Ireland O'rama(Irelandorama)
Images of Ireland

French version
(click images to enlarge)

Tempted to visit the island of Ireland, sometimes called the "Emerald Isle" since it conjuguates so many variations of green ?

This website attempts to give you an idea of Irish country with more than 100 photographs made in August 2004 during our one-week trip in South Ireland ( Republic of Ireland or Eire in Gaelic language), along with a brief summary of Ireland's history.

Rests of 14 adults were found during excavations made in 1986 under this gravestone

Some images appear in grey tones, since Irish weather is overcast about half of the time, rapidly alternating dark intervals with bright ones. Yet, it is a very pleasant climate, temperate thanks to Atlantic mild winds and Gulf Stream, where summers are cool but not cold, and winters very mild.

What makes Ireland such an attractive touristic destination ? Mainly its preserved and beautiful natural environment.

Ireland has long been a poor rural country with a low population density that has remained untouched by industrialization and intensive modern agriculture. It is now developing a more modern economy that has so far respected the quality of its environment, recognized to be a key factor of development. Boosted by tourism activity, Ireland's economic policy promotes expansion of clean agriculture and industry.

Poulnabrone dolmen (~2500 B.C.)
on Burren plateau


Needless to say that the reputation for friendliness and hospitality of Irish people is not overrated. A summary of Irish history shows how much passion they had to have for their land to be able to resist during seven centuries to British rule in Ireland and finally gain their independence in 1920.


At the western extremity of Europe, Ireland long remained the last Celtic bastion before being successively invaded by Vikings then English
A little bit of Ireland's history
The Celtic cross is on many Irish graves

Ireland island experienced Stone Age from 6000 to 1750 B.C. then Bronze Age from 1750 to 500 B.C., before being a shelter for Celtic tribes, the Gaëls, thrown out of Europe by Barbarian invaders.


Celtic Ireland


Once it had become a Celtic land, Ireland will not experience any major invasion from 500 B.C. up to 795 .

Thus, it will escape the destruction of Celtic civilization undertaken successively by Germans and Romans, who stopped in Britanny (England), and will develop, over 13 centuries, a specific Gaelic identity.

At that time Ireland was divided into 5 provinces - each one being itself divided into several small kingdoms -, 4 of which still exist and form today's Ireland : Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught.. They were under the authority of a supreme King living at Tara in Meath County which used to form with Westmeath County the 5th province.

On and after the 5th century A.C., Ireland will remain the last bastion for Celtic civilization.

Circular fort (~1500 B.C.)
in Kerry area


The Celtic Irish language is still in use in Ireland nowadays. It can be named "Irish" or "Gaelic" and belongs to the group of Celtic languages which includes "Scots", "Welsh" and "Breton" languages. Even though it has been superseded by English language in everyday speaking, Irish remains today the first official language of Ireland and a strong symbol of national identity. As the visitor may notice, most public inscriptions are written in both languages.  





Christian Ireland

During the 4th and 5th centuries, Irish civilization has had a great influence outside Ireland, when it colonized west of Scotland and of England. From 432 to 461, Ireland was evangelized by Saint Patrick. From the 6th century up to the 11th, it will develop an original organization based on monasticism. During the 6th century, at a time when Europe mainland was devastated by barbarian invasions, many monasteries were created in Ireland, from which famous monks as Saint Colomban or Saint Gall will later set off to rechristianize the European continent


Transitional form between first small circular oratories and subsequent cathedrals

From year 795 on, Ireland will begin to suffer invasions from Danish and Norwegian Vikings. Although they came at first for pillage of Ireland wealth, they will soon settle along the Irish coasts where they founded towns such as Dublin (841).

In 1014, Brian Boru, King of Munster, defeated the Vikings forces allied with the King of Leinster at the battle of Clontarf, on the north shore of Dublin's bay.

This victory was to mark the end of the expansion of Vikings in Ireland where they will definetely become integrated into the Gaelic civilization.

Gallarus oratory (~9th century)
Dingle Peninsula


Anglo-Norman Ireland (1169 - 1539)

In 1159 Henri II, king of England, received from Pope Adrien IV the title of Lord of Ireland .

In 1169, an Anglo-Norman army led by Richard of Clare, alias "Strongbow", penetrates Ireland on the request of Dermot MacMurrough, deposed king of Leinster, in order to help him against the king of Munster. From that date, England was to play a permanent role in Irish history.


From that date, British power will seek to spread its influence in Ireland, either by military strength or by political measures.

The statutes of Kilkenny in 1366 attempted to establish a distinction between Anglo-Normans and Irish local inhabitants by forbidding the former to mix with Irish or to adopt their customs.

However, they will be of little effect, and by the 15th century the area under English influence is limited to a narrow coastal strip from Dundalk in Ulster to Dublin.

The initial castle  built by William de Clare was acquired by the Butler family, Earls of Ormond, who kept it until 1715. From 1631, it was the seat of Irish Parliament. It has been restored by the Irish State

Kilkenny Castle (12th century)


Anglican Reform and English colonization (1539 - 1691)

English hold over Ireland was to become stronger with the forced application in Ireland of Anglican Reform, violent dissolution of monasteries in 1539, proclamation of Henri VIII as King of Ireland, and the beginning of colonization of Ireland , called "Plantation", by English immigrants.

There was then a succession of rebellions from Irish as well as from Catholic "Old English", especially that of the Desmond severely put down by Elisabeth 1st, then that of Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and of Rory O'Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell, who first defeated English army at the battle of Yellow Ford in 1598, before being beaten at the siege of Kinsale in 1601, and forced to submit themselves in 1603. Their exile in 1607, known as "The Flight of the Earls" marked the end of the Gaelic order in Ireland.

Built in 1460, this castle has been restored to its former medieval splendour. Within its grounds the 'Folk Park' recreates 19th century Irish life


From 1649 on Oliver Cromwell will "pacify" Ireland with a great brutality, sending entire regiments to Spane and Portugal (over 30 000 soldiers) and many inhabitants as slaves in West Indies, and confisticating lands of Catholics.

In 1678, the Oates conjuration will end by many executions. In 1685 the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes led many Huguenots to fligth to Ireland where the new King of England, protestant William III of Orange, defeats Catholic dethroned king James II at the battle of la Boyne in 1690, before laying siege of Irish army at Limerick.

The Limerick treaty allowed the besieged soldiers, also named the "Wild Geese", to surrender and to flight to France where they will serve in the King's army.

Bunratty Castle
along the road from Limerick to Ennis


Anglo-Irish hegemony (1691 - 1798)

The Limerick Treaty included guarantees for Catholic rights that will soon be forgotten. Instead, the Penal Laws will severely restrict rights of Catholics : they were not allowed work in the army, justice, trading, administration, nor to buy lands. Moreover Catholics were forbidden to practise and teach their religion.


For some 100 years, Ireland will remain quiet and relatively prosperous.

Nevertheless wealth goes mainly to British landowners, and during this period a high transatlantic emigration begins, especially from Ulster Presbyterians, the "Scots-Irish", who also suffer from British discrimination. They will have a great influence in America : one fourth of American presidents are descended from Scotch-Irish . (...Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton).

After two attempts by French army to invade Ireland in 1796 and 1798, Ireland will build some fifty "Martello" watchtowers along its coasts.

Watchtower in the Mouth of the Shannon

In 1798 the Revolt of the United Irishmen, fomented by Wolfe Tone (1763-1798), who was formerly in exile in France, will be severely suppressed and 30 000 rebels killed .


Ireland in the United Kingdom (1798 - 1921)

In 1800, the Act of Union between Ireland and Great Britain puts an end to Irish Parliament, and Ireland is directly represented at Westminster parliament with 100 deputies and 28 lords.

In 1803 a rebellion lead by Emmett will fell through. Emmett will be hung, but the speech he made during his trial will inspire generations of nationalists to come.

Catholic lawyer Daniel O'Connell, also named "The Liberator of Irish People", was elected as a representative of Clare County in 1823, on a campaign for abrogation of the Act of Union and recognition of Catholic rights. In 1829, he will have the Catholic Emancipation Act voted which allow Catholics to be members of the Parliament.

Emigration to America reaches a high peak with the Great Famine during 1846-1848 : Ireland will lose by death or emigration half of its 8 millions inhabitants.

Eire has for national emblem a music instrument, the Celtic harp (it is shown on back side of Irish euro coins). Traditional music is anchored in Irish culture and is freely played  almost anywhere


In 1858, a revolutionary group, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, was founded whose members were called Fenians, in honour of the Fianna, the ancient Irish warriors. The Fenian movement grew quickly at the same time in the United States and in Ireland.

The year 1869 will see the separation between the Anglican Church and the Government of Ireland. In 1870, Isaac Butt founded the Association for the "Home Rule", of which Charles Parnell, a protestant landowner, will become the popular leader.

Again 1902 gives birth to a new revolutionary movement for freedom, the Sinn Féin ("Ourself"), which will take precedence over the Home Rule at the elections of 1918.

From 1919 to 1920, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) will start a war for independance with a campaign of actions to obstruct English administration of Ireland.

In december 1920, The law "Government of Ireland Act" partitioned Ireland into Southern Ireland - including 26 counties - with a parliament in Dublin and Northern Ireland - including 6 of the 9 counties of Ulster - with a parliament in Belfast. It was accepted by Ulster unionists but rejected by the Sinn Fein which continued its military campaign for a united Irish republic.

Dublin Monument
in memory of Charles Parnell (1846-1891)


Irish independence and partition of Ireland (1920 - today)


Under the Government of Ireland Act, Northern Ireland came into being in the spring of 1921, with a strong Protestant majority.

In december 1921 the London Treaty gave birth to the 26-county Irish Free State. But many IRA members refused the treaty as they wanted an independent Ireland covering all 32 counties. This leads to a civil war that went for almost one year (1921-22)

In 1937 the new state adopts the Gaelic name of Eire.

In 1949 Eire leaves the Commonwealth and changes its official name to Republic of Ireland.

The official flag of the Irish Free State has a meaning of peace. The green represents the Catholics, the orange the Protestants and the white the hope for unity between them
Flag of the Republic of Ireland


Contemporary and European Ireland

Ireland's entry in the European Union in 1973 starts an era of prosperity for Irish agriculture as well as access to new funds for development programs.

L'île d'Irlande a gardé, malgré la partition, sa structure originelle héritée des temps celtiques, en provinces et comtés



Emigration has stopped, but South Ireland has only 3.9 millions inhabitants, for a total of 5.5 millions for the whole island, when estimates of the total number of Irish people in the world, the Irish diaspora, are 60 millions.

Nevertheless, during the XXth century, after the bloody fights for independence, Ireland has experienced a remarkable political stability, and has moved from powerty to prosperity.

Since the beginnings of the nineties, Ireland's economy has developed rapidly, with one of the highest growth rate in Europe thanks to foreign investments - especially in technological areas -, and Ireland today is a place for employment.

Les 4 provinces d'Irlande et leurs Comtés






Photos voyages paysages ambiances et vie sauvage

Copyright © WEB-SY - August 2004
Edition and photographs : Marc GERONDEAU
Legal Notice