فصل 07

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کتاب های خیلی ساده

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فصل 07

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Fighting to be free

By 1900, life was a little better for Catholics in Ireland. They could have land, they could vote and speak in Parliament, they had Catholic schools and churches. But most Catholics were very poor, and every year, thousands of them went to America or Britain to look for work.

Catholic Irish Nationalists wanted to end the Act of Union. They wanted an Irish Parliament to decide about things in Ireland. But the Protestants did not want to give it to them - and, not for the first time, they were ready to fight for the things that they wanted.

In 1914, the British government decided to give Ireland an Irish Parliament. ‘Ireland will still belong to Britain,’ they said. ‘But the Irish Parliament will decide on Irish things, like Irish schools, roads, and police.’ Most Irish Nationalists were happy about this, but the Protestant Unionists were angry.

Most Protestants lived in Northern Ireland near Belfast. This part of Ireland is called Ulster. Soon the Protestant Unionist army began marching through the streets of Belfast with their leader, Sir Edward Carson. They wanted to keep the Act of Union. ‘Ulster will fight,’ they said, ‘and Ulster will be right!’

The British government did not know what to do. They wanted to give Ireland a Parliament, but they did not want to fight the Unionists. But then, in 1914, the First World War started. Most of the Protestant Unionists, and many thousands of Irish Catholics, went with the British army to fight against Germany.

But many Irish Nationalists stayed in Ireland. ‘We don’t want to fight the Germans,’ they said. ‘We want the British to leave Ireland. Perhaps the Germans can help us.’

In 1916, a group of Irish Nationalists-mostly Catholics - decided to fight for a free Ireland. They were interested in Irish music, Irish history, the Irish language, and Irish games. But now they bought guns in Germany and tried to bring them to Ireland in a German ship. Their leader, Patrick Pearse, wanted much more than an Irish Parliament. He wanted Ireland to be free from Britain.

On Easter Monday 1916, Pearse and his men went into the Post Office, in the middle of Dublin. Pearse walked to the door. ‘Irishmen and Irishwomen,’ he said. ‘Ireland belongs to the Irish people! Today Ireland is a free country!’

But the British did not agree. For six long days there was a battle in Dublin, and many men died. After the battle, the government said that Pearse and fourteen other important men had to die, and they died in prison. Nearly two thousand other Sinn Fein men went to prison.

Easter Monday 1916 was a very important day in Irish history. After that day, everything was different. In his poem Easter 1916 the Irish writer William Butler Yeats wrote:

All changed, changed utterly.

A terrible beauty is born.

In 1919, Sinn Fein started to fight the British again. The Sinn Fein army was called the Irish Republican Army, or IRA. From 1919 to 1921 the IRA killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, and the police and soldiers killed hundreds of IRA men too. In Dublin, there were IRA men and women everywhere, but it was very hard for the British soldiers to find them. The IRA leader was Michael Collins, but the British government didn’t even have a photo of him!

In 1921 the British government decided to talk to Sinn Fein and the IRA, and in that year, for the first time in history, most of Ireland had an Irish government, with an Irish President in Dublin.

But the Irish Republic is only three-quarters of Ireland. One quarter, in Northern Ireland, stayed British. And here, fifty years later, the trouble between Protestants and Catholics started again.

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