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The marks left on Irish history by invading forces and settlers from foreign parts, such as the Celts, the Vikings, the Normans and the British have shaped the people, culture, geography and history of Ireland. Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is famous for having brought Christianity to the country in the 5th century. From 800 AC, Viking marauders constantly attacked Ireland, in particular the rich monasteries, which contributed to their decline. They established a number of commercial centers in Ireland, which developed and became the main cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford. Dublin was named 'Dubh Linn', meaning black pond, by the Viking colonisers. The Norman's invaded Ireland from England in 1169, in answer to the call of an Irish king seeking to reclaim his territory. Kings of the Tudor dynasty launched a major invasion of Ireland in the 16th century. Henry VIII officially declared himself king of Ireland before launching a first invasion and a series of military campaigns, whilst also concentrating his efforts on imposing the protestant religion on the catholic population of Ireland. Tensions between the British occupier and the people of Ireland continued to increase. The Irish famine in 1840 was a turning point. In 1914 the Westminster parliament adopted a proposal for a law relating to the independence of Ireland, giving the country a right to government autonomy, but this project was delayed by the declaration of the First World War. On Sunday 23rd April 1916, paramilitary groups of the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army launched an armed rebellion in Dublin and declared Irish independence. The rebellion was squashed after several days of battle. The execution of several of its leaders, including Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, only served to alienate public opinion against British domination. The War of independence which followed, from 1919 to 1921, officially ended with the signing of the Anglo-Irish treaty in December 1921, dividing the country into an independent Irish Free State composed of 26 counties, whilst the six other counties in Ulster remained within the United Kingdom under the name of Northern Ireland.The new government and the anti-treaty forces launched into a Civil War which lasted until 1923. The second Constitution, Bunreacht na hEireann, was voted in by the people of Ireland in 1937. In 1949 the Irish Free State became the Irish Republic, which is simply known today as Ireland.

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