[One of the more debated topics of late in Irish studies is whether Ireland is properly to be described as a colony of England (or an English "colony"). It has become academically respectable and even fashionable in postcolonial studies to assume that such is the case, but Paul Gough has written in to provide two reasons why such assertions are false.] [GPL]

You have Ireland down as a colony on your list in the British Empire section. This is incorrect. Ireland was one of the three kingdoms of James I of England, VI of Scotland (the others being England and Scotland — England including Wales at the time). He was king of Ireland, it was part of his realm, not a foreign colony. Ireland has never been a British colony.

It has been invaded from the island of Great Britain (nearly as many times as people from the island of Ireland have invaded Great Britain. Just ask St. Patrick, a Welshman taken in slavery by the Irish) but it became part of the kingdom. This occured way before the 1800 Act of Union.

[It is always incorrect to speak of England as the name of the country, since] it is the United Kingdom, or Britain, for short. That's the name of the country and has been since, at the latest, 1707. To say England is to accept this view that England colonised Ireland and Scotland (with Wales you may have a point). In fact a Scots king came to rule England, James the first of England and Sixth of Scotland. So please don't say England did this and England did that. As a scholar of the colonial period, I am sure you are well aware of the disproportionately large amount of the Empire founded by Scots and Irish, especially in India.

So it was Britain that did things. All of it. Yes people were treated badly in Ireland, but no worse than in any other part of the country. Luddite rioters were shot in mill country in the north of England. Parts of Cheshire had a famine at the same time as the Great Famine. Only difference was the government didn't even bother to send a Trevelyan to withold corn, they just let it run its course.

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Last modified 20 May 2003