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Ireland: Land Divided Between Green and Orange

This is about the battle between Catholics and protestants in Ireland.

To some people, Ireland is a land of green; for others it is orange. Roman Catholics identify with green and Protestants identify with orange. This battle of the colors symbolizes a conflict that has gone on for centuries. The island is divided into Ireland which is mostly Catholic and Nothern Ireland which is mainly Protestant. Although there is realitive peace now, the country has been in war for centuries, a division that is mainly religious.

Some say that the history of Ireland begins in 5th century A.D. when Patrick arrived from Britain and converted the Celtics to Christianity. After the Reformation, Ireland remained Catholic but King Henry VIII changed Britain to Protestant. He sent Protestants to settle the northern part of Ireland. “The settlement of Ulster in 1609…was massive in scale and resulted in the intrusion of a Protestant Culture that was completely alien to its Catholic inhabitants.” (Darby 1976) This started the conflict. “Massacres of both Protestants and Catholics took place throughout the 1600’s, as the two sides battled for supremacy and the right to occupy the land each now called ‘home.’” The 17th century closed with war in the Battle of Boyne in 1690. William III Orange defeats James II of (Ireland). This is why the Protestants identify with orange. For now the minority Protestants are in control. On July 12, Protestants in Northern Ireland still celebrate Battle of Boyne. All in all, Great Britain ruled Catholic Ireland from 12th century to 1920.

The greatest trajedy of the 19th century was the Great Famine. The population grew from 5 million in 1800 and to 8 million in 1845 when the Great Famine struck. Most of the people were poor and depended on their potato crop. In 1845, a fungus desease attacked the potato plants and made them rot. The Great Famine lasted for 3 years. Many died from starvation and desease. In all, 1 million died and another 1 million immigrated to America. The government didn’t help very much, but left it up to the Irish landlords and soup kitchens. Many of the Irish tenants’ lost their land.

Tensions became worst in the early 20th century. Irish Catholics wanted home rule, which meant independence from Britain. However, Irish Protestants in the north didn’t want Irish Independence because they feared being ruled by majority Catholics. The dispute was resolved in 1920 by the Government of Ireland Act which divides Ireland politically into Ireland and Nothern Ireland. The act failed to settle the conflict. After the seperation of Ireland in 1920, more violence continued in the divided country.

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  1. Rask Balavoine

    On August 6, 2009 at 2:38 pm


    Things may not be so clear cut. The dispute is not religious, but political; there are Catholics in favour of the Union and Protestants in favour of independence as well as those who adopt the popular stance you describe. Sorry we don’t fit any of the press-generated stereotypes!

  2. max843

    On August 21, 2009 at 12:44 pm


    How I wish this would all end. My mother’s parents were born in Derry in 1880 and my father’s grandparents emigrated from Derry in 1847. All to Canada.

    They were Presbyterians but we have lots of cousins who married into Roman Catholic families. In 1964-65 during a peaceful interlude we visited relatives on both sides who wanted an end to the conflict.

    Such wonderful countries and talented people – I pray for peace, always.

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