The Emerald isle of Ireland is like an old friend who greets you with open arms and the warmest of hugs. A friend that opens up its door no matter what the weather is with a welcome smile and a story to be told that makes you feel at home so far away from home.
Where beauty and serenity, laughter and music come together, wrapped up in myths and legends, and sprinkled with fairy dust to make you explode with happiness.
Throw into this mystical mix a landscape dotted with colorful towns and villages, dynamic vibrant cities, rugged wild coastlines and let’s not forget the happiest sheep in the world that graze its green hills. And with that you will begin to understand this islands magic as with every turn you take there is yet another experience to discover and most importantly, reason to smile. Welcome to Ireland.
Visit Ireland’s vibrant towns and cities
Experience the magical Giant’s Causeway
Discover the hidden gems of this wild rugged coastline
Explore the National Parks of Ireland
Lively Irish traditional music nights
Ireland Tours Reviews
[su_quote cite=”Mary Be”]I went on the Dingle Day Tour and it was amazing! Sean is a funny and uncomplicated guy and he knows the area quite well.[/su_quote]
[su_quote cite=”Lucas A”]Travelling with them is pure fun and you have lots of information about local culture. I hope I can travel with them lots of times more. [/su_quote]
[su_quote cite=”Nancy S”]I found the perfect tour to see the Dingle Peninsula without sitting on a bus all day. Our guide provided plenty of time so that we could explore quiet scenic places [/su_quote]
The Ireland Story
Sitting on the edge of the wild Atlantic there is an island still largely undiscovered by people from elsewhere. Forged by the elements, nature has painted spectacular seascapes and landscapes with a wild and rugged coastline of steep cliffs rolling into the ocean and wide sandy beaches.
Steeped in rich ancient history, Celtic and early Christian heritage this is a unique island where you will find a warmth and cadence of greeting that’s unmistakable and unforgettable. Maybe it’s that living culture, deep-rooted and handed down through generations, which gives this island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean such a strong creative spirit. Maybe it’s the simple, natural vibe that lets you slow down and go-with-the-flow. Or is it the thriving and unbroken traditions of folklore and storytelling, arts, brightly coloured houses, food, language and the distinctive atmosphere of the good olde Irish pub where people of all ages gather to celebrate the joy of music and dance.
Whatever it is, Ireland will inspire, amaze and stay forever rooted in your heart.
- Ireland’s landmass has a total area of 84,412 square kilometres, with its coastline stretching for 3152km. Its longest river is the Shannon (358km), largest lake Lough Neagh (387 square kilometres) and its highest point is Carrauntoohil in Kerry (1038m).
- The capital of Ireland is Dublin.
- Since 1921 the country has been divided into what’s now called the Republic of Ireland, consisting of 26 counties, and Northern Ireland, subject to devolved British rule, which comprises six counties.
- The Republic’s population is roughly 4.6 million, with 1.8 million residing in the Greater Dublin area, while Northern Ireland’s population is approximately 1.8 million, with some 650,000 occupying the Greater Belfast area.
- Irish is the national language of the Republic, according to the constitution, with English recognized as a second official language.
[su_box title=”Facts” box_color=”#de4e00″]
Country: Republic of Ireland
Province: Leinster, Munster, Connaught and Ulster
Counties: 26 counties in total
Area and Population Size: 4.6 million
Climate: Temperate climate with mild summers and cool winters
In Mor Active, we believe in a one to one relationship with each of our travellers. In order to make you feel “at home” even before you set foot on our shores, we would like to share with you, the history of our land.
Like every country, Ireland too, has been shaped by its past, from the period of Pre-Celtic to modern day, Ireland has evolved, but still retains its traditional values and its respect for its unique environment.
[expand title=”” tag=”div” alt=”read more”]
The earliest signs of human life in Ireland date back from 7 500 B.C., during this era, the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age, the first primitive settlers were hunter gatherers and fishermen.
The Neolithic or New Stone Age (3 500 B.C.) marked the start of a proper civilization with the concept of agriculture; the farming of crops and breeding of animals enabled people to become sedentary.
The Bronze Age (2 000 B.C.) replaced the use of stone by the skilled craftsmanship of different metals including gold; a period of renewal leading to the Iron Age (250 B.C.) during which a Celtic group, the Gaeils eventually reached the Irish shores. They had by A.C. 400 conquered the whole of Ireland and were to dominate it for nearly a thousand years.
The Gaelic dynasty was divided into four provinces: Connaght, Ulster, Leinster and Munster. The 5th one: Mide (county Meath) was merged with Leinster following the Norman invasion. They represented the four most influential Irish dynastic families and were named after them. The country was also divided into 150 minor kingdoms, each of them ruled by a king; and the society was composed of no less than 27 classes with the Provincial Kings, Lawyers, Druids and Poets at the top of the scale.
Another major aspect of the history of Ireland was that it was never under Roman domination, and thus it established its own language, currency and rules. It was a culture without a state.
It is said that Christians were already present on the island in the early 5th century; it is at that time that Pope Celestine sent Bishop Palladius in A.D. 431 to ‘visit the Christians of Ireland’. Saint Patrick however was the first real missionary to spread the Gospel to pagans on the island. He was originally from Britain and was captured by an Irish raider. Six years later escaping he returned to Britain and became a priest and a bishop and made the decision to go back to Ireland to pursue his mission.
Due to the absence of towns, the Church was represented by monasteries, widely recognised for their educative and disciplinary virtues. The book of Kells kept in Trinity College is an artefact dating from that era, a manuscript of the Four Gospels written by the monks.
Viking attackers first came to Ireland in A.D. 795 from Norway. They raided the coast and rivers and established settlements and trading which became a major part of the economy.
The Vikings mastered the art of navigation, and attacked the main form of power within the island: the monasteries.
Historically it is viewed that they never achieved total control over Ireland and the battle of Clontarf in 1014 with Ireland’s last High King Brian Boru put an end to their power.
However, Brian did not free Ireland from a Norse (Viking) occupation, simply because it was never conquered by the Vikings. In the last decade of the 8th century, Norse raiders began attacking targets in Ireland and, beginning in the mid-9th century, these raiders established the fortified camps that later grew into Ireland’s first cities: Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, Wexford, and Cork.
Within only a few generations, the Norse citizens of these cities had converted to Christianity, intermarried with the Irish, and often adopted the Irish language, dress and customs, thus becoming what historians refer to as the ‘Hiberno-Norse’. Such Hiberno-Norse cities were fully integrated into the political scene in Ireland long before the birth of Brian. They often suffered attacks from Irish rulers, and made alliances with others. Rather than conquering Ireland, the Vikings, who initially attacked and subsequently settled in Ireland, were, in fact, assimilated by the Irish.
In 1169 MacMurrough, King of Leinster, asked the permission of King Henry II to hire Normans to re-conquer his lost territory. Ireland seemed like a promising land for the Norman expansion and so the King agreed on this invasion whose assault took place under Richard de Clare.
Throughout the 13th century Normans conquered the vast majority of the land. In the mid-14th century the epidemic Black Death allowed the Gaelic resurgence to happen. Indeed the natives living in rural settlements were not affected as badly as English and Normans dwelling in villages and towns. The Norman power shrank to the Pale and liberties, respectively an area around Dublin ruled by the English Crown and territories ran by Norman magnates.
The great Norman branches that were left were the Fitzgerald of Kildare and Desmond, and the Butlers of Ormond. During the 15th century the English attention was caught by the Wars of Roses: the battle to access the English throne between York and Lancaster. The Earls of Kildare were the effective rulers of Ireland and allies of Henry VIII or Henry Tudor.
A constitutional and religious conflict took place under Henry VIII in the 16th Century. He first wanted to conquer and bring Ireland under control as it would not be a threat to England. Under his reign the country became a kingdom instead of a lordship and he was proclaimed King.
The decision to divorce his wife and the refusal of the Pope to annul his marriage led him to create his own Church: the Church of England and proclaimed himself head of it, dissolved the monasteries and obliged Gaelic land owners to give out their possessions to him.
Plantations in 16th and 17th century Ireland were the confiscation of land by the English crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from England and the Scottish Lowlands.
The 16th century plantations were established throughout the country by the confiscation of lands occupied by Gaelic clans and Hiberno-Norman dynasties, but principally in the provinces of Munster and Ulster. The lands were then granted by Crown authority to colonists (“planters”) from England. This process began during the reign of Henry VIII and continued under Mary I and Elizabeth I. It was accelerated under James I, Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, and in their time the planters also came from Scotland.
The Plantations had a profound impact on Ireland in several ways. The present day partition of Ireland into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is largely a result of the settlement patterns of the Plantations of the early 17th century.
The Plantations also had a major cultural impact. Gaelic Irish culture was sidelined and English replaced Irish as the language of power and business. Although, by 1700, Irish remained the majority language in Ireland, English was the dominant language for use in Parliament, the courts, and trade. In the next two centuries it was to advance westwards across the country until Irish suddenly collapsed after the Great Famine of the 1840s.
Finally, the plantations also radically altered Ireland’s ecology and physical appearance. In 1600, most of Ireland was heavily wooded, apart from the bogs. Most of the population lived in small townlands, many migrating seasonally to fresh pastures for their cattle. By 1700, Ireland’s native woodland had been decimated, having been intensively exploited by the new settlers for commercial ventures such as shipbuilding. Several native species such as the wolf had been hunted to extinction. Most of the settler population now lived in permanent towns or villages, although the Irish peasantry continued their traditional practices.
In 1961 Catholics rebelled against Protestants settlers and persecuted around 12 000 Protestants in Ulster. This Rebellion entangled with the English civil war. From 1942 to 1649 a Confederate Ireland ruled the country. In 1649 In Britain a parliamentary victory put an end to the English civil war and was followed by the execution of the King Charles I. Among this victorious parliament Oliver Cromwell decided to reconquer Ireland and avenge the massacre of the Ulster Protestants.
By 1652, Cromwell had managed to control the whole of Ireland but through terrible acts of barbarism and cruelty. He confiscated all the remaining pieces of land owned by Catholics and the Cromwellian plantation subsisted until 20th century which William Petty realised a remarkable accurate work of survey and map.
Williamites and Jacobites war
King James II succeeded to Charles II who did have an heir. His son in law William of Orange took over him by a coup d’état, forcing him to flee to Ireland where he was defeated again.
The Battle of the Boyne in 1690 illustrated the Glorious revolution by William of Orange and opposing Williamites (Protestants) to Jacobites (Catholics). The victory was the starting point to the Protestant Ascendancy.
Protestant Ascendancy and 1798 Rising
At the end of the 18th century, Ireland was ruled by a parliament held in Dublin castle under the control of Great Britain. It was a period of Golden Age for the Protestant Ascendancy (members of the Anglican Church) who owns most of the land acquired during the Plantation. It used the Penal laws to maintain its power and even though some are abolished after 1770 Catholics still protested against tithes they have to pay to Anglican clergy.
The influence of the French and American revolutions as well the rural poverty were all factors leading to the 1798 rising whose leadership was under Theobald Wolfe Tone. Tone was a lawyer from an Anglican family; he had always admired the principles of the French revolution, and worked to improve laws for Catholic people. Disappointed with the reforms for Catholic people, he founded the United Irishmen and sought to take lead of Catholic masses and give a national purpose to defeat the English power. The Rising of 1798 failed due to insufficient organisation and French help who arrived at Bantry Bay (County Cork); Wolfe Tone then killed himself rather being executed. The consequence to this idealism of a republic, which later inspired other risings, is the Act of Union.
Act of Union
In response to the rebellion of 1798, the Act of Union made Ireland part the Britain State and merged the two parliaments together leaving out the Irish legislature. A Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary of Ireland were respectively appointed by the King and Prime minister of Britain. A Test Act was also part of this act, it was meant to remove any remaining discrimination against Catholic; however it was refused by George III willing to preserve the Protestant nature of the State.
Daniel O’Connell, lawyer at the time, was a frustrated politician banned from the Parliament because of his religion. He founded the Catholic Association to bring Catholicism and Irish nationalism together. He was educated in France where the revolutionary events influenced his vision of politics and led him never to use violence judged useless. He mobilised Catholics through the Church and introduced them to politics. In 1829 the Catholic Relief Act allowed Catholic to sit in the Irish Parliament.
The next step after Catholic emancipation was the repeal of the Act of the Union for which he founded the Repeal Association, but it did not succeed
The Great Famine
The Great Famine was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration between 1845 and 1852. It is also known, mostly outside Ireland, as the Irish Potato Famine, called an Gorta Mór meaning “the Great Hunger”.
The Irish dependence on the potato was immense and therefore when a potato blight appeared the overpopulated land ended up with a national Famine lasting for about 10 years during which one million died and another million fled overseas. The U.S., Britain and Australia were the main destinations. It was exacerbated by a host of political, ethnic, religious, social and economic factors which remain the subject of historical debate.
The famine was a watershed in the history of Ireland. Its effects permanently changed the island’s demographic, political and cultural landscape. For both the native Irish and those in the resulting diaspora, the famine entered folk memory and became a rallying point for various Home rule and United Ireland movements, as the whole island was then part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
The massive famine soured the already strained relations between many of the Irish people and the British Crown, heightening Irish republicanism, which eventually led to Irish independence in the next century. Modern historians regard it as a dividing line in the Irish historical narrative, referring to the preceding period of Irish history as “pre-Famine”.
Land war and cultural revival
Members of the Repeal Association formed the Young Ireland movement. Two of its members James Stephens and John O’Mahony then founded the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1858 whose nickname was the Fenians. With no successor to O’Connell they appeared as the descendants of republicanism.
In the wake of the famine, the ‘land war’ started under the Irish National Land League which denounced the unfair Plantation. Leaders such as Charles Parnell and Davitt fought for the realization of the the Fs: Fair rent, Free sale and Fixity of tenure. A series of land acts gave new rights to land settlement and ended the Cromwellian plantation. Parnell by a series of political stratagems brought up the question of Home Rule (self-government for Ireland) on the agenda of the British government. However his involvement in a divorce scandal brutally put an end to his career.
The Famine participated to the decline of the Irish language with Irish speakers either dying or fleeing. The fall of Parnell coincided with what is called the cultural revival: in literature, Gaelic language, and sports. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) promoted Irish sports among which the world famous Hurling and Gaelic football.
At the beginning of 20thcentury Ireland was ruled from London since the Act of the Union in 1800; the Irish members of the Parliament (MPs) sat in the House of Commons and House of Lords in Westminster. The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) or Irish Volunteers led by John Redmond longed for the introduction of the Home Rule: self-government for Ireland. At that time the country was divided between nationalists such the IPP who wanted self-government with a Parliament in Dublin and the unionists like Ulster who were for keeping the system as it was: under British control.
In 1914 the Home Rule Act was passed but as war broke out it was suspended. To ensure the Home Rule after the war, Redmond asked Irish nationalists to support the British war, but with his acceptance of the Home Rule, this declaration was seen as a betrayal. Consequently the Irish Volunteers separated into two groups: the National Volunteers following Redmond and the minority: the Irish Volunteers.
The Easter Rising also known as the Easter Rebellion and referred to erroneously in some contemporary British reports as the Sinn Féin Rebellion, was an armed insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing an independent Irish Republic at a time when the United Kingdom was heavily engaged in World War I. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798.
Organised by seven members of the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Rising began on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, and lasted for six days. Members of the Irish Volunteers — led by schoolteacher and barrister Patrick Pearse, joined by the smaller Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly, along with 200 members of Cumann na mBan — seized key locations in Dublin and proclaimed the Irish Republic independent of the United Kingdom.
The Rising was suppressed after six days of fighting, and its leaders were court-martialled and executed, but it succeeded in bringing physical force republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics. Support for republicanism continued to rise in Ireland as a result of the ongoing war in Europe and the Middle East, especially as a result of the Conscription Crisis of 1918.
Irish War of Independence
In 1905, the creation of a nationalist party: Sinn Fein by Griffith was unnoticed but was to play an important role in the future. On 20th January 1919, it won the majority of MPs and elected its own assembly Dail Eireann. The war of independence started on the same day with the death of two policemen shot by members of the Irish Republican Army former Irish Volunteers.
There were two approaches to the independence: a passive resistance by Sinn Fein and the guerrilla war campaign led by the IRA. The most famous act (later on interpreted in a song by the Irish group U2) is known as Bloody Sunday on 21st November 1920. British agents were killed by the IRA and the revengeful act took place in Croke Park on the same day during a football match killing 12 people.
In 1921, Griffith and Collins leaders of Sinn Fein formed the delegation which achieved the Anglo-Irish Treaty; it declared the status of Dominion of the Commonwealth of Nations for the Irish Free State. The Treaty also separated the Northern six counties which had the tightest link with Britain (the six counties from Ulster which were the most Protestant) from the rest of the country. The following year, Northern Ireland which had the choice to opt out of the Irish Free State to stay within the United Kingdom did so. The Irish Free State officially became the Republic of Ireland and gained its full independence in 1949.
The Irish civil war (1922-1923) illustrated the repression of those Anti-Treaty by those Pro-Treaty. Violent acts were performed mostly by the IRA. In 1932 Eamon De Valera (anti-Treaty) led his new party Fianna Fail (in the tradition of O’Connell and Parnell) to the victory by peacefully being elected at the head of the country in 1932 showing that the conflicts had finally settled. However the forceful triumph of the Catholic Church in the Republic and its powerful influence over many aspects of life was to justify the fear of Protestants concentrated in Ulster.
The Irish Republic and the Troubles in Northern Ireland
The 1960s are a period of tensions and brutality between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
Protestants in Northern Ireland always felt like a minority and in 1968 some reforms for civil rights were seen as unfair to them and as a sign of nationalism which they were against. The IRA posted itself as protector of the Catholics and started a campaign of terror (Michael Collins operated the intelligence network of the IRA) which was to last for about 25 years until the Good Friday agreement in 1998-1999 signed by the two governments. From 1921 to 1972 Northern Ireland was governed by a unionist government based in Belfast. From 1972 to 1998 the Stormont government was replaced by an indirect government operated from London as the capital was judged unsafe.
The Republic of Ireland as doing most of its exports with the United Kingdom had to wait for it to be accepted in the European Economic Community, ex- European Union, to be able to join as well in 1973. From the 1990s until 2007 the Republic of Ireland knew an economic boom, a period of abundant growth and prosperity and turned into a wealthy nation while Northern Ireland remained divided between two different communities politically and religiously opposed.
Articles on Ireland
Read here on Ireland!
At Mór Active we recognize our duty towards providing Responsible Tourism that creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit.
We equally understand that great product ideas may not always be the most appropriate form of local economic development. Therefore, before launching any of our tourism products we make sure that they adhere to our strict principles on Responsible Tourism that include respecting local natural resources, cultural heritage, and human values. We encourage of clients to be aware of their environmental, social and economic impact too.