DESCRIPTION: "When Rome, by dividing, had conquered the world," Ireland, united, escaped. Eventually "our domestic dissensions let foreigners in.... our freedom was lost.... Let us firmly unite, and our covenant be, Together to fall, or together be free"
AUTHOR: Theobald Wolfe Tone (source: Moylan)
EARLIEST DATE: 1792 (according to Moylan)
KEYWORDS: Ireland nonballad political
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Moylan 120, "Ierne United" (1 text)
NOTES: The claim of this song is a half-truth: Ireland was never conquered, or even attacked, by Rome. But it wasn't because Ireland was united; it was because Ireland was *remote*. The Romans never finished conquering Britain, and had no harbors on her west coast; of course they didn't go after Ireland. But Ireland was not united at any time in its history prior to the Tudor conquest; there were always at least the four kingdoms of Leinster, Munster, Ulster, and Connaught, and those usually subdivided. A king like Brian Boru could say he ruled all as High King, but at best his authority resembled that of the modern British monarch: Respected, bowed to -- and utterly ignored.
Still, it is true that internal strife led to the English invasion: There was strife between Diarmat Mac Murchada (MacMurrough), king of Leinster, and Tigernan Ua Ruairk of Breifne/Breffni. There was also a conflict over who was High King of Ireland, which had lesser lords taking sides. In a complex multi-sided war, Diarmat was deprived of most of his power -- and sailed to England, where he offered to marry his daughter to Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, known as "Strongbow," the Earl of Pembroke.Pembroke invaded (1169, then in more force in 1170 as MacMurrough, successful in Leinster, decided to try for the High Kingship). King Henry II , who early in his reign had been granted a patent by the (English) Pope to straighten out the much-too-independent Irish church, later followed him to keep Strongbow under control (1172; Strongbow had become, in effect, King of Leinster when MacMurrough died, and Henry couldn't have that).
The Normans, by a combination of politics, marriage, and warfare, gradually took over eastern Ireland (see Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry, A History of Ireland, pp. 58-73; Mike Cronin,A History of Ireland, pp. 11-15; Terry Golway, For the Cause of Liberty, p. 11). - RBW
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