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Past events in Ireland often created disarray in British politics, the Irish question featured strongly in the international policies of Spanish and French governments for hundreds of years, and Irish soldiers played significant parts in battles in many countries, from the Thirty Years War to the American Civil War. Yet, Irish history remains elusive.
For the greater part of a millennium, while Europe seethed, churned and changed, Ireland did not function as an independent national state. The history of Ireland tends to become the history of England-in-Ireland, and to wrench it away is not easy. But an effort has been made, in writing this book, to always bear in mind that the enduring underlying element - indeed what gives Ireland a history - is the Irish people.
Inhabitants of the same island from time immemorial, inheritors and passers-on of a distinct and valuable cultural tradition, often silenced for generations at a time by the noise of lately-come proprietors, the Irish people have succeeded in maintaining a clear identity for a very long time.
This original and very readable history tells their story from prehistoric times to the present day. Fact 'windows' in the text light up many fascinating aspects of Irish history and a chronology gives a concisely written overview of Ireland's major political, cultural and religious trends.