Can you explain the difference between Catholics and Protestants? Do you know of one reason why Britain became a Protestant country?
England, Scotland and Ireland – Catholics and Protestants
In the 1530s England and Scotland became Protestant countries when King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his first wife and the Pope in Rome refused to give his consent. Many people throughout Britain kept their Catholic faith, and the Irish in particular refused to give up their beliefs. To fight the resistance, Protestants from England and Scotland were “planted” in Ireland, and their power gradually increased. By the Act of Union (1800), Britain finally included the island of Ireland in its empire. Throughout the centuries the Catholics in Ireland were discriminated against and this has led to continuous conflicts and battles.
- Why did England and Scotland become Protestant countries?
- How did the English try to fight the resistance in Ireland?
The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland
In 1922, the southern part of Ireland got its independence and became the Republic of Ireland with an overall majority of Catholics. The northern part, Northern Ireland, with a small majority of Protestants of British descent, chose to remain in the United Kingdom. Whereas most Protestants (often associated with the colour orange) have strong bonds with the British, the Catholics (associated with the colour green) are very passionate about their Irish origin. As you can see, this deep split between the two groups is not just a matter of religious beliefs; it is about culture and history.
If you want to know more about how deep this difference between the Orange and the Green goes, you should listen to this song and take a look at the lyrics. The song states what it is like to grow up with a Protestant father and a Catholic mother.
The Orange and the Green lyrics
The Orange and the Green
Oh, it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen.
My father, he was Orange and me mother, she was Green.
My father was an Ulster man, proud Protestant was he.
My mother was a Catholic girl, from county Cork was she.
They were married in two churches, lived happily enough,
Until the day that I was born and things got rather tough.
Baptized by Father Riley, I was rushed away by car,
To be made a little Orangeman, my father's shining star.
I was christened "David Anthony," but still, in spite of that,
To me father, I was William, while my mother called me Pat.
With Mother every Sunday, to Mass I'd proudly stroll.
Then after that, the Orange lodge would try to save my soul.
For both sides tried to claim me, but I was smart because
I'd play the flute or play the harp, depending where I was.
Now when I'd sing those rebel songs, much to me mother's joy,
Me father would jump up and say, "Look here would you me boy.
That's quite enough of that lot", he'd then toss me a coin
And he'd have me sing the Orange Flute or the Heroes of The Boyne
One day me Ma's relations came round to visit me.
Just as my father's kinfolk were all sitting down to tea.
We tried to smooth things over, but they all began to fight.
And me, being strictly neutral, I bashed everyone in sight.
My parents never could agree about my type of school.
My learning was all done at home, that's why I'm such a fool.
They've both passed on, God rest 'em, but left me caught between
That awful color problem of the Orange and the Green.
- Which colours are associated with the pro-British (Protestants) and the pro-Irish (Catholics)?
- The fight between the two groups is not just about religion. Explain.
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