Ireland’s peripheral position has historically often delayed the arrival of waves of social and cultural change in other parts of Europe. Part of its self-identity has derived from the narrative of its having been as a refuge for civilisation and Christianity during the invasions of what were once known as the ‘dark ages’, when it was described as ‘the island of saints and scholars’. Another part derives from its history of invasion, settlement and colonisation and, more specifically from its intimate relationship with Great Britain.The Republic of Ireland now occupies approximately five-sixths of the island of Ireland but from the Act of Union in 1800 until 1922, all of the island of Ireland was effectively part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The war of Independence ended with the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, and on 6 December 1922 the entire island of Ireland became a self-governing British dominion called the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann). Northern Ireland chose to opt out of the new dominion and rejoined the United Kingdom on 8 December 1922. In 1937, a new constitution, the Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann), replaced the Constitution of the Irish Free State in the twenty-six county state, and called the state Ireland, or Éire in Irish. However, it was not until 1949, after the passage of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, that the state was declared, officially, to be the Republic of Ireland (Garvin, 2005).