This History of Ireland jewelry collection features 12 Irish symbols that depict important milestones in Irish history. Below is the meaning of each of the History of Ireland symbols that you'll find in this superb collection.
|Circle Of Life|
|The Celtic swirl or the Circle of Life is a symbol without beginning or end. It was carved on various structures that dot the Irish countryside by some of our earliest ancestors, such as the stones at Newgrange. Signifying the cycle of death and rebirth, it represents the pathway that we all take during this life.
Our traditions, beliefs, and heritage have been passed down to the next generation for millennia. Our culture is rich and strong, providing us all a sense of life, faith and hope against obstacles, wherever they may arise.
|Ireland's patron saint, Saint Patrick was not actually Irish by birth. He is most likely from Wales, and was captured by Irish raiders when 16 years of age. The raiders then sold him as a slave to a man named Milchu in Dalriada (what we would call Co. Antrim today).
Patrick worked as a shepherd and herdsman for Milchu. After 6 years of enslavement, he managed to escape and return home. He then entered into the priesthood, as was the tradition in his family. He eventually became a bishop and decided to return to Ireland to spread the word of Christianity and replace the Druidism that he had experienced. During his six years in Ireland, he had learned the Celtic tongue, and became very familiar with the Druid religion.
Whilst in Ireland, Patrick authored two important texts that would change the nation from one of ignorance and illiteracy into one renowned for learning, culture, and Christianity. Patrick died on March 17th, 461. Today, this date is celebrated the world over as Saint Patrick's Day, and is a testament to the influence this great man had on Ireland.
|Monasteries and churches began to dot the Irish landscape from the 6th century onwards. Either as a place of refuge for people and supplies, or as bell towers, these imposing round towers began to appear in the 9th century, and were constructed as late as the 12th century. There has never been agreement as to their actual purpose. More recent studies have favored their use as a bell tower due to problems associated with their use as a defensive hideout.
The door to each tower was always built so that it faced the western door to the church. This fact has enabled archeologists to find destroyed churches when the tower still exists. It is believed that there were approximately 120 of the round towers in existence. Today, only about 20 remain in excellent condition. Due to their colocation with churches and monasteries, they remain an enduring symbol of Christianity in Ireland today.
|Towards the end of the 8th century, the Vikings began to make small raids on Ireland, pillaging the valuables in the monasteries, as well as the towns around them. This continued for the next two centuries, and the raiding parties grew both in numbers and in violence. Eventually, the Vikings founded permanent settlements in Ireland, using those to venture further and further inland in search of new treasure and supplies.
In the 11th century, an attempt to take control of the entire country was thwarted by the armies of Brian Boru at the Battle of Clontarf. However, the Vikings did not leave Ireland, and retained possession of their permanent settlements. We know those settlements today as Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Wexford, and Limerick. Artifacts from these early settlements are still being unearthed today. The influence of the Vikings on Ireland was profound, and Irish society was forever changed.
|The Norman invasion began under an exiled Irish king, Dermot MacMurrough. Seeking to regain his throne in Ireland, MacMurrough requested assistance from King Henry II in England. MacMurrough's forces were quickly victorious, and his throne was taken back. He then named his son as heir to the throne, further cementing his position of power.
Fearing that this new Norman state may prove a threat to his own, King Henry II led an invasion force to Ireland two years later. In 1171, he became the first English king to step foot on Irish soil. His armies forced the Irish Kings to submit to English authority. Henry's youngest son, John, was given the title Lord of Ireland and awarded this new Irish territory in 1185. Ireland then became possessions of the English crown when John eventually succeeded to the English throne in 1199.
|Battle of the Boyne|
|In 1690, the Battle of the Boyne was fought between two English Kings. At stake were the Throne of England, French domination of Europe, and control of Ireland.
King James II was Catholic, while King William was Protestant. The English Parliament had invited William, of the Dutch House of Orange, to displace King James on the English Throne. Their armies met at the Boyne river in Ireland. William had an army of approximately 36,000 soldiers, vastly outnumbering the army of James, who only had 25,000. William accorded James surrender terms, but they were punitive that battle was chosen instead. According to legend, James provided his troops with alcohol the night before the battle to boost their morale. This resulted in his soldiers going to battle hungover and also with inferior weaponry.
James had to return to Dublin, eventually making his way to France, and never stepping foot again on Irish or English soil. Even so, the battle was militarily indecisive, and the war continued. This battle is viewed as a cornerstone in the difficult relations that have existed since between the Catholic and Protestant populace of Ireland, the effects of which are still felt today.
|The United Irishmen was founded in 1791 with the aim of removing religion from politics, by way of supporting the Catholic people. At the time, divisions in the two religions were being used as a tool to defeat both sides in Ireland. These ideas found support on both sides.
In 1797, and with membership of approximately 100,000 people, the leader of the United Irishmen (Theobald Wolfe Tone) tried to land in Ireland with a fleet of French vessels. The landing was unsuccessful due to weather and some poor leadership decisions. Forced to act, the United Irishmen began a revolution in 1798 without the French support. What followed was three months of bloody violence, and the rising eventually failed. In 1803, the United Irishmen was no longer in existence.
|The green, white, and gold of Ireland's tricolor flag includes all her people, regardless of belief. The green represents Ireland's Gaelic traditions, and catholic community, while the orange represents Protestant supporters and their beliefs. The hope of lasting peace between the two groups is signified by the white band that separates the two colors.
While the flag became the national flag only in 1937, its history goes back to 1848. Thomas Meager, the leader of Young Ireland, was the first to publicly display the flag. It was flown above the GPO during the Easter Rising in 1916, and was the "unofficial" Irish flag until 1937.
|Often viewed as a turning point, the famine resulted from repeated failure of the Irish potato crop. At the time, over one third of the country was dependent upon the potato for food and their very survival. When the crops failed due to blight between 1845 and 1852, the effects were devastating.
The British government failed to properly address the crisis, and it is estimated that over one million people perished from starvation and disease, with a further one million emigrating - mainly to America.
|Prior to the famine, most Irish people tended to remain in Ireland, despite the relatively poor conditions experienced by many. However, with little food to eat, mass emigration became not only desirable, but for many a necessity. The emigration continued for decades after the famine, with America and Canada being the two most popular destinations.
The famine ships were notoriously over-crowded and ill-provisioned, some barely had provisions at all. This subjected the immigrants to appalling conditions at sea, and led to the deaths of led to the deaths of countless numbers. Mortality rates of 30% were not uncommon. The 1847 typhus epidemic in Canadian quarantine stations was a direct result of the terrible conditions that many were subjected to onboard these vessels.
|The GPO (General Post Office) is located in the heart of Dublin. During the Easter Rising of 1916 (April 24th) , this building acted as the military headquarters for the Irish Republican Brotherhood - the leaders of the Rising. Before the battle commenced, the Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland was first declared at the GPO. Given the relative might of the British army, the Rising turned out to be a military failure. The building was heavily shelled with artillery for days, including naval artillery from the TSS Helga II. Eventually the GPO caught fire and was completely gutted except for the facade.
After the Rising was quashed, the leaders of the rebellion were executed. The notable exception was Éamon de Valera, who was spared the executioner in part due to his American birth. The harsh treatment of the leadership managed to sway many Irish opinions towards the republican side and independence from England. Bullet holes can still be seen in the facade of the GPO today, and it is the most recognizable symbol of the Easter Rising.
|The Declaration of Independence in 1919 ratified the earlier 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. However it also caused the War of Independence as rival republican factions sought control. This war ended with the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921the War of Independence which formed the initial Irish Free State. Northern Ireland had the option to opt-out of the Free State, and due to its large Protestant population loyal to the crown, it chose to do just that in 1922.
This had the effect of partitioning those six counties into Northern Ireland, operated as a province of the UK. The remaining 26 counties became the Irish Free State, and later in 1948, the Republic of Ireland. The split between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland continues to this day, however "the troubles" have since given way to peace.
Now that you know the meanings of all of the History of Ireland symbols, be sure to see our complete selection of this fantastic jewelry collection! Each piece makes a perfect Irish gift!