This map plots the settings and references in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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Creative Commons AttributionIreland - Credit: Martie Swart

 Ireland is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island in the world. The island is divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, a part of Great Britain. For much of its history, its fate has been closely connected to that of neighbouring Britain. England invaded and conquered her neighbour repeatedly, bringing about religious and political conflicts that still cause problems today.

The main religion in Ireland is Roman Catholicism, a faith which has had a great impact on the culture and history of the island. The invading English introduced Protestantism to Ireland. This, combined with other factors, eventually led to the partition of Northern Ireland and caused a bloody political division between Protestants and Catholics.

County Donegal, Ireland
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCounty Donegal, Ireland - Credit: Andrew Hurley

At the turn of the century, when Joyce sets his novel, Ireland was wholly under British rule. This was not to change until the Easter Rising of 1916 (the year of the novel's publication), which sparked off a war that led to the Republic of Ireland's independence.

In the 1840s, Ireland suffered a terrible famine, caused by bad weather and a potato mould accidentally imported from America. One million people died, out of a population of 8 million, and more than a million emigrated, largely to the United States. Ireland has never recovered to pre-famine population levels: today's population is around six million (4.2 million in the Republic of Ireland and 1.8 in Northern Ireland).