County Clare Landscape from Alewife Cave
beneath the Burren
Farmland at the Cliffs of Moher,
County Clare
O'Brien's Tower was built on the edge of the towering Cliffs of Moher as an observation point in 1835 by O'Brian, a descendant of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland , and the O'Brien's of Bunratty Castle, Kings of Thomond.
THE WEST'S AWAKE
Thomas Davis
Ireland may well have the Young Ireland movement to thank for the current day flag. The first known reference to the green, white and orange as a symbol of Irish nationalism dates from September 1830 although the oldest attested use of a tricolor flag was in 1848. Meagher, a leader of the Young Ireland movement, presented the flag to the public for the first time at a meeting held in Waterford city on March 7, 1848. A month later, he presented the flag at a meeting in Dublin, stating:

"The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the 'Orange' and the 'Green', and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of the Irish Protestant and the Irish Catholic may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood."

It is said that the green stripe represents those of native Irish descent, the orange stripe represents the descendants of 17th-century British colonists (a group which supported William of Orange in the Williamite War) and the white stripe represents the hope for peace between the two groups.

Although the flag was flown in Ireland and considered its national flag, it wasn't designated the official flag until the Irish Constitution of 1937 (15 years after Ireland got its independence).
Davis, through his ballad "The West's Awake", describes moments in Irish history where a fleeting victory and a horrifying defeat forever changed the Celtic Nation of Ireland, especially Western Ireland.
When all beside a vigil keep,
The West's asleep, the West's asleep
Alas! and well may Erin weep
That Connacht lies in slumber deep.
There lakes and fares smile fair and free,
'Mid rocks their guardian chivalry.
Sing, Oh! let man learn liberty
From crashing winds and lashing sea
Mouth of the River Shannon, County Clare,
where it enters the Atlantic Ocean
Until the late 1100s, the Celtic Nation of Ireland was divided into separate kingdoms which were constantly battling for control. By 1166, King Rory O'Connor of Connacht was considered the High King of Ireland. He had attained his position though alliances with some kingdoms, and victories over others, such as the Kingdom of Leinster. Little did O'Connor know that the victory over Leinster would result in the loss of Celtic control of his homeland.
(Click on the map to enlarge)
The King of Leinster fled to England where Strongbow, the Earl of Pembroke, agreed to help him try to regain his lands. In 1169 these two, supported by a large army, were successful. But O'Connor remained the High King of Ireland.

In 1171, when the King of Leinster died, Strongbow suppressed a local revolt and established himself as lord of the province. O'Connor tried to expel him, but Strongbow's use of superior Anglo-French military tactics and technology proved too much to overcome. O'Connor returned to his kingdom, and kept the position as High King in name only. That same year King Henry II of England, concerned about Strongbow's power, sailed to Ireland with a large army of his own. A terrified Strongbow turned Leinster over to the King. King Henry then toured Ireland and although O'Connor still opposed him, Henry was promised loyalty from nearly every other quarter.
And often in O'Connor's van,
To triumph dashed each Connacht clan
And fleet as deer the Normans ran
Thro' Corrsliabh Pass and Ardrahan;
In the coming years, there were numerous battles between the Irish kings and the Anglo-French forces. One occurred in Ardraham (Connacht or present day County Mayo) in 1225, where the Irish clans fiercely defended the stronghold, inflicting a terrible defeat on the Normans. But in the period 1226 - 1235, despite determined defense by Irish forces, Connacht finally did fall.
Davis also mentions a decisive moment during the Williamite Wars when a fierce battle culminated with the defeat of the Irish Jacobites at Aughrim (Country Galway) in 1691.
And later times saw deeds as brave,
And glory guards Clanricard's grave,
Sing, Oh! they died their lands to save
At Aughrim's slopes and Shannon's wave
In 1688, the British Parliament sought to replace the Roman Catholic King James II with the Protestant William of Orange. William invaded London, forcing King James to flee to France.
In 1689, James went on to Ireland, hoping the large Catholic population there would help him regain his throne.

Between 1689 and 1691, the Williamite War, as it was known, ensued with the Protestant fighting for William and the Catholics, aided by the French, fighting for James.

Clanicard probably refers to the 9th Earl of Clanicarde, a James loyalist, who lived at Portumna. In 1690, the Jacobite garrison at Portumna was attacked by William's forces. William's men attacked again the next year with Clanicarde's men finally surrendering and being allowed to march out. The 9th Earl, however, continued in his cause, fighting in the battle at Aughrim.

On July 12, 1691, the two armies met at Aughrim when the Protestant forces (Williamites) attacked the Catholic forces (Jacobites), which included the 9th Earl of Clanricard. The Williamites, despite being in an inferior strategic position, won the battle. The Jacobites retreated in disarray to Limerick where they surrendered on September 26, 1691. A peace treaty, known as the Treaty of Limerick, was signed in October 1691 whereby the Catholics retained their right to practice their religion but forfeited their land. The 9th Earl of Clanricard, for his involvement temporarily forfeited his castle and estate, known as Portumna, that was built near the northern end of Lough Derg on the river Shannon.
THE WILLIAMITE WAR WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT IRISHMEN FOUGHT
AGAINST EACH OTHER BASED UPON THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.
And if, when all a vigil keep,
The West's asleep, the West's asleep
Alas! and well may Erin weep
That Connacht lies in slumber deep.
But, hark! a voice like thunder spake,
The West's awake! The West's awake
(Click on the map to enlarge)
In the 1840s with the famine raging, tension within the New Irelanders intensified, dividing the group into those who wanted to use the political arena while others wanted open revolt. The Young Ireland movement called for agrarian revolution as a solution to the famine. They felt land reform would be the basis for a popular uprising. But the 1848 Irish Rebellion actually had very little support from the countryside and was opposed by the Catholic Church. The movement finally collapsed due to a far stronger than expected British military response, failure of Catholic Church support and lack of arms and organization. Probably most important was the failure of Young Irelanders to consider the widespread effects of the famine. While they failed to gain the support of the Irish People, they did frighten the British administration in Ireland to the extent that they rushed 10,000 troops to Dublin. The political and social fallout not only fractured the Irish repeal movement but also lost Ireland the support of the British people, support very much needed during the days of the famine.
DAVIS' LEGACY
THE FLAG
CLICK HERE TO LEARN ABOUT DAVIS'
POTICIAL BELIEFS THROUGH HIS BALLAD "A NATION ONCE AGAIN"
JOURNEY
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Thanks to photographer Carol Kilroy (Kildysert Entertainment, LLC )