In the Stone and Bronze Ages, Ireland was inhabited by Picts in
the north and Erainn in the south. The Romans never reached Ireland,
and when the rest of Europe sank into the decline of the Dark. Ages
after the fall of the empire, the country become an outpost of European
Civilization, particularly after the arrival of Christianity, between
the 3rd and 5th centuries.
The English King, Henry II was recognized by the pope as Lord of
Ireland and he took Waterford in 1711, declaring it a royal city.
English power was consolidated under Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.
By the Act of Union (1801), England and Ireland became the
"United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland."
The Irish Free State was established as a dominion on December 6,
1922, with the six northern counties remaining as part of the United
Kingdom. The constitution of 1937 changed the nation's name
to Ιire. Ireland was neutral in World War II.
The Republic of Ireland was proclaimed on April 18, 1949. The country
withdrew from the Commonwealth, but in 1955 Ireland entered the
United Nations. In 1998 hope for a solution to the troubles in Northern
Ireland seemed palpable.
A landmark settlement, the Good Friday Accord of April 10, 1998,
came after 22 months of intensive negotiations that involved eight
of the ten Northern Irish political parties.
Chaired by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, the talks were advanced
by a high(-profile set of mediators, including British Prime
Minister Tony Blair, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, and President
Bill Clinton.The accord called for Protestants to share political
power with the minority Catholics, and gave the Republic of Ireland
a voice in Northern Irish affairs. The resounding commitment to
the settlement was demonstrated in a dual referendum on May 22:
the North approved the accord by a vote of 71% to 29%, and in the
Irish Republic 94% favored it.