It is believed that the first people to settle in Ireland arrived from the European mainland thousands of years before the birth of Christ. History documents the presence of Celtic tribes in Ireland as early as 400 BC. They spread into Britannia and clashed with Roman legions throughout much of the early AD centuries. Much later, Viking armies invaded and pillaged much of Ireland, but they were defeated by Brian Boru near Dublin in 1014.
English kings began politically subjugating Ireland through the Catholic Church in the 11th century, and eventually gained total control of the island. In 1920, the English Parliament divided Ireland into two separate countries, each controlled by Britain. Several non-protestant areas of Ireland began rebelling afterwards. In 1949, the independent Republic of Ireland was formally declared and recognized. Northern Ireland remained under English control.
In the fifth century AD, during the reign of King MacNeill, Saint Patrick attempted to convert the Irish to Christianity. His labors brought very few results but Ireland accepted Christianity nearly a century after his death.
During the 1970s, there was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit among many Roman Catholics which sparked a hunger for Pentecostal teachings. The first Assemblies of God missionaries to Ireland arrived in 1978. Others followed soon after focusing on planting local churches. A Bible college opened in Dublin, the capital, in 1982. In 2005, the Assembly of God churches in Northern Ireland joined together with those in the Republic of Ireland to form the Assemblies of God Ireland (AGI)
The Movement Today
Many Pentecostal churches across Ireland are joining together in partnership to more effectively minister to the needs of this island nation. Teen Challenge and coffeehouse ministries are reaching out to the youth culture and students in Ireland today. In fact, Teen Challenge has had such an impact on the people that the Irish government has given it significant support.
The Assemblies of God Ireland report the following statistics: 26 churches, 4000 members and adherents. Christ for Ireland Training Center provides ministerial training and has an extension program serving a total of 57 students.
Additional Facts About Ireland
- Capitals: Dublin (Ireland), Belfast (N. Ireland)
- Area: 32,595 square miles
- Population: 6.4 million
- Urbanization: 62%
- Government: Parliamentary republic (Ireland), Consociational devolved assembly (N. Ireland)
- Agriculture: Potatoes, grains, sugar beets, turnips and livestock
- Industry: Food processing, textiles, chemicals, brewing, machinery and crystal