Introduction / History
The Irish people have contributed significantly to European and world history, especially through preserving literacy and maintaining a Christian witness in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, and in the development of North America and Australia in the last two centuries.
Ireland increasingly came under English rule from the Middle Ages onwards. The whole island was politically united with Britain in 1801. During a series of conflicts in the early 1920s, Ireland was partitioned (between north and south) and the territory which now forms the Republic of Ireland gained self-government. Northern Ireland, which continues to form part of the United Kingdom, experienced an intense and prolonged 30-year conflict – known as the Troubles in the late 20th Century, followed by a successful peace process and the formation of a cross-community government.
What are their lives like?
English is the everyday language for most Irish people. The Irish language (Gaelic) is taught in all primary and secondary schools in the Republic and many schools in Northern Ireland. Family life is important and brothers and sisters are close, often living nearby. Ireland has an advanced economy, driven by inward investment in towns and cities, but a relatively large number of people continue to live in rural areas and are involved in agriculture.
Tourism is a major source of income. Gaelic football, hurling, rugby and soccer are popular sports, and the Irish people are well-known for their hospitality and creativity.
What are their beliefs?
Christianity was established in Ireland by Patrick in the 5th Century AD; the island's culture has until recently been heavily influenced by Roman Catholicism and, to a lesser extent, Protestantism after the Reformation. The majority of Irish people describe their religious identity as Roman Catholic although due to the rapid rise of secularism, many have only a nominal faith. Irish Protestants attend or are affiliated to a range of churches, from long-established denominations – e.g. Church of Ireland (Anglican), Presbyterian and Methodist – to more recently formed independent fellowships.
Pray that nominal and secular Catholics and Protestants will give their lives to Jesus Christ.
Pray for continued political and economic stability.
ReferencesView Irish in all countries.
Act of Union (Ireland) Act 1800 – effective from 1 January 1801: www.legislation.gov.uk/aip/Geo3/40/38
Government of Ireland Act 1920: www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/10-11/67/contents/enacted
Constitution of the Irish Free State 1922: www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/1922/act/1/schedule/2/enacted/en/html
Conflict Archive on the Internet, Ulster University: https://cain.ulster.ac.uk
Saint Patrick Centre, Downpatrick, County Down: www.saintpatrickcentre.com
Census 2016 (Republic of Ireland) – Irish Travellers, Ethnicity and Religion: www.cso.ie/en/csolatestnews/presspages/2017/census2016profile8-irishtravellersethnicityandreligion
Exemption from Irish, Citizens Information Service (Republic of Ireland): www.citizensinformation.ie/en/education/the_irish_education_system/exemption_from_irish.html
Irish medium schools, Department of Education (Northern Ireland): www.education-ni.gov.uk/articles/irish-medium-schools (the Irish language is also taught in most Catholic maintained schools which form a large part of Northern Ireland's education system and in several other settings in schools and community groups)