I have lived in Northern Ireland for over fifty years and have not only a great interest in the history, but have lived through the troubled times of this small country.
The history of Northern Ireland with its continued conflict and troubles is a bloody and violent one for a country so small, and yet so divided. Northern Ireland it seems, has always had a history of conflict, and the Northern Ireland Troubles as they are now known, are in my opinion simply a manifestation of years of political, social and religious division.
On this website, I hope to provide you with two important elements, the first being an accurate history of Northern Ireland and the second element, will be my own experiences of growing up in Northern Ireland from 1958 to the present day.
I would like to share my own personal insight of someone who was born into "The Troubles," went to school during them, worked through them and eventually got married and raised a family. It wasn't always easy, and many times I thought I should go and live somewhere else, but something about this small country kept me here, despite the madness that surrounded me.
Northern Ireland consists of six counties which are; Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone. Three more counties then form the province of Ulster and these are Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan.
In 2010, Northern Ireland has a population of 1.7 million who inhabit an area of 5,400 square miles. If you consider London has a population of 7.5 million, Manchester a population of almost 4 million and Washington DC has a population of 6.7 million, it puts the entire size of the country of Northern Ireland into some context.
The constitutional roots of Northern Ireland were founded in the "Act of Union," (1800) which was an agreement between Great Britain and Ireland.
It was however on the 3rd May 1921 that Northern Ireland was created as a distinct part of the United Kingdom under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. From its inception, Northern Ireland had its own parliament as a devolved government located at Stormont in Belfast. Due to the ongoing conflict all of the institutions were suspended in 1972 and finally abolished completely in 1973. Some thirty years later and after 3,000 deaths, many bombings and barbaric violence, an assembly was formed and Northern Ireland once again has its own devolved government, called the Northern Ireland Assembly.
In my opinion, it is impossible to understand the history of Northern Ireland without also understanding the history of the island of Ireland. For those of you with a passing interest in Irish History, I have included a concise history of Ireland that will provide you with some background. I have also included the significant milestones in the history of Ireland that have heavily influenced and at times dictated Northern Ireland History. These include the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and the Easter Rising in 1916.
I have visited many countries and have been regularly asked to explain why Northern Ireland experienced such horrific violence and bloodshed. It is highly complex and I believe can only be properly explained in the factual context of history. That is the purpose of this website, to help people understand the people of Northern Ireland, the reasons for the conflict, and hopefully others can benefit from our painful experiences.
I will also share my own experiences about what it was like growing up through the troubles, going to school, working and raising a family in a small country ripped apart by sectarianism, bigotry, hatred and violence. I have also been asked simple things like
- How do you make an Irish Coffee?
- What Irish names do you know?
- Did Finn McCool really exist?
- Are there really no snakes in Ireland?
- Where are the best places to visit in Northern Ireland?
I will cover these as well to the best of my ability and at least have some fun trying to explain most of them.
Although Northern Ireland has a short history, it is one of being close to self destruction, yet somehow and the history books will show this, it is also a history of survival and hope. We have hopefully learned a little from our Northern Ireland history, been through the troubles and conflict, and look forward to peace in the coming years.