Who Owned the Land of the Isle of Ireland?

In discussions of Irish history much is often made of the connection of the people
to the Land.

In order to fully appreciate the dynamics of the history of the Isle of Ireland one must
put aside sentiment and focus upon known facts. The question of  ownership of the land  can become a distraction for those in pursuit of explanation or critical analysis of history.
  the mere fact of being on the land does not convey ownership. Far more important for historians  is the concept of the  Administrator of the land.  Be it by conquest, treaty, revolt, default, sale or other form of transmission the status of Administrator of the land has changed through time.

These changes-for the most part transmissions acknowledged by the partys involved at the time- are  cold hard facts and as such they can serve historical analysis well. Their legitimacy is not an issue. Their being is all that matters.
To read more about the concept of Administrator of the land Click here.
To read a survey of Administrators of the Land through history Click here
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The Administrators of the land of Ireland
Sentimental discussions concerning the title to the land of the Island of Ireland do not serve historical analysis. History is marked by Administrators rather than owners of the land. Wave upon wave of Administrators of the land have come across it ever since the first individual set foot on the Island of Ireland several thousand years ago in what archeologists call the Megalithic period. While these hunters and gatherers may not have insisted on ownership of defined tracts they did administer that land which they occupied as they hunted its game and gathered its resources. There exact  identity is not known and may not be known. They may have left the land soon after arriving.  Following this first landfall others have followed- here are some:

-Bronze Age Megalith Builders- Archeologists have proposed that the structures are proclamations of the ownership/administration  of the land by groups. Power structures based
upon religious authority have been proposed. These peoples or their administration came from outside of the Isle of Ireland spreading along the coast of Western Europe.

-Beaker Folk Conquests- perhaps the first bowmen beaker folk camped in the ruins of the Megalithic structures and perhaps administered the land. These people and or their administration were also not native to the island.

-Bronze Age extended families- The first tribes of the bronze age were not celtic peoples. They administered the land via an extended family- without acquisition of the land via conquest. (although there is no evidence of this substantial fortifications are absent- perhaps the best generalization is that if ever the land was owned by the people by right of inheritance rather than by conquest  it was at this time. These people were not "Celtic".

-Iron Age Celts- While the extended families continued the trend was toward acquisition of the land by the conquest of resident unrelated groups by  powerful warlords operating out of large and strong fortifications.  Although there was no massive invasion the celticization process was foreign to the island. The sentimental claims of celtic or celticly inspired people to any form of original title to the land are completely unfounded.

-Rome- There is new evidence in the form of a Roman fort located north of Dublin that at some time Romans administered at least a small part of the island.

-The Christian Church- by conquest of words or by deeds the Christian church had conquered parts of the Isle of Ireland prior to the coming of Patrick and surely after him their conquest was complete. This church was not controlled by Rome but it was not native to the island.

-The Roman Church- the early church was defeated at the Synod of Whitby by the church based in Rome and administered by Rome. This occurred in the 7th century and long pre-dates any invasion by forces from other British Isles yet it was complete and was by a foreign power- this invasive power still exerts a powerful administrative force today. There is no original or native title to the land which can be claimed by this external and non universal force.

-Vikings- Starting in the 10th century viking raiders settled in and administered parts of the Isle of Ireland

-Others- other groups such as the Ulster Scots have long settled and administered parts of the Island of Ireland.

-Normans- It was only in the 12th century that the first administration from England appeared and this was in the form of Normans who had come of age in Celtic Wales.

By the 12th century Ireland was home to several groups competing for administration.
Celtic Warlords, Norman English, The Church of Rome and groups such as the Ulster Scots. All were "the foreigner" in terms of ownership of true title to the land. All were however real  and concrete administrators with which the people necessarily entered into dialog. How was  that dialog managed- that is history!

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The Relationship of the Administrator of the Land to the People who live upon it.
An appreciation of the importance of the Administrator of the Land in Irish history does not
leave out the people who walk upon it, quite the contrary, it illuminates their situation. The history of Ireland has been critically influenced by the relationship between cultural groups inhabiting the land to the Administrator of the Land.  The lives of the people inhabiting the land have been informed by their dialog with that Administrator be it a Celtic Warlord Chieftain, The Christian Church, or another Foreign Power.

History is in fact written by that dialog. How did negotiations with the Administrator proceed?
Did the people pursue accommodation and compromise to attain their goals? Did the people work with or confront the administrator? Were wars won or were wars futile plagues upon the people which did little more than harm the dialog? Were the people good neighbors? Did the people work toward a positive manipulation of the relationship to attain their own ends?

Stubborn rejection of the reality of the position of Administrator of the Land while considered brave in some circles is in fact harmful to the dialog and relationship to the Administrator. It is costly in terms of treasure and in terms of human lives and suffering. While one might argue that replacement of the Administrator should be a goal it is a goal which is often  informed more by frustration and impatience and perhaps lust for power and wealth than it is by reason. Its justification must be built upon and evaluated in terms of  the dialog with the administrating power.
-Was real compromise offered?
-Were the people willing to adapt socially and culturally to bring about peace?
-Were violent confrontations minimized?
Essentially what was done to work with the system and through it?
In terms of a story- did the people try to ride the bull peacefully or did they antagonize it
with constant waving of a red cloth?
These questions can only be answered by a focus upon the dialog with the Administrative
power(s). They can not be answered by a blind reference to the presence or absence of
an abstract  title to the land which ignores the realities of the presence of an Administrative Power
which holds the real title at the time in question.
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