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Ireland 2007: Day 2, First Lecture

After lunch, Professor Finnegan treated us by explaining the historical relationship between the East and West parts of the country.

In the 1500s (by the way I'm paraphrasing) the English came for the third time and enacted the Penal Laws - which deprived the native Celtic people of property, land, service in govt., etc. Unless the natives converted to Protestantism, they lost everything. 90% of the land prior to the "invasion" was owned by Celts and by the time the famine came along 90% was owned by Church of England Protestants.

Post-famine, the natives sought out their own identity and they used the following to build a story of Irish history and an Irish Nationalism: Celtic heritage, Roman Catholicism and the Irish Language (Gaelic). Ultimately in 1922 the country achieved autonomy from Britain. Although a vast majority of the emigrees during the famine were from the west (which is the part of the country still speaking Gaelic), which explains why the native language is no longer predominant. We also heard about the role that monasteries played in Irish history. (Again I paraphrase and do not do Richard justice!) His comments were very enlightening and he entertained questions from his audience.

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