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Ireland is one island but two countries. Political and religious factors led to partition between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (UK) in 1921.

I Structure of Ireland

Northern Ireland (sometimes referred to as Ulster) is part of the United Kingdom. Its capital is Belfast.

50% of the population is Protestant, about 40% Catholic.

The Republic of Ireland (sometimes referred to as Eire) is a parliamentary democracy. Its capital is Dublin.

92% of the population is Roman Catholic.

The head of state is Michael D. Higgins.

The Prime Minister is Leo Eric Varadkar.

The Parliament consists of two houses (the Houses of the Oireachtas).

II Historical landmarks

1 From unity…

À noter


Irish diaspora: during the Potato Famine in the 1800's, over 2 million people fled Ireland to try and make a new life in the United States and Canada. Today, an estimated 80 million people worldwide claim some Irish descent.

By the Act of Union (1801), England and Ireland became the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”.

A steady decline (un déclin régulier) in the Irish economy followed in the next decades. Between 1845 and 1849 the Great Potato Famine caused the death of 700,000 people and about a million people emigrated, mainly to the USA.

In 1916, the Irish nationalists unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow (abolir) British rule. Guerrilla warfare against British forces followed the proclamation of a republic by the rebels in 1919.

2 … to partition

The creation of Northern Ireland dates from 1921 when the mainly Protestant counties of Ulster were separated from the newly established Irish Free State.

The Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 gave the Dublin government an official consultative role in Northern Ireland's affairs for the first time.

Negotiations between all political parties and Britain were resumed under the governments of John Major and Tony Blair with the support of President Clinton of the USA. An agreement was reached in April 1998 which was ratified by the people of Northern and Southern ­Ireland in May 1998.

À noter

The IRA stands for the Irish Republican Army. The Provisionals: la branche activiste de l'IRA. The Sinn Féin (Irish for “we ourselves”) is a movement dedicated to the political unification of Ireland.

notez bien

opposed to : hostile à

to split into : diviser en

to trigger off : déclencher

a terrorist movement : une organisation terroriste

a bomb scare : une alerte à la bombe

to plant a bomb :  poser une bombe

a civilian target : une cible civile

to tighten security : renforcer la sécurité

to come to a deadlock : aboutir à une impasse

to come to an agreement : parvenir à un accord 

III Culture

The rock group U2 may be Ireland's loudest cultural export, but of all the arts (parmi tous les arts), the Irish have had the greatest impact on literature. Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, ­William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett and James Joyce are just some of the most famous names. Joyce is regarded as one of the most significant writers in the 20th century.

Since Independence in 1921, the Republic of Ireland has declared itself to be bilingual, and many documents and road signs are printed in both Irish and English.

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