"A good start is half the work"
- Irish Proverb
We are very excited to be travelling again, this time to Ireland!
Our flight to Dublin (via Toronto) leaves mid-day tomorrow, so no crazy early morning required. This trip is shorter than our usual ones, just 12 days from start to finish, but still time to see a variety of the country, and, we are sure, to have many pints of Guinness!
We will start our trip in Dublin - and yes, we have our timed entry to the Guinness Storehouse 😊, and then head out on a 3 day tour of southwest Ireland. Then it's back to Dublin for a few days, followed by several days in Belfast.
Like many North Americans, I have Irish ancestry. I grew up with my maternal grandmother telling us we were Irish (she was a Murphey), and according to ancestry DNA I'm around 1/2 Irish (the rest mostly English and Scottish). My closest relative who was born in Ireland is my great-grandmother on my father's side, who was from Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. We haven't been able to trace the Murpheys back to Ireland, so we don't know where they
My Irish Great Grandmother
She was born in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
came from or when they left (the trail ends with my great great-grandfather who was born in the US in the 1830s). Various other ancestors were apparently from Doonaha, County Clare, and County Limerick.
So many have Irish ancestry because of the millions who emigrated from Ireland over the years, including of course, during the Great Famine in the mid 1800s (it's estimated one million Irish died in the famine, and around two million were forced to emigrate). Ireland has a long, and fraught, history with Britain, and British policies definitely contributed to the famine, and to Irish emigration. Beginning with the Norman Invasion of 1169 the English ruled Ireland until the treaty of 1921 (following the Irish War of Independence) which basically partitioned Ireland into the Irish Free State (made up of 26 of the 32 counties in Ireland), and Northern Ireland (made up of the remaining 6 counties), which stayed part of the United Kingdom. In 1948 the Irish Free State became a republic and was finally independent from the UK.
I tend to think of Ireland as one country, but of course it isn't. The Republic of Ireland is predominantly Catholic (around 78 percent, with
Protestants only around 2.6 percent), and is part of the European Union, and so the currency used is euros. Northern Ireland is around 48 percent Protestant and 45 percent Catholic, and is part of the United Kingdom, and so the currency used is British pounds.
I grew up in the 1970s hearing about "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland, when the Irish Republican Army reasserted itself (the original IRA had begun as an organization in the Irish War of Independence). The IRA began a violent campaign to kick Britain out of Northern Ireland and to unite all of Ireland. The movement started with peaceful civil rights marches, but the violent reaction of the police and the army led to the IRA pretty much declaring war on Britain, and the violence of the Troubles had begun. The conflict was along sectarian lines, Republicans (also called Nationalists), who were mostly Catholic, versus Loyalists (also called Unionists), who were mostly Protestant, with violent paramilitary groups on both sides. The Troubles lasted until the Good Friday agreement of 1998, which allowed for power to be shared between Nationalist and Unionist parties. The agreement acknowledged that the majority of people in Northern Ireland wanted to
remain part of the United Kingdom, but that a substantial number did not, and that in the future if a majority of people (in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland) wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join the Republic, then the governments of Britain and Ireland were under an obligation to make that happen. So perhaps in the future, Northern Ireland will no longer be part of the UK, and Ireland will be united at last.
When we're in Belfast we are going on a "Conflicting Stories" political walking tour, which is led by Republican and Loyalist ex-political prisoners. Half of the walk is with a Republican guide, and the other half is with a Loyalist guide. It will be really interesting to hear about the Troubles from people who were involved in it, on opposite sides.
Of course there is a lot more to Ireland than the Troubles, and we are looking forward to seeing this beautiful country, meeting its friendly people, and drinking lots of Irish beer. Sláinte!
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See you in Dublin!
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