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6 Partition and Civil War, 1911 to 1926

Ian N. Gregory Indiana University Press ePub

6

By the beginning of the twentieth century, division had emerged as the primary motif of Irish society. There were many reasons, both economic and social, for this, but their impact was to divide Catholic from Protestant both psychologically and geographically. The last all-Ireland census occurred in 1911, as Partition was to follow in 1921. The next census took place in both parts of the newly divided island in 1926. From a census perspective, however, 1911 can be regarded as a new beginning, as, despite the fact that since then there have been two separate censuses, sometimes taken in different years, these enumerations provide a number of advantages over those that preceded 1911. The main advantage is that more spatial detail is provided on the geographies of religion that, along with many other variables, are reported at the urban and rural district levels. As described in chapter 1, this provides more districts and also shows the difference between urban areas and their rural counterparts.

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5 Toward Partition, 1860s to 1910s

Ian N. Gregory Indiana University Press ePub

5

It is clear that the Great Famine of 1845–51 had a profound effect on Ireland, leaving its mark on a significantly altered and diminished society. It is also clear that the Famine’s impact was not uniform across the entire island. The death and dispersal it caused were catastrophic, but the processes it set in train were just part of an ongoing demographic tragedy for Ireland. The extent to which the Famine was a watershed in these events, or simply acted to accelerate preexisting trends, remains controversial. Nevertheless, it is clear that in the second half of the nineteenth century—the post-Famine period—significantly different paths were followed by the northern and southern parts of Ireland. This led to a divide that encompassed economic, political, ethnonational, and religious aspects, and all of these had distinct and interrelated geographies. This mix would explode in the early twentieth century.

Mary Daly’s book The Slow Failure deals with independent Ireland’s continued population decline in the twentieth century.1 The fall in population that she discusses was a continuation of an ongoing trend that had been set in place by the Great Famine and that gathered pace during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Despite the virulence of the demographic hemorrhage, it soon became apparent that the differing spatial impacts of the Famine earlier noted were leading to lasting differences in the event’s historical footprint.

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8 Toward the Celtic Tiger: The Republic, 1961 to 2002

Ian N. Gregory Indiana University Press ePub

8

Up to this point the story of the south of Ireland’s economic fortunes has been characterized by an agricultural economy blighted by stagnation and failure. From the beginning of the 1960s a series of policy changes would occur in the Republic that would have profound consequences for the state not simply in the economic sphere but in the social, political, demographic, and even religious realms. It may, at first glance, be tempting to view the period from 1961 to 2002 in terms of a linear path toward economic and social maturity, but such a simplistic teleological interpretation bears little resemblance to what was an extremely turbulent period in the state’s short history.

The 1950s in the Republic of Ireland has come to be seen as a time of economic and social stagnation. By that time people could reflect on the bitter reality that over the thirty years since independence, the state had failed in its primary obligation—to provide the economic means for people to remain living in their own country. De Valera’s 1943 dream of a land of cozy homesteads was instead a place of empty homesteads, much of the “sturdy youth” having departed for New York, London, or Manchester.1 More than four hundred thousand people left the south of Ireland between 1951 and 1961, most of them because of economic necessity.2 Yet it was the sense of failure that crystallized in this decade that led to a renewed determination to resolve the Republic’s ongoing population crisis.3

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10 Communal Conflict and Death in Northern Ireland, 1969 to 2001

Ian N. Gregory Indiana University Press ePub

10

The conflict in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles started in the late 1960s and largely ended following the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement of 1998, although a decade later violence continued to occur, albeit at a much reduced level. The violence led to over 3,500 deaths. This could be argued to be a small figure, far outweighed in importance by other causes of death such as cancer and heart disease. Even as a percentage of the population it may seem small, coming to only 0.23 percent of Northern Ireland’s population. If this seems like a small figure, however, its numerical significance can be shown by calculating what this would mean if it were applied to British or U.S. populations. A similar death rate in Britain would lead to approximately 130,000 deaths, which equates to the loss of a town like Brighton or Peterborough. In the United States, with its larger population, the equivalent would be approximately 500,000 deaths, comparable to total U.S. military deaths in World War II. From this perspective, it is clear that conflict and violence have led to significant numbers of deaths in Northern Ireland. Moreover, as we will demonstrate, conflict-related killings were geographically concentrated in certain places, including parts of Belfast, some sections of mid-Ulster, and rural areas near the border such as south Armagh. This meant that the direct traumatic impact of the conflict was disproportionately felt by a relatively few communities.

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1 Geography, Religion, and Society in Ireland: A Spatial History

Ian N. Gregory Indiana University Press ePub

1

Even today, more than a decade after the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement, which marked an end to the Troubles, the visitor to Northern Ireland cannot help but be struck by the interplay between religion, ethnonational identity, politics, history, and geography. Protestant areas are demarked by the Union Flag (the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, formerly the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland), backed up by red, white, and blue curbstones and murals representing events such as the Battle of the Boyne and the Siege of Derry. Protestantism is seen as synonymous with the politics of unionism and loyalism, which have the union with Great Britain and loyalty to the British Crown as their core tenets. Orange parades further emphasize these links—Orangemen march to church in a symbolic way that makes explicit the links between their religion, politics, history, and, most controversially, territory. So too in Catholic areas, except the flags are those of the Republic of Ireland, the curbstones are green, white, and orange, and the murals tend to focus on the sufferings and tribulations of the Gaelic Irish population from the Norman Conquest all the way through to the recent Troubles.1 Catholicism is seen as synonymous with Irish nationalism and republicanism, which have sought to remove British influence from Ireland.

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