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by Mike Cronin

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-333-65432-3
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

A short history of Ireland from the 12th century to the present.

There is no real common denominator in Ireland’s history, Cronin (History/De Montfort Univ.) points out: events always move Ireland toward unity and disunity at the same time. The country is always being overrun by the British, and largely because of them there are two Irelands—one a republic and one a part of Britain, but both of them Irish and, in a lesser way, British. Cronin traces Catholicism in Ireland from its introduction by St. Patrick, pointing out that the Irish Church was essentially a loose confederation of monasteries existing in tandem with the rule of Irish Lords. The Church grew in strength as Ireland struggled to become a united nation, ironically inspired to unity by the invasions from England. Ireland was always an unruly province. Outright rebellion in the late 18th century brought the Act of Union, dissolving the Irish parliament and allowing the Irish seats in the British Parliament, but in the long run only fostering discontent. The potato famine brought fairer land laws from the British, and, of course, an Irish diaspora, but Irish discontent boiled over again in the late 19th century, resulting in the advocacy for home rule and, in 1920, the partition of the country through Ulster. Finally, Cronin discusses the present-day Catholic country of the Republic of Ireland and the strange entity of Northern Ireland, where the actions of Bill Clinton and George Mitchell were an important component of the uneasy peace.

A clear, readable survey that strikes exactly the right tone of accessible scholarship.