Ernie O'Malley was an Irish Republican Army officer during the Irish War of Independence and a commander of the anti-Treaty IRA during the Irish Civil War. He wrote three books, On Another Man's Wound, The Singing Flame, Raids and Rallies; the first describes his early life and role in the War of Independence, while the second covers the Civil War. Born Ernest Bernard Malley, in Castlebar, County Mayo, on May 26 1897, he was the second of eleven children. His father, Luke Malley, was a solicitor's clerk with conservative Irish nationalist politics, his mother was Marion Malley. The Malley family lived opposite a RIC barracks, Ernie noted the family's cordial relations with the RIC, saying that policemen would nod in courtesy when his father walked by. Ernie's first cousin, Gilbert Laithwaite, would become the British ambassador to Ireland in the 1950s; the Malleys moved to Dublin when Ernie was still a child and the 1911 census lists them living at 7 Iona Drive, Glasnevin. His older brother, joined the British Army at the outbreak of World War I.
O'Malley was studying medicine at University College Dublin in 1916 when the Easter Rising convulsed the city, he was persuaded by some unionist friends to join them in defending Trinity College, Dublin from the rebels should they attempt to take it. After some thought, he decided his sympathies were with the rebels and he and a friend took some shots at British troops with a borrowed Mauser rifle during the fighting, provided by the Gaelic League, he joined 1st battalion, Dublin Brigade, because its base was north of the Liffey. From only 12 men the company grew to 60 during 1916. Collins, De Valera, O'Hegarty visited the Drill Hall hidden at 25 Parnell Square. After the Easter Rising, O'Malley became involved in Irish republican activism, a fact he had to hide from his family, who had close ties to the establishment. In 1917, he joined the Irish Volunteers and Conradh na Gaeilge. During the Westmoreland Street riots, he stole a policeman's baton, scarpered to the safety of the Fairview slums.
He left his studies and worked as a full-time organiser for the IRA from 1918 onward: work that brought him to every corner of Ireland. On one occasion he attended a semi-public meeting of the Ulster Volunteer Force in County Tyrone for intelligence gathering, lamenting that such able men were opposed to his ideals. GHQ sent O'Malley to Assistant chief of staff, Dick Mulcahy at Dungannon, he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant of the Coalisland district. Sinn Féin opposed conscription in principle, organising a mass boycott the Dublin government's policy. O'Malley was on the run in Tullamore where he first met Darrell Figgis. At Philipstown he was stopped by RIC, went to draw on a concealed gun. From Athlone, where he tried to seize the magazine fort, he was sent to south Roscommon. There the police caught up with him and Brig. Brennan in the corner shop at Ballintubber. Escaping, he was crossing a bridge at the River Suck, Galway when the RIC fired and wounded, the fleeing suspect, he went to ground in the mountains.
Espying on FM Lord French at Rockingham House was hazardous. Night drilling continued in near silence behind village school houses, but the secret organising continued regardless. Although attached to IRA GHQ, O'Malley was tasked as a training officer for rural IRA units, which involved IRA operations throughout the country once the war got under way. In February 1920, Eoin O'Duffy and O'Malley led an IRA attack on the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks in Ballytrain, County Monaghan, were successful in taking it; this was the first capture of an RIC barracks in the war. In September, O'Malley and Liam Lynch led 2nd County Cork Brigade in the only capture of a British Army barracks of the conflict, in Mallow, they left with a haul of two Hotchkiss machine-guns and ammunition. In retaliation, several main street premises were subsequently torched by the British Army, including the town hall; the soldiers were brought under control by members of the Auxiliary Division of the RIC. He was captured by the British at Kilkenny in December 1920, found in possession of a handgun.
Much to his disgust, he had failed to destroy some notes, which contained the names of members of the 7th West Kilkenny Brigade, all of whom were subsequently arrested. At his arrest he gave his name as Bernard Stewart. Having been badly beaten during his interrogation at Dublin Castle and in severe danger of execution, he escaped from Kilmainham Gaol on 21 February 1921 along with IRA men Frank Teeling and Simon Donnelly, with the aid of a British soldier, an Irish republican. O'Malley was placed in command of the IRA's Second Southern Division in Munster, for operations in Limerick and Tipperary. O'Malley objected to the Anglo-Irish Treaty that formally ended the "Tan War", opposing any settlement that fell short of an independent Irish Republic one backed up by British threats of restarting hostilities, he was one of the anti-Treaty IRA officers who occupied the Four Courts in Dublin, an event that helped to spark the Irish Civil War. O'Malley was appointed assistant chief of staff in the anti-Treaty forces.
O'Malley surrendered to the Free State Army after the Battle of Dublin but escaped captivity and travelled via the Wicklow Mountains to Blessington County Wexford and County Carlow. This was fo
Tyrrellspass is a Georgian village in County Westmeath, Ireland. It is 81 kilometres from Dublin, in the south of the county on the R446 road. Tyrrellspass won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition in 1969; as of April 2016, population of the area is 483. The origins of the village settlement lie in the Nine Years' War called Tyrone's Rebellion. In 1597 there was a battle in Tyrrellspass and the Irish, between 300 and 400 strong and led by Richard Tyrrell and defeated the English army. Out of 1,000 English troops only one survived. There is a historic castle on the edge of the town, built by Tyrrell, a chief ally of Aodh Mór Ó Néill in the Nine Years' War, it is the only remaining castle of the Tyrrells, who came to Ireland around the time of the Norman invasion. The village has a distinctive green and crescent of houses, including the Church of Ireland church and what was the court house, redeveloped c. 1820 under the patronage of Jane MacKey, Countess of Belvedere. The Catholic Church of St. Stephen is located across from Tyrrellspass Castle and the Church of Ireland church is St. Sinian's.
The Belvedere Protestant Children's Orphanage operated in Tyrellspass from 1842 until 1943. During the 1916 Easter Rising, some rebels barricaded a house in Meedin, with the intention of waiting for reinforcements and attacking surrounding police barracks. Local legend has it that Michael Collins stayed in this house, the home of the Malones, who still occupy it; the RIC attempted to capture the house three times. Twice they were repelled with gunfire, before they succeeded on the Wednesday after Easter week, arrested the two remaining rebels and Joseph Malone, they were the last two men captured under arms during the Rising. Tyrrellspass has an excellent GAA senior football team, Tyrrellspass GAA; the team won the Westmeath Senior Football Championship in 1999, 2006 and defended their title in 2007. In the 2007 Leinster Club Football Championship they progressed as far as the final, where they were beaten by the eventual All Ireland Club champions St. Vincents of Dublin; the Village boasts a popular golf course.
New Forest Golf Resort is located a mile outside the village. It is designed by golf course designer Peter McEvoy. Father Ray Kelly List of towns and villages in Ireland Cloncrow Bog Village Website The Tidy Towns of Ireland "Celebrating 50 years"
The Irish are a Celtic nation and ethnic group native to the island of Ireland, who share a common Irish ancestry and culture. Ireland has been inhabited for about 12,500 years according to archaeological studies. For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been a Gaelic people. Viking invasions of Ireland during the 8th to 11th centuries established the cities of Dublin, Waterford and Limerick. Anglo-Normans conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England's 16th/17th-century conquest and colonisation of Ireland brought a large number of English and Lowland Scots people to parts of the island the north. Today, Ireland is made up of the Republic of the smaller Northern Ireland; the people of Northern Ireland hold various national identities including British, Northern Irish or some combination thereof. The Irish have their own customs, music, sports and mythology. Although Irish was their main language in the past, today most Irish people speak English as their first language.
The Irish nation was made up of kin groups or clans, the Irish had their own religion, law code and style of dress. There have been many notable Irish people throughout history. After Ireland's conversion to Christianity, Irish missionaries and scholars exerted great influence on Western Europe, the Irish came to be seen as a nation of "saints and scholars"; the 6th-century Irish monk and missionary Columbanus is regarded as one of the "fathers of Europe", followed by saints Cillian and Fergal. The scientist Robert Boyle is considered the "father of chemistry", Robert Mallet one of the "fathers of seismology". Famous Irish writers include Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, C. S. Lewis and Seamus Heaney. Notable Irish explorers include Brendan the Navigator, Sir Robert McClure, Sir Alexander Armstrong, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean. By some accounts, the first European child born in North America had Irish descent on both sides. Many presidents of the United States have had some Irish ancestry.
The population of Ireland is about 6.3 million, but it is estimated that 50 to 80 million people around the world have Irish forebears, making the Irish diaspora one of the largest of any nation. Emigration from Ireland has been the result of conflict and economic issues. People of Irish descent are found in English-speaking countries Great Britain, the United States and Australia. There are significant numbers in Argentina and New Zealand; the United States has the most people of Irish descent, while in Australia those of Irish descent are a higher percentage of the population than in any other country outside Ireland. Many Icelanders have Scottish Gaelic forebears. During the past 12,500 years of inhabitation, Ireland has witnessed some different peoples arrive on its shores; the ancient peoples of Ireland—such as the creators of the Céide Fields and Newgrange—are unknown. Neither their languages nor the terms they used to describe; as late as the middle centuries of the 1st millennium the inhabitants of Ireland did not appear to have a collective name for themselves.
Ireland itself was known by a number of different names, including Banba, Fódla, Ériu by the islanders and Hiverne to the Greeks, Hibernia to the Romans. Scotland takes its name from Scota, who in Irish mythology, Scottish mythology, pseudohistory, is the name given to two different mythological daughters of two different Egyptian Pharaohs to whom the Gaels traced their ancestry explaining the name Scoti, applied by the Romans to Irish raiders, to the Irish invaders of Argyll and Caledonia which became known as Scotland. Other Latin names for people from Ireland in Classic and Mediaeval sources include Attacotti and Gael; this last word, derived from the Welsh gwyddel "raiders", was adopted by the Irish for themselves. However, as a term it is on a par with Viking, as it describes an activity and its proponents, not their actual ethnic affiliations; the terms Irish and Ireland are derived from the goddess Ériu. A variety of historical ethnic groups have inhabited the island, including the Airgialla, Fir Ol nEchmacht, Fir Bolg, Érainn, Eóganachta, Conmaicne and Ulaid.
In the cases of the Conmaicne, Érainn, it can be demonstrated that the tribe took their name from their chief deity, or in the case of the Ciannachta, Eóganachta, the Soghain, a deified ancestor. This practice is paralleled by the Anglo-Saxon dynasties' claims of descent from Woden, via his sons Wecta, Baeldaeg and Wihtlaeg; the Greek mythographer Euhemerus originated the concept of Euhemerism, which treats mythological accounts as a reflection of actual historical events shaped by retelling and traditional mores. In the 12th century, Icelandic bard and historian Snorri Sturluson proposed that the Norse gods were historical war leaders and kings, who became cult figures set into society as gods; this view is in agreement with Irish historians such as Francis John Byrne. One legend states that the Irish were descended from one Míl Espáine, whose sons conquered Ireland around 1000 BC or
County Westmeath is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region, it formed part of the historic Kingdom of Meath. It was named Mide. Westmeath County Council is the administrative body for the county, the county town is Mullingar. At the 2016 census, the population of the county was 88,770. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the territory of the Gaelic Kingdom of Meath formed the basis for the Anglo-Norman Lordship of Meath granted by King Henry II of England to Hugh de Lacy in 1172. Following the failure of de Lacy's male heirs in 1241, the Lordship was split between two great-granddaughters. One moiety, a central eastern portion, was awarded to Maud as the liberty of Trim; the liberty and royal county were merged in 1461. While the east of the county was in the English Pale, the west was Gaelicised in the fourteenth century and outside the control of the sheriff of Meath. In 1543, during the Tudor re-conquest of Ireland, the Parliament of Ireland passed an act dividing the county into two, the eastern portion retaining the name Meath and the western portion called Westmeath.
Westmeath is the 20th largest of Ireland's 32 counties by area and the 22nd largest in terms of population. It is the sixth largest of Leinster’s 12 counties in size and eighth largest in terms of population; the Hill of Uisneach in the barony of Moycashel is sometimes regarded as the notional geographical centre of Ireland although the actual geographic centre of Ireland lies in neighbouring County Roscommon. The summit of Mullaghmeen is the highest point in County Westmeath. At just 258 metres this makes it the lowest county top in Ireland; the head office of Westmeath County Council is located in Mullingar. There are 20 councillors; the three electoral areas of Westmeath are Mullingar-Coole and Mullingar-Kilbeggan. The Local Government Act 1898, provided the framework for the establishment of County Councils throughout Ireland; the first meeting of Westmeath County Council was held on 22 April 1899. Westmeath's population growth has been stronger than the national average. After the Great Famine, the population of Westmeath declined dramatically.
It stabilised in the middle of the 20th century, has continued to grow. Westmeath's proximity to Dublin, with good motorway facilities and frequent rail service, has made commuting popular. County Westmeath's population fell in the century following the Great Famine, with many leaving for better opportunities in America; the largest town in the county is Athlone, followed by the County town Mullingar. Westmeath is the largest county by population in the Irish Midlands. Important commercial and marketing centres include Moate, Kinnegad, Delvin, Rochfortbridge and Castlepollard. According to the 2011 census, 51.9% of Westmeath households have at least one Irish speaker. Westmeath is one of the few counties in Ireland where some census records from 1841 are still available; some of the records of that census have been digitised and maintained by the National Archives of Ireland. As of the 2016 census, Westmeath had a population of 88,770, consisting of 44,082 males and 44,668 females; the Central Statistics Office said that despite the overall increase in population, rural population had still fallen.
Development occurred around the major market centres of Mullingar and Kinnegad. Athlone developed due to its military significance, its strategic location on the main Dublin–Galway route across the River Shannon. Mullingar gained considerable advantage from the development of the Royal Canal; the canal facilitated cheap transport of produce to Dublin and Europe. Athlone and Mullingar expanded further with the coming of the Midland Great Western Railway network in the nineteenth century. Tourism in Westmeath is based on its many water amenities; the county lakes include Lough Derravaragh, Lough Ennell, Lough Owel, Lough Lene, Lough Sheelin and Lough Ree. Both the Grand Canal, the Royal Canal flow through Westmeath, the River Shannon has a modern inland harbour in Athlone. In 2017 the largest employment sectors within Westmeath were: Two major "Greenway" projects are intended to improve cycling facilities; the Athone - Mullingar section of the Dublin – Galway Greenway, along the old railway corridor between Athlone and Mullingar, was constructed in 2015.
The Royal Canal Greenway takes tourists from the county boundary to Mullingar, on towards Longford. Those wishing to use the Dublin-Galway Greenway can transfer from the Royal Canal route to the old rail corridor onwards towards Athlone; the development of industry in Westmeath has been based on food processing and consumer products. Whiskey is distilled in Kilbeggan and tobacco is processed in Mullingar; the county has an extensive dairy trade. In recent times, the manufacturer Alkermes has located in Athlone; the eastern part of the county is home to commuters, many of whom work at the technology parks on the western side of Dublin. Mullingar is renowned for the high quality of its veal. Weaned cattle from the west of the Shannon are fattened for market on the lush grasslands of Meath and Westmeath; the cattle are used to maintain grassland to help sustain wildlife in the areas fringing the Bog of Allen. Westmeath is home to many stud farms; the plains of Westmeath, covered in calcium-rich marl, co
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army and British forces: the British Army, along with the quasi-military Royal Irish Constabulary and its paramilitary forces the Auxiliaries and Ulster Special Constabulary. It was an escalation of the Irish revolutionary period into warfare. In April 1916, Irish republicans launched the Easter Rising against British rule and proclaimed an Irish Republic. Although it was crushed after a week of fighting, the Easter Rising and the British response led to greater popular support for Irish independence. In the December 1918 election, the republican party Sinn Féin won a landslide victory in Ireland. On 21 January 1919 they declared Irish independence; that day, two RIC officers were shot dead in the Soloheadbeg ambush by IRA volunteers acting on their own initiative. The conflict developed gradually. For much of 1919, IRA activity involved capturing weaponry and freeing republican prisoners, while the Dáil set about building a state.
In September, the British government outlawed the conflict intensified. The IRA began ambushing RIC and British Army patrols, attacking their barracks and forcing isolated barracks to be abandoned; the British government bolstered the RIC with recruits from Britain—the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries—who became notorious for ill-discipline and reprisal attacks on civilians, some of which were authorized by the British government. Thus the conflict is sometimes called the Tan War; the conflict involved civil disobedience, notably the refusal of Irish railwaymen to transport British forces or military supplies. In mid-1920, republicans won control of most county councils, British authority collapsed in most of the south and west, forcing the British government to introduce emergency powers. About 300 people had been killed by late 1920. On Bloody Sunday in Dublin, 21 November 1920, fourteen British intelligence operatives were assassinated in the morning. A week seventeen Auxiliaries were killed by the IRA in the Kilmichael Ambush in County Cork.
The British government declared martial law in much of southern Ireland. The centre of Cork city was burnt out by British forces in December 1920. Violence continued to escalate over the next seven months, when 1,000 people were killed and 4,500 republicans were interned. Much of the fighting took place in Munster and Belfast, which together saw over 75 percent of the conflict deaths; the conflict in north-east Ulster had a sectarian aspect. While the Catholic minority there backed Irish independence, the Protestant majority were unionist/loyalist. A Special Constabulary was formed, made up of Protestants, loyalist paramilitaries were active, they attacked Catholics in reprisal for IRA actions, in Belfast a sectarian conflict raged in which 500 were killed, most of them Catholics. In May 1921, Ireland was partitioned under British law by the Government of Ireland Act, which created Northern Ireland. Both sides agreed to a ceasefire on 11 July 1921; the post-ceasefire talks led to the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty on 6 December 1921.
This ended British rule in most of Ireland and, after a ten-month transitional period overseen by a provisional government, the Irish Free State was created as a self-governing Dominion on 6 December 1922. Northern Ireland remained within the United Kingdom. After the ceasefire, violence in Belfast and fighting in border areas of Northern Ireland continued, the IRA launched a failed Northern offensive in May 1922. In June 1922, disagreement among republicans over the Anglo-Irish Treaty led to the ten-month Irish Civil War; the Irish Free State awarded 62,868 medals for service during the War of Independence, of which 15,224 were issued to IRA fighters of the flying columns. Since the 1880s, Irish nationalists in the Irish Parliamentary Party had been demanding Home Rule, or self-government, from Britain. Fringe organisations, such as Arthur Griffith's Sinn Féin, instead argued for some form of Irish independence, but they were in a small minority; the demand for Home Rule was granted by the British Government in 1912 prompting a prolonged crisis within the United Kingdom as Ulster unionists formed an armed organisation – the Ulster Volunteers – to resist this measure of devolution, at least in territory they could control.
In turn, nationalists formed the Irish Volunteers. The British Parliament passed the Third Home Rule Act on 18 September 1914 with an amending Bill for the partition of Ireland introduced by Ulster Unionist MPs, but the Act's implementation was postponed by the Suspensory Act 1914 due to the outbreak of the First World War in the previous month; the majority of nationalists followed their IPP leaders and John Redmond's call to support Britain and the Allied war effort in Irish regiments of the New British Army, the intention being to ensure the commencement of Home Rule after the war. But a significant minority of the Irish Volunteers opposed Ireland's involvement in the war; the Volunteer movement split, a majority leaving to form the National Volunteers under Redmond. The remaining Irish Volunteers, under Eoin MacNeill, held that they would maintain their organisation until Home Rule had been granted. Within this Volunteer movement, another faction, led by the separatist Irish Republican Brotherhood, began to prepare for a revolt a
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael Collins was an Irish revolutionary and politician, a leading figure in the early-20th-century Irish struggle for independence. He was Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State from January 1922 until his assassination in August 1922. Collins was born in Woodfield, County Cork, the youngest of eight children, his family had republican connections reaching back to the 1798 rebellion, he moved to London in 1906. He was a member of the London GAA, through which he became associated with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Gaelic League, he fought in the Easter Rising. He was subsequently imprisoned in the Frongoch internment camp as a prisoner of war, but was released in December 1916. Collins rose through the ranks of the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Féin after his release from Frongoch, he became a Teachta Dála for South Cork in 1918, was appointed Minister for Finance in the First Dáil. He was present when the Dáil convened on 21 January 1919 and declared the independence of the Irish Republic.
In the ensuing War of Independence, he was Director of Organisation and Adjutant General for the Irish Volunteers, Director of Intelligence of the Irish Republican Army. He gained fame as a guerrilla warfare strategist and directing many successful attacks on British forces, such as the assassination of key British intelligence agents in November 1920. After the July 1921 ceasefire and Arthur Griffith were sent to London by Éamon de Valera to negotiate peace terms; the resulting Anglo-Irish Treaty established the Irish Free State but depended on an Oath of Allegiance to the Crown, a condition that de Valera and other republican leaders could not reconcile with. Collins viewed the Treaty as offering "the freedom to achieve freedom", persuaded a majority in the Dáil to ratify the Treaty. A provisional government was formed under his chairmanship in early 1922 but was soon disrupted by the Irish Civil War, in which Collins was commander-in-chief of the National Army, he was shot and killed in an ambush by anti-Treaty forces on 22 August 1922.
Collins was born in Woodfield, Hugh's Cross, near Clonakilty County Cork, on 16 October 1890, the third son and youngest of eight children. His father, Michael John, was a farmer and amateur mathematician, a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood movement; the elder Collins was 60 years old when he married Mary Anne O'Brien 23, in 1876. The marriage was happy, they brought up eight children on a 90-acre farm called Woodfield, which the Collins family had held as tenants for several generations. Michael was six years old, he was a bright and precocious child with a fiery temper and a passionate feeling of Irish patriotism. He named a local blacksmith, James Santry, his headmaster at Lisavaird National School, Denis Lyons, as the first nationalists to inspire his "pride of Irishness". Lyons was a member of the IRB, while Santry's family had participated in, forged arms for, the rebellions of 1798, 1848 and 1867. There are a number of anecdotal explanations for the origin of his nickname "The Big Fellow".
His family claim that he was called this as a child, as a term of endearment for an adventitious and bold youngest brother. The nickname was established by his teens, long before he became as a military leader. At the age of thirteen he attended Clonakilty National School. During the week he stayed with his sister Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll and her husband Patrick O'Driscoll, while at weekends he returned to the family farm. Patrick O'Driscoll founded The West Cork People and Collins helped out with general reporting and preparing the issues of the newspaper. Leaving school at fifteen, Collins took the British Civil Service examination in Cork in February 1906 and moved to the home of his sister Hannie in London, where he became a boy clerk in the Post Office Savings Bank at Blythe House. In 1910 he became a messenger at a London firm of stockbrokers and Company. While living in London he studied law at King's College London, he joined the London GAA and, through this, the IRB. Sam Maguire, a republican from Dunmanway, County Cork, introduced the 19-year-old Collins to the IRB.
In 1915 he moved to work in the Guaranty Trust Company of New York where he remained until his return to Ireland the following year joining part-time Craig Gardiner & Co, a firm of accountants in Dawson Street, Dublin. The struggle for Home Rule, along with labour unrest, had led to the formation in 1913 of two major nationalist paramilitary groups who launched the Easter Rising: the Irish Citizen Army was established by James Connolly, James Larkin and his Irish Transport and General Workers Union to protect strikers from the Dublin Metropolitan Police during the 1913 Dublin Lockout; the Irish Volunteers were created in the same year by nationalists in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers, an Ulster loyalist body pledged to oppose Home Rule by force. An organiser of considerable intelligence, Collins had become respected in the IRB; this led to his appointment as financial advisor to Count Plunkett, father of one of the Easter Rising's organisers, Joseph Plunkett. Collins took part in preparing arms and drilling troops for the insurrection.
The Rising was Collins' first appearance in national events. When it commenced on Easter Monday 1916, Collins served as Joseph Plunkett's aide-de-camp at the rebellion's headquarters in the General Post Office in Dublin. There he fought alongside Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, other members of the Rising leadership; the Rising was put down after s
Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, the twentieth-largest on Earth. Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland, which covers five-sixths of the island, Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. In 2011, the population of Ireland was about 6.6 million, ranking it the second-most populous island in Europe after Great Britain. Just under 4.8 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland. The island's geography comprises low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain, with several navigable rivers extending inland, its lush vegetation is a product of its mild but changeable climate, free of extremes in temperature. Much of Ireland was woodland until the end of the Middle Ages. Today, woodland makes up about 10% of the island, compared with a European average of over 33%, most of it is non-native conifer plantations.
There are twenty-six extant mammal species native to Ireland. The Irish climate is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and thus moderate, winters are milder than expected for such a northerly area, although summers are cooler than those in continental Europe. Rainfall and cloud cover are abundant; the earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland is dated at 10,500 BC. Gaelic Ireland had emerged by the 1st century AD; the island was Christianised from the 5th century onward. Following the 12th century 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, 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, creating the Irish Free State, which became sovereign over the following decades, 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 a political agreement in 1998. In 1973 the Republic of Ireland joined the European Economic Community while the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, as part of it, did the same. Irish culture has had a significant influence on other cultures in the field of literature. Alongside mainstream Western culture, a strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed through Gaelic games, Irish music and the Irish language; the island's culture shares many features with that of Great Britain, including the English language, sports such as association football, horse racing, golf. The names Éire derive from Old Irish Eriu; this in turn comes from the Proto-Celtic *Iveriu, the source of Latin Hibernia. Iveriu derives from a root meaning'fat, prosperous'. During the last glacial period, up until about 10,000 BC, most of Ireland was periodically covered in ice. Sea levels were lower and Ireland, like Great Britain, formed part of continental Europe.
By 16,000 BC, rising sea levels due to ice melting caused Ireland to become separated from Great Britain. Around 6000 BC, Great Britain itself became separated from continental Europe; the earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland is dated at 10,500 BC, demonstrated by a butchered bear bone found in a cave in County Clare. It is not until about 8000 BC, that more sustained occupation of the island has been shown, with evidence for Mesolithic communities around the island; these Mesolithic communities lived as hunter-gatherers across the island until about 4000 BC. Some time before 4000 BC, Neolithic settlers arrived introducing cereal cultivars, domesticated animals such as cattle and sheep, large timber building, stone monuments; the earliest evidence for farming in Ireland or Great Britain is from Co.. Kerry, where a flint knife, cattle bones and a sheep's tooth were carbon-dated to c. 4350 BC. Field systems were developed in different parts of Ireland, including at the Céide Fields, preserved beneath a blanket of peat in present-day Tyrawley.
An extensive field system, arguably the oldest in the world, consisted of small divisions separated by dry-stone walls. The fields were farmed for several centuries between 3500 BC and 3000 BC. Wheat and barley were the principal crops; the Bronze Age – defined by the use of metal – began around 2500 BC, with technology changing people's everyday lives during this period through innovations such as the wheel. According to John T. Koch and others, Ireland in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-network culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age that included Britain, western France and Iberia, that this is where Celtic languages developed; this contrasts with the traditional view that their origin lies in mainland Europe with the Hallstatt culture. During the Iron Age, a Celtic language and culture emerged in Ireland. How and when the island became Celtic has been debated for close to a century, with the migrations of the Celts being one of the more enduring themes of archaeological and linguistic studies.
The most recent genetic research s