An island people the Irish may be, yet the history of Ireland has never been intolerant or inward-looking. Instead, it is a story of a people profoundly aware of the wider world – its threats, its possibilities and its advantages.
In addition, while the English and British connection will always remain key to any reading of Irish history, an array of other powers, including Spain, France, the papacy and the United States, have left their mark on the nation. In its turn, Ireland has reached out to influence the world: playing a part in Europe’s bitter power struggles; influencing the evolution of British parliamentary democracy; and helping to shape the growth of the United States into a global superpower.
Here are just a few key moments that have helped to define the course of Irish history:
1) The Coming of the Gospel to Ireland
The spread of Christianity in fifth-century…
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