Introduction to Northern Ireland
Situated on the northeast of the island of Ireland, Northern Ireland
King Henry VIII declared Ireland his in 1542 and this began centuries of resistance by the Irish to colonial rule.
The hostility between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland was part of a larger set of political machinations by Kings and Popes in England, Scotland, and continental Europe.
The violent years of uprising, including the Easter Uprising of 1916 and the later “Troubles” (late 1960s until the end of the century), arose from the tensions of colonization and the different Christian religions practiced by those identifying as English or Scottish.
A part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland remains a separate political entity to the rest of Ireland.
The culture of Northern Ireland has symbolized and emphasized a deliberate way of defining Protestants from Catholics. Parades, or “marching season” has become a way of displaying and making prominent the different cultural identities of Northern Ireland. Flags are a major way in which these symbols of identity are displayed on the streets.
The Troubles murals in several cities and towns show the battles waged and the martyrs created during the civil war. These are progressively being painted over as new generations choose to live without the reminders of the recent violent past.
But music, poetry, mythology and folklore – not to mention football – continue to be strong traditions that thrive in the 21st century.