The Pale or the English Pale was the part of Ireland directly under the control of the English government in the Late Middle Ages. The Pale was a strip of land, centred on Dublin, that stretched from Dundalk in Louth to Dalkey in Dublin; it became the base of English rule in Ireland. The Norman invasion of Ireland, beginning in 1169, brought much of Ireland briefly under the theoretical control of the Plantagenet Kings of England. From the 13th century onwards the Hiberno-Norman occupation in the rest of Ireland at first faltered, then waned. Across most of Ireland, the Normans increasingly assimilated into Irish culture after 1300.

The idea of the Pale was inseparable from the notion of a separate Anglo-Irish polity and culture. After the 17th century and especially after the Anglican Reformation and the Plantation of Ulster, the "Old English" settlers were gradually assimilated into the Irish population. This was in large part due to their relative reluctance to give up Roman Catholicism (those who worshiped in the Church of Ireland were rewarded with a higher status). They kept their version of the English language, though by that time many of them also spoke Irish.

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