The region that is now Northern Ireland was the bedrock of the Irish war of resistance against English programmes of colonialism in the late 16th century.
In 1914, they smuggled thousands of rifles and rounds of ammunition from Imperial Germany for use by the Ulster Volunteers (UVF), a paramilitary organisation opposed to the implementation of Home Rule.
Unionists were in a minority in Ireland as a whole, but in the northern province of Ulster they were a very large majority in County Antrim and County Down, small majorities in County Armagh and County Londonderry and a substantial minority in Ulster's five other counties.
In many sports, the island of Ireland fields a single team, a notable exception being association football.
Northern Ireland competes separately at the Commonwealth Games, and people from Northern Ireland may compete for either Great Britain or Ireland at the Olympic Games.
In 1912, after decades of obstruction from the House of Lords, Home Rule became a near-certainty.
A clash between the House of Commons and House of Lords over a controversial budget produced the Parliament Act 1911, which enabled the veto of the Lords to be overturned.
The House of Lords veto had been the unionists' main guarantee that Home Rule would not be enacted, because the majority of members of the House of Lords were unionists.
In response, opponents to Home Rule, from Conservative and Unionist Party leaders such as Bonar Law and Dublin-based barrister Sir Edward Carson to militant working class unionists in Ireland, threatened the use of violence.
In the context of open institutional discrimination, the 18th century saw secret, militant societies develop in communities in the region and act on sectarian tensions in violent attacks.