Evidence of human settlement in Ireland goes back to Megalithic times to between 5000-6000 B.C. Newgrange, Loughcrew and other settlements suggests that Irish ancestors came from southern Europe, possibly the Iberian Peninsula.
The arrival of Celtic tribes to the island in about the 4th century B.C. is acknowledged as fact. Various invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century concluded when King Brian Boru defeated the Danes in 1014 at the Battle of Clontarf.
However, the British occupation of Ireland began in the 12th century and initiated more than seven centuries of Anglo-Irish struggle marked by fierce rebellions and harsh repressions together with a disastrous Famine in the 1840’s. A badly planned 1916 Easter Monday rebellion – Easter Rising – resulted in several years of guerrilla warfare that eventually in 1921 created independence from the UK for 26 southern counties; the six (6) northern ( Ulster) counties remained part of the United Kingdom and still do. This in turn triggered the Irish Civil War of 19221-1923 and eventually led to The Troubles, a virtual civil war between the Nationalist and Loyalist communities in the 6 Counties of Northern Ireland from 1969 to 1998.
In 1948, Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth and declared the 26 counties as the Republic of Ireland; it joined the European Community in 1973, now called the European Union (EU). In 2002, Ireland adopted the Euro as its currency.
Successive Irish governments have sought the peaceful unification of Ireland and have co-operated with Britain against terrorist groups. In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement signalled peace in Northern Ireland and eventually led to the current Northern Ireland Assembly where power sharing operates in a devolved local government reporting to the British Government.
The Republic of Ireland is administered by a democratically elected Government . This is currently led by a Fianna Fail/Green Party Coalition, headed by Taoiseach (Leader or Prime Minister) Brian Cowen.