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Ireland independence

Not surprisingly, the union in Ireland was highly unpopular and relations continued to deteriorate between the Catholic and Protestant populations. In the 1830s, a movement began to repeal the union. It found little favour in Protestant Ulster, though, where growing prosperity kept many committed to the legislative union with Britain. Catholic areas of Ireland fared less well and when the potato crops of the 1840s failed, a devastating famine resulted. Between 1841 and 1851, Ireland's population fell from 8.2 million to 6.6 million through starvation, disease, and emigration, particularly to the United States.

Following the famine, Catholic Ireland slowly increased in prosperity but there became a growing awareness of the greater affluence enjoyed by the industrialised Ulster and British people. Demand for national self-government came to the fore. The Catholics gradually gained parliamentary power and "home rule", a separate Irish parliament within the Union, gained popularity. Using their leverage in the British parliament, a home rule bill was enacted in 1914, but not put in effect until the end of World War I.

Ireland Independence

In the twentieth century, Ireland's situation has remained unsettled. In 1920, the "Government of Ireland Act" set up separate parliaments for both the north and south, although only the former ever functioned. In 1921 a treaty between southern Ireland and Britain established the Irish Free State, a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth of Nations. This allowed the Northern Ireland Parliament to take the six northern counties out of the dominion. A subsequent civil war broke out between pro-treaty and anti-treaty factions but ultimately the treaty stood.

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