religious sex scandal, ect.
Modern Ireland- They finally have their act together.  More or less.  Catholicism has lost much of it's control, the economy has taken it's place as a power.  There is still tension between the north and south.  Also a continuing presence of the UK.  Overall stable.  But I don't think it's in the last 20 years that Ireland has been considered lucky.  
Maybe that's it, ultimately though.  A long history of bloodshed, and they're still drinking pints in their pubs and proud that they're Irish. (note, referenced almost exclusively through Wikipedia)
Who knows?  They host a pretty good holiday.
so Happy Saint Patty's day, anyway.  
May you be luckier then the Irish!

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