Ireland in 2009 – a new year usually also means a new list of anniversaries. Some of them of interest for the specialist historian only. Some of them a good excuse to adjust your travel plans. After all ... who are we mere mortals not to congratulate „Uncle Arthur“ on his 250th? Here are some celebrations you might want to join in in 2009 ...
1609 – Half a Million of Ulster Acres „Made Available“
After the „Flight of the Earls“, Ulster‘s future was in English and Scottish hands – 400 years ago 500,000 acres of the best land were earmarked for „plantations“, colonies in all but name. With them came faction fighting, sectarianism and the great plantation castles. Like Tully Castle and Monea Castle in County Fermanagh, stately reminders of Ireland‘s troubled past
1759 – Arthur Guinness Signs the Lease on St. James Gate Brewery
250 years ago „Uncle Arthur“ took the plunge and moved his brewery business from rural Kildare to the Dublin suburbs. Leasing a near-derelict brewery at St. James Gate for a mere 9,000 years seems to be a bit short-sighted, but we still have 8,750 years of the good stuff coming from St. James Gate. Join in the celebrations at the Guinness Storehouse, a place of pilgrimage where „a pint of plain is yer only man“
1759 – Work Starts on the Provost‘s House in Trinity College
Also 250 years ago the builders started to erect one of Dublin‘s more intellectual landmarks – the Provost‘s House in Grafton Street, just right of the entrance to Trinity College. While the famous sights of Trinity College, Dublin‘s „place of Protestant learning“ are among the most-photographed in Dublin, this little gem is often overlooked or simply provides a picturesque background to the music-hall-style statue of „Molly Malone“.
1784 – An Post Arrives
225 years ago the Irish government made a provision for a state postal service, later to be integrated into the Royal Mail and then to re-emerge as the Republic‘s An Post after independence. What better way to celebrate this than hopping over to the General Post Office in Dublin and buying some stamps – check the Philatelic Counter for collector‘s items while you‘re there.
1809 – The “Catholic Board“ Founded
In the long struggle for Catholic Emancipation, the „Catholic Board“ was active for a few years after ist foundation 200 years ago – it was the successor of the „Catholic Committee“, seeking a reconciliation with the British monarchy. Catholic Emancipation finally came 180 years ago, with the Catholic Relief Act of 1829. There may be some saying of thanks in Dublin‘s St. Mary‘s Pro-Cathedral to commemorate these events.
1834 – Ireland‘s First Railway in Operation
175 years ago the first steam trains on scheduled services conveyed passengers through Ireland. Though „through Ireland“ might be a bit too grandiose an image, the line ran from Dublin to Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) and back. Fortunately this line survived the „efficency experts“ that killed off most of Ireland‘s rail system. For a comprehensive glimpse of Ireland‘s steaming past head for the Ulster Transport Museum near Belfast this year ... and that is even accessible by train!
1884 – The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is Founded
125 years young and going from (Gaelic) strength to strength is the Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) , founded 1884 in Thurles and since then mixing sport and politics in a unique Irish way. The first patron was Archbishop Croke of Cashel – so celebrate by attending a game in Croke Park, the GAA‘s Dublin stronghold (and one of Europe‘s foremost sports stadia). Expect hurleys to be wielded instead of croziers.
1934 – The Irish Language Becomes a National Education „Must“
75 years ago, nationalism was definitely en vogue in Europe, and after Ireland‘s brief flirt with fascism in the form of the „Blueshirts“ education became the national battleground. In 1934 the Primar School syllabus was adapted to place greater emphasis on the Irish language and a nationalistic outlook on life. In the same year Irish became a compulsory subject in the Leaving Certificate. Find out more about the languages of Ireland in our special section.