This book surveys the various attempts to build a viable state structure in Ireland from Norman times to the present. It focuses on the concept of legitimacy - that is, the tacit acknowledgment of the governed that the system of government under which they live is morally entitled to their allegiance. Such a system can range from an autocracy like Tsarist Russia to a modern mass democracy - what matters is the willing acceptance by the populace that the government has a moral right to govern. The author of this book examines the various attempts to establish such as system of government in Ireland and argues that until the achievemet of independence by nationalist Ireland in 1922, no such system succeeded. She divides Irish history into three broad periods: the six centuries from the Normans to the Act of Union when Ireland was governed as a colony of England; then the period of the Union when Ireland was integrated into the British state; and finally the establishment of the Irish state in 1922.