Gaelic Ireland had emerged by the 1st century AD. The island was Christianised from the 5th century onwards. Following the 12th century Anglo-Norman invasion, England claimed sovereignty. However, English rule did not extend over the whole island until the 16th–17th century Tudor conquest, which led to colonisation by settlers from Britain. In the 1690s, a system of Protestant English rule was designed to materially disadvantage the Catholic majority and Protestant dissenters, and was extended during the 18th century. With the Acts of Union in 1801, Ireland became a part of the United Kingdom. A war of independence in the early 20th century was followed by the partition of the island, leading to the creation of the Irish Free State, which became increasingly sovereign over the following decades, and Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland saw much civil unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s. This subsided following the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. In 1973, the Republic of Ireland joined the European Economic Community while the United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland as part of it, did the same. In 2020, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland included, left what was by then the European Union (EU).
Irish culture has had a significant influence on other cultures, especially in the field of literature. Alongside mainstream Western culture, a strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed through Gaelic games, Irish music, Irish language, and Irish dance. The island's culture shares many features with that of Great Britain, including the English language, and sports such as association football, rugby, horse racing, golf, and boxing.
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