How Well Do You Know Irish History?


By: Deborah Beckwin

7 Min Quiz

Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Éire - a land of lore, leprechauns, rainbows with pots of gold, fairies, shamrocks, Claddagh rings, Guinness, Jameson, redheads, St. Patrick ...

You'll only find a little bit of lore in this quiz. Just thought it'd be good to get all the stereotypes out of the way.

One thing you probably already know if you're an Irish history buff is how much of Irish history from the 17th century onward centers around resistance against the British rule. Time and again, people rose up for the Emerald Isle and fought, even when Great Britain and Ireland were one kingdom.

The Republic of Ireland has only been so for about 60 years, but the land and people of Ireland have been there for centuries prior.

Ireland currently has over 6.5 million people, with just under five million living in the Republic of Ireland and everyone else living in the UK dominion of Northern Ireland--and this quiz will cover a bit of the history of how that division came to be.

We hope you don't need the luck o' the Irish to get through this quiz, but we'll give you a virtual four-leaf clover anyway. Good luck!

What Latin name did the Romans give the isle of Ireland?

The name Hibernia was given by the Roman historian Tacitus in 98 AD, who based this name from earlier Greek accounts of the island. Hibernia means "land of winter".


Which place is known as the seat of the High King of Ireland?

According to the 11th century book, The Book of Invasions, The Hill of Tara was the seat of the High Kings of Ireland. This hill has the Lia Fáil, known as the Stone of Destiny, Speaking Stone and the Coronation Stone of Tara. This stone was the coronation stone for the High Kings.


According to Irish mythology, who was the first High King of Ireland?

According to legend, Sláine only ruled for one year, either during the 1500s or the 1900s BC. His brother Rudraige ruled for two years after him, and then after his death, their brothers Genann and Gann ruled Ireland for five years.


According to The Book of Invasions, which mythical people are the original ancestors of the Irish?

According to Irish folklore, Milesians arrive to Ireland after leaving Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula). They fight with the Tuatha Dé Danann (i.e., "the people of the goddess Danu" and the ancestors of the fairies). Milesians take the world above while the Tuatha Dé Danann take the Otherworld, also known as Avalon.


Who is considered to be the last High King of Ireland before the Normans invaded the country?

Anglicized as Rory O'Connor, Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair ruled Ireland from 1166 to 1193. His grandson, Brian Ua Néill (Brian O'Neill), was high king of Ireland for a couple of years, from 1258 to 1260 until he was killed in the Battle of Druim-dearg.


Which was considered to be the largest plantation in 17th century Ireland?

English and Scottish settlers came to the province of Ulster after most Gaelic chiefs had ceded the land, with some fleeing the country after the Nine Years' War. The colonists tried to colonize and civilize the more rural Irish folks, which, along the loss of land, created strife between the Catholics and Protestants. These settlers put down the Protestant roots that are still strongly held onto by people of Northern Ireland today.


Who was NOT a part of the Irish Rebellion of 1641?

Fionn mac Cumhaill (anglicized name: Finn McCool) is actually a part of Irish mythology, as a giant hunter-warrior. The Irish Rebellion of 1641 lead to the formation of the Catholic Federation the following summer. The Catholic Federation was the makeshift Irish government for most of the island and acted separately from the British government.


How long did the Irish Confederate Wars go on for?

Only the Great Famine supersedes the lost of life that The Irish Confederation Wars caused. It's estimated that this long conflict cost up to 620,000 lives, with most being civilians who died from disease (e.g., the bubonic plague) or starvation.


Which of these punishments did Oliver Cromwell NOT hand down through his settlement after the war?

Most likely the most hated man in Irish history, Oliver Cromwell was Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, and during the Irish Confederate Wars, he crushed the rebellion and, essentially, the Irish Catholics. Although it's debatable how cruel and brutal he was to civilians during the Irish Confederate Wars, how he treated Irish Catholics after the war is, without question, quite harsh. He only sent those who participated in the rebel group Confederate Ireland to the West Indies, but that was still a five-figure number of people.


Who is considered to be the father of the Irish Republican movement?

In an effort to overthrow British rule of Ireland, Theobald Wolfe Tone helped to lead the unsuccessful and costly Irish Rebellion of 1798, where the death toll is at least 10,000 to possibly 50,000 dead or more. This uprising lasted from May to October 1798, with the French assisting the rebels. Wolf Tone was captured and either slit his own throat or was tortured by British forces and died of his injuries.


In what year were the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland combined?

The Acts of Union 1800 were passed in 1800 by both Britain and Ireland but came into effect on January 1, 1801. It came off the heels of a crushed Irish rebellion which happened three years earlier. These acts are still in effect for Northern Ireland, but were repealed later by the now Republic of Ireland.


Which one of these demands is NOT included in the "Three F's"?

The Three F's were proposed by Tenant Right League, which fought for tenant farmer rights in Ireland. The resulting Land War lasted from the 1870s to the 1900s, with many laws passed to increase tenant protections, along with boycotting unfair landlords.


Which Irish political leader was known was "The Emancipator" or "The Liberator"?

Through the Catholic Association, Daniel O'Connell fought for Catholic emancipation so that Irish Catholics could be free of the restrictions of the British laws preferring those who were a part of the Church of England. This included the banning of Catholics to sit at Westminster Parliament and to repeal the Act of 1800, which combined the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland. O'Connell was a member of parliament Dublin and County Cork, as well as Lord Mayor of Dublin.


Which Irish revolutionary was captured and killed in 1803 by the British?

Robert Emmet, along with Thomas Russell and James Hope, led an unsuccessful Irish rebellion in Dublin on July 23, 1803. Fighting happened through the night, with 50 rebels and 20 military men dead. Afterward, Emmet fled and to be near his love, Sarah Curran, he left his hiding place and was captured, later to be executed by the British government for high treason.


How long did the Great Famine last?

The Great Famine started in 1845 and ended in 1849, due to a number factors including the limited rights of Irish Catholics, laws around land ownership and renting, the potato and Irish dependence on potatoes. These factors, exacerbated by the British government response (e.g., continuing to export food from Ireland), caused a reduction of Ireland's population by up to 25 percent due to death and mass emigration--mainly to the United States, but also to the UK, Canada and Australia.


In what year did the Fenian Rising occur?

In one of many attempts to throw off British rule, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, which was a part of the Fenians, a group who believed that Ireland would only gain independence by force. This rising started in Dublin, Cork and Limerick and other parts of Ireland, but the uprising dissipated quickly since most of the leaders had already been arrested by British forces. But it was a symbolic step for the cause of Irish independence.


How many months did the Dublin Lockout last?

To protest dismissal of union workers by William Martin Murphy on Aug. 19, the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union went on strike on August 26, 1913. Union workers wanted to organize because poverty and illness plagued Dublin workers. After protests, some of them becoming violent due to strike breakers and police, the lockout ended on January 18, 1914, since most workers facing starvation went back to work stating they wouldn't join a union.


On what day did the Easter Rising begin?

On Monday, April 24, 1916, rebellion leaders Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, along with the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Citizens Army and women of the paramilitary group Cumann na mBan seized key parts of Dublin, declaring an Irish republic. Although this conflict last for a week, close to 500 people died and many more were wounded. After the Easter Rising, people who were either ambivalent or hostile to the Irish rebellion were swayed to their side.


When was the marriage bar in Ireland removed?

Although Ireland fought for independence from the UK, this didn't seem to extend to women--even though some fought side by side with men in the early 20th century. This marriage bar, enacted in 1932, prevented married women from entering Civil Service as well as other jobs in private companies. After 1973, there were two other acts passed in 1977 and 1998 that ensured gender equality in the workplace.


When was Ireland partitioned into what is now Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?

On May 3, 1921, the partition of Ireland was established, with six counties in the northeastern part of the island: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone, forming Northern Ireland. This came from the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which was meant to have two separate dominions, both within the United Kingdom. This act had provisions for the eventual reunification of Ireland, but after the Irish War of Independence and the establishment of the Irish Free State, there was an option for those who wished to still be united with the UK, which Northern Ireland residents chose to do.


How long did the Irish War of Independence last?

Also known as the Anglo-Irish War, the Irish War of Independence stemmed from the Easter Rising insurrection with battles between the Irish Republican Army and British troops. Much of the fighting happened in Belfast, Dublin and County Cork, with over 1,000 deaths and over 4,500 Irish Republicans interned. A ceasefire was signed on July 11, 1921.


What treaty created the Irish Free State and ended a war of independence?

This treaty between Britain and Ireland was signed on December 6, 1921, ending the Irish War of Independence. This agreement was enacted the following year in Ireland on December 6, 1922 with the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922.


This political leader is known as the founder of the Republican political party Sinn Féin.

Arthur Griffith wrote "The Sinn Féin Policy," calling for Irish members who were members of British parliament to come home and self-govern. He later gave the leadership of the party to Éamon de Valera. He later became a member of parliament (MP) and then President of Dáil Éireann, a breakaway government from Britain.


In what years were the Irish Civil war fought?

Irish nationalists, such as Irish leader Michael Collins, wanted to use the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 as a step towards independence, even if that meant being a part of the British Empire for the time being. But Irish republicans, like political leader and future President of Ireland Éamon de Valera, did not want any kind of British involvement in the governance of Ireland. One lasting legacy of this costly war is that the two major political parties in Ireland, Fianna Fáil (founded by de Valera) and Fine Gael, derive from the two opposing sides.


When did the Irish Free State become "Ireland" under Irish law?

After there was a nationwide referendum on July 1, 1937, the new Constitution of Ireland was enacted on December 29, 1937. This replaced the Constitution of Irish Free State, but also replaced the language of the Irish Free State with "Éire" (Irish for Ireland). This was an important distinction because this name change declared that Ireland was a sovereign state, since Irish Free State denoted that this country was still a part of the British Empire.


In what year did Ireland officially become a republic?

On April 18, 1949, the 33rd anniversary of Easter Rising, the Republic of Ireland came into being when the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 was enacted. This act repealed the External Relations Act of 1936. This new act transferred the powers of the King into the President of Ireland.


When did "The Troubles" officially begin?

Since Ireland was partitioned in 1921, Northern Ireland experienced tension between the mainly Protestant unionist majority and the sizable, primarily Catholic nationalist minority. Nationalists, partly inspired by the American civil rights movement, formed the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), and took to the streets of Derry/Londonderry to protest being discriminated against on October 5, 1968. This violent skirmish between protestors and police is considered to be the official start of the Troubles, where over 3,500 people have died and over 50,000 people have been injured.


In what year did "Bloody Sunday" of the Troubles occur?

On January 30, 1972, 28 unarmed protestors took to the streets of Derry/Londonderry in a demonstration against the internment of suspected IRA members by the British Army. Fourteen people were killed, others were injured. The killings created more animosity towards the British Army and boosted enrollment in the IRA. In 2010, British prime minister David Cameron formally apologized on behalf of the UK, saying the killings were both "unjustified" and "unjustifiable".


What agreement between Britain and Ireland gave Ireland governing power in Northern Ireland for the first time?

As an effort to end the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Britain's Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and Ireland's Taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald, signed an agreement that gave Ireland a role to advise in Northern Ireland's. It also stipulated that Northern Ireland would remain within the United Kingdom unless its citizens voted to join the Republic of Ireland. It unfortunately didn't end the Troubles, with both unionists and nationalists opposing the agreement, but it did improve government relations between Britain and Ireland.


In what year was the Good Friday Agreement agreed upon?

Also known as the Belfast Agreement, on Good Friday, April 10, 1998, this agreement helped to ease the decades-long conflict of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The people of Ireland and Northern Ireland both voted in referendums in favor of allowing their respective governments to enact these agreements. The agreement spells out the political and governmental relationships Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.


When was the St. Andrews Agreement created?

The St. Andrews agreement between the British and Irish governments focused on governance and sharing political power between Irish unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland. The following year, the Northern Ireland Assembly was restored, with a Northern Irish First Minister and an Irish Deputy First Minister heading the Northern Ireland Executive, Northern Ireland's administrative branch of government.


Who was Ireland's first female president?

Mary Robinson was Ireland's seventh president, serving for five years of her seven-year term to serve as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. As president, she signed a bill to decriminalize homosexuality and another bill to increase the availability of contraceptives.


During the mid-'90s through the mid-'00s, Ireland experienced an economic boom known as what?

The Celtic Tiger brought 12 years of prosperity and economic expansion to the Emerald Isle. Before, Ireland had been experiencing low growth and high unemployment, poverty and inflation. In the wake of the global economic downturn of 2008, Ireland went into a recession in September of that year.


In what year did Ireland adopt the Euro?

Ireland has had some sort of currency since the 10th century. The Euro and the Irish pound were used co-currently starting on January 1, 1999, when the Euro was adopted and given superiority. On January 1, 2002 was when the Euro began circulation in Ireland and Irish currency was beginning to be withdrawn by the government.


In what year did Ireland legalize same-sex marriage?

By a nearly 2 to 1 margin, the people of Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage via the Marriage Equality Act on May 22, 2015. After two legal challenges in the Court of Appeal, the President of Ireland signed the Marriage Act into law on August 29, 2015. The Marriage Equality Act was effectively the 34th amendment to Ireland's constitution, which was amended on November 16, 2015.


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