Irish History Timeline
|Early Ireland: 8000 BC - fourth century AD||Early Christianity to the Arrival of the Vikings|
|The Viking Age||The Normans in Ireland|
|Erosion of English Power in Ireland||The Tudor Era|
|The Plantation of Ulster||Cromwell and the Restoration|
|Into the Eighteenth Century||Growth of Political Unrest in the Later Eighteenth Century|
|The Act of Union and its Consequences||Daniel O'Connell and the Catholic Association|
|The Great Famine||The Revolt of the Young Irelanders|
|The Rise of Fenianism||Charles Stewart Parnell and Land Reform|
|The Gaelic Cultural Movement||The Ulster Covenant|
|The Easter Rising||The War of Independence|
|The Civil War||The Rise of Fianna Fáil|
|Ireland in the 1940s||Ireland in the 1950s and early 1960s|
|The Troubles||Ireland in the Twenty-First Century|
|Latest Events||Irish History Timelines on the Internet|
8000 BC - fourth century AD
Around this time the first men arrived in Scotland. Ireland was not originally Celtic but Neolithic. The Celts were to arrive during the second half of the millennium BC, and absorbed much of Neolithic culture. Estimates as to when the Gaels arrived range from 4000 BC to the first few centuries BC.
At this time, Ireland was a simple agricultural society. Irish art had begun to develop. The people had come as invaders, and more invaders followed from Britain, France and Spain. Ornaments, coins and weaponry from the Bronze and Iron Age have been uncovered by archaeologists.
The Romans never conquered Ireland, although it is a matter of controversy whether they actually set foot on the island. Ireland was a society of independent tribal kingdoms who lived by agriculture, raiding and fighting with continuous shifts in alliances.
Kings have left behind raths (ring
forts) on the Hill
of Tara. They claimed to be rulers of all Ireland
tribal groupings, the people shared the Brehon
Law, a common history, oral
poetry, music and language.
They referred to themselves as
‘men of Ireland
influenced Ireland more in the fourth century and after. As
lost their grip on Britain, the Irish and Picts began to invade.
|367 AD||The Irish,
and Saxons launched a concerted
raid on Britain.
Christianity to the Arrival of the Vikings
Early 5th C
probably from Gaul.
Irish settlements began in the west of Britain.
went as bishop
Irish who believe in Christ’. This was to oppose the Pelagian
Patrick arrived to convert
Conversion was slow, although St
Patrick was not
the only missionary. A Gaelic-Christian
was to follow.
St Patrick was a Romano-Briton who had been enslaved by Irish raiders, before escaping and turning to religion. He drove out traditional pagan rites, leading to a fusion of Gaelic culture with Christianity. Irish Christianity ‘shone like a beacon in Europe’ after the fall of Rome.
slowly in a
stable society. The king of
Irish schools in the late sixth and seventh centuries achieved great scholarship, and many poets and lawyers were also clerics. Laws were created for church and secular society. The problem of inherited non-Christian customs, ‘fenechas’, was resolved by regarding it as the Old Testament of their race, cleansed by St Patrick. New laws were influenced by the Biblical Old Testament.
this time, the cult
of St Patrick spread.
A prehistory of the Irish race was written to unite all the people of Ireland.
600s – 800s
calligraphy) flowered in the monasteries. Iona
The church’s power structure was complex, with individual churches being highly independent. Some were free while others were owned by aristocrats or monasteries. Churches could be tiny or vast monasteries. Bishops were appointed to oversee the clergy. The relationship between church and people was a contract with mutual obligations. The church supplied religious services while the people paid dues.
Three social classes existed during this age – kings, lords and commoners. Lords were wealthy and had clients (bondsmen). Commoners were freemen with full legal rights and their own land. Some were well off (the bóaire). There were also landless men and hereditary serfs. Status was important in the legal system – rights and legal compensations depended on it. Under clientship, lords granted the client a fief (goods) and protection; the client made payments to the lord. There was free and base clientship – free clients were often nobles, and took a share in their lord’s plunder. Base clientship was like a loan, from which the lord came out best. Slavery was extensive.
The family, not the individual, was the legal unit – extended family, not conjugal family, which meant the male-line descendants of a great-grandfather. Divorce and polygamy were common, going back to the pre-Augustinian attitudes to marriage. Polygamy remained until the end of the Middle Ages. With nobles having many children, these slipped socially downwards and displaced the commoners.
The population was between half and one million. Much of the land was wilderness and uninhabited. The more powerful – any farmers with land – owned ringforts to protect their farms. Land was farmed in strips; milk and dairy was important. The upper classes ate a lot of meat, which formed a normal part of clients’ payments. Grain was also vital – oat for porridge, barley for ale and bread. Vegetables were grown on a small scale and wild fruit and nuts were important in people’s diet. Famine was common, coupled with disease, social disorder and internal migration. Epidemics occurred repeatedly.
Kings played a key role. In their sagas, they are semi-sacred. There were three grades of king. The lowest grade were on their way out in the 700s. The church backed the kings of provinces in their dynastic struggles, and the kings defended the church. The churchmen developed the idea of the ordained and consecrated king; they wrote that the king should be obeyed and respected, but should not tax too much.
Back to top
The first Vikings arrived in Ireland, pirates led by aristocrats. Their first targets included Rathlin and Iona. They harassed Irish homesteads and monasteries for more than a century, meeting no organised national resistance.
monastery was smashed.
|800s||By the middle of this century,
Riata had control of all Pictland,
|802||Burning of Iona.
massacre at Iona,
in which 68 monks died.
followed. The Irish had some successes in striking back.
raids became more
raid took place.
bases and their attacks became so intense that it seemed the
was about to be conquered. The Irish kings and abbots counter-attacked
These alliances became common.
|Mid 9th C||Dublin
became the most important Viking
turned to England.
|914 – 930s||Second
Viking period. After beating the Uí
Dublin Vikings were powerful
for a while. No great monasteries were ever destroyed, even in
massacre at Dunmore
|940s – 960s||
The Uí Neíll clan was locked in an internal power struggle during this time.
|956 - 980||Domnall
ua Néill was King of Tara, High
King of Ireland.
king of the Dal
Cais, becoming a serious
rival to the
Supported by the Ostmen, he conquered
Sechnaill recognise him as King of Ireland.
Boru was declared Emperor
of the Irish at
contained both Norsemen from
the Norsemen became
|11th/12th C||The Irish
was beginning to look old-fashioned.
The abbots, usually laymen, were too powerful. The laity
attitude to marriage was also criticised. A general reorganisation
giving the church its current diocesan organisation. A national church
|1014 – 1022||Mael
Sechnaill II acted as ‘high
|1086 – 1114||Ireland's most powerful king was Muirchertach
|(Late 11th C)||Trade
began to focus on Anglo-Norman
Britain and on
(Toirdelbach Ua Conchobair),
Back to top
Normans In Ireland
O’Connor, son of Turlough
O'Connor, succeeded to high king of Ireland.
Dermot’s brother-in-law, Lawrence
Ó Tuathail, was appointed archbishop. The
Dubliners themselves had killed
Dermot’s father and preferred O’Connor to
forces with Tiernan
O’Rourke and MacMurrough was dethroned.
English had occasionally considered invading
O’Connor had himself inaugurated king at
|1169 – 71||The Cambro-Normans re-conquered
1st) A small party of
Strongbow captured Dublin, married MacMurrough’s
daughter and ultimately became king
of Leinster. Henry
II then arrived
soon meant conquering
the Irish as well.
adventurers who followed Strongbow into
Oct). Henry II went over to stifle this new
kingdom. Strongbow submitted
and was allowed to keep
of the Irish church was convened, intended to bring the Irish church into
the English. After Henry was reconciled with the new pope, the Irish
inundated the pope with letters commending Henry. The Irish kings and
hoped for Henry’s protection against Strongbow; they saw it
as exchanging the
rule of O’Connor for a more prestigious king.
now Strongbow and Hugh de Lacy – a follower of
Henry’s – had subdued their vast
territories. The Treaty
of Windsor was signed between Rory
O’Connor and Henry
II. Rory was recognised
as high-king of
against both O’Connor and the English.
de Courcy exceeded instructions by conquering
gave his rights as Lord of Ireland to his son, John.
retired to an abbey; Henry petitioned the pope to crown John king of
Irish chieftains who greeted him in
|The Prince was suspicious of
men like De
Lacy. He handed
out smaller grants to a
greater number of tenants-in-chief, resulting in important Anglo-Irish
dynasties being founded. Some English lords expanded
their territory by
marrying Irish aristocrats. They also fought amongst themselves.
Lacy was assassinated,
administrators. The English strategy was gradually changing to
European population explosion had begun, meaning land in
now, new citizens were immigrating from
language began to take root, while Norman French
literary language. Architecture changed with churches built in Early
Gothic style, using English stone. The east changed from a subsistence
poets viewed themselves
as part of the European cultural community, but the French and English
see them as such. Gerald
of Wales argued that the marcher
were part of this culture, but the native Irish were not.
the eleventh century most clergy still supported marriage, concubinage,
hereditary office-holding etc. This lent credibility to colonial
against Irish clergy. Franciscan
friars were responsible
preaching and pastoral work.
opinion was more strongly against the invasion than that of the
prophecies circulated against the
of mercenaries fought for both the Irish kings and English barons,
sides for money. Scottish warriors (gallowglass)
began to come over.
Gaelic territories, power began to centre on every minor chief who
command a war-band. Elsewhere in
John intervened to take back lands from his nobles, and
homage to him. He expanded
his King’s Council in
John was succeeded
by his young son Henry
Treasurer of Ireland promoted. The government in England issued an order
that no Irishman should be promoted to high ecclesiastical office.
Henry de Londres, Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Justice of Ireland, convened a synod at which canonical singing was discussed.
the mid thirteenth century, the provincial Irish kings co-operated with
the English and so retained their lands. However, these were not given
liberties were gradually phased out and an elaborate system of
in. Administrators from the English church were brought in. There was a
to ensure that all dioceses under royal control had
I was granted lordship of Ireland. He used the country to
campaigns in Scotland,
France and Wales.
II was to continue this
policy. Local rule by Irish chieftains was cheaper.
who declared himself king of Ireland, was killed
colonists. There was a series of revolts which has been seen as the
beginning of a Gaelic recovery, but the colony was still expanding.
kings had to co-operate with the barons themselves.
salaried barons of the exchequer. A separate royal
|Late 13th C||Those settlers in the east expanded into the west. English peasantry were not introduced to the west; the tenants were almost all Irish, governed by native rulers who answered to the English.|
Back to top
Click here for web links about Ireland in the Middle Ages
the beginning of this century,
all native rulers were legally subject
Anglo-Norman baron or earl, or the English king. The expansion of the colonisers
magnates often fought
succession passed to a series of Anglo-Irish prelates.
|1315 – 18||Edward
to gain Irish
for the Scottish
the colonists. Their three
land, while the population were also affected by the famine
Edward was killed
agricultural boom in Europe
was levelling off and the barons had become
interested in their more profitable English holdings. By this year,
of colonised land belonged to absentees. The resident Anglo-Irish
accused them of endangering the colonies through neglect.
and bad harvests led to the migration of colonists
classes back to England.
of Kilkenny, aimed
settlers becoming too
in Ireland’ were forbidden to adopt Irish clothing and
customs. The Statutes
also forbade intermarriage and the use of March/Brehon
They proved ineffective,
leading to the Anglo-Irish
becoming known as the ‘degenerate
English’. Even the Norman-Irish barons acting as
the English king
became independent. Royal government grew feeble and
III and then Richard
attempted to restore the colony’s
prosperity. Initially Edward
announced that the Irish administrators would be replaced by
but this caused such outrage that he decided to reinforce royal control
invest men and money. The colonists were genuinely fearful
They feared a reoccupation by the Irish, and there was a perception
uncolonised areas were in the hands of the ‘wild
Native rulers were
gradually gaining liberty from the Anglo-Irish aristocracy. There was
between Irish chieftains because the magnates had previously followed a
of ‘divide and rule’. Meanwhile, a cultural
taking place. Bardic
verse was intended to increase the prestige of patrons, and it came
fashion despite Irish minstrels being banned
in 1366 until the seventeenth
century. The scribes and traditional historians also
patronage, and great manuscripts were written which recalled pre-Norman
lineages, borders and culture.
colonists were unwilling to make large contributions towards
absentee landlords preferred to sell their estates to residents of
rather than return. The
Irish meanwhile hoped to accumulate sufficient power to challenge the
earls by recreating
provincial kingships. Various chiefs were styling themselves as the
provinces. The Great O’Neill father and son declared
themselves Prince and
Governor of Ulster despite the earl
of Ulster Roger
offered to arbitrate, but made Mortimer governor of Ireland, and war
over to resolve the newly recognised ‘Irish
problem’. This meant that
government in Ireland was once again centralised, but
England’s attention was
caught by the Hundred
Year’s War. Ireland had become a
broke out as soon as he departed, and his viceroy was murdered.
magnates were more successful during this
period than the Irish or the Crown, whose control shrank
to four counties including Dublin.
This was enclosed by an
rampart known as the Pale.
Irish, particularly those of Ulster,
began to unite and attack the
and some of the colonists began paying black-rent
or protection money
Irish chieftains. However, the Anglo-Irish lords held sway over the
profitable and populous areas.
These lords tried to gain control of
for themselves. After Edward
made an ill-judged attempt to recover
of Kildare were left the only surviving Anglo-Irish magnates
eligible for high office; and Kildare imposed its will on the Pale. A
relative stability and economic growth followed. Many new religious
up, almost all founded by Gaelic patrons. Monastic houses in the Pale
decaying while Gaelic Ireland was influenced by a more dynamic European
|A growing similarity developed between the Irish chieftains and the Anglo-Irish lords. The lords employed Irish historians to justify their status, based on the idea that they were the last in a long line of invaders, and that they had some Irish blood through intermarriage.|
Back to top
Click here for web links about Ireland during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries
of York, was convicted of treason
against King Henry
VI and lost
of Lieutenant of Ireland.
Even so, the Anglo-Irish parliament confirmed
leader and declared Ireland independent
of English law. There had long
tension between the English of Ireland and of England. It was more the
than the commons who were interested in autonomy.
was made to dismiss the Great
of Kildare from his title of Lord Deputy, but he was
his Irish allies.
this time the line
of ‘the Pale’ was at Clongowes.
The boundary was
continuing to shrink.
Dublin government was feeble
time, but 200
years later it would
all-embracing. Its landowners were descendants of the Anglo-Normans,
English’. They were firmly attached to English law
Crown. There was
always still a threat of Gaelic assault. The chieftains continued to
settlers, convincing the Old English that they were defending civil
against barbarism. Fear of attack caused the Old English community to
militarise, and their primary allegiance was to their lords rather than
king; some lords maintained castles and armies. The two great
the English kings made
Fitzgeralds their representatives. They were not interested in Ireland.
this time most of Ireland was ruled by Gaelic
or Gaelicised lords, who
the English Crown. The church in these areas was very different to the
counties were ‘inhabited by the King’s Irish
enemies’. There were 60
chieftains who gave themselves various titles and 30 English
all warring against one another without input from the King.
was criticism that the aristocracy were becoming Gaelic
and 'degenerating from
English civility'. Irish society was fragmenting into lordships, some
being Anglo-Norman and others Gaelic. They sought to monopolise their
The grip of the Crown grew weaker.
century, the hiring of soldiers and manufacture of weapons
costly. The farming population bore the cost. Pastoral
farming dominated. Agricultural
practice was more advanced where the
English population was predominant. Meanwhile, political disruption
population down while the number of people in the rest of Europe
doubled throughout the century.
trade was conducted by the Old English, but merchants found
being forestalled in Old English lords’ territories.
had become hereditary in the Gaelic lordships, and priests were clients
local lord, with bishops often being part of the ruling family. The
(appointing aristocrats to important church positions) was followed in
rebellion took place against Henry
The earls of Kildare, the
House of Fitzgerald,
who were meant to represent royal authority, rebelled against the
Offaly, son of the ninth
earl of Kildare, led a
to show that the power of the Kildares must remain. Henry
army of 2300 and had all male members of the FitzGerald family
executed. This harshness may have been because FitzGerald backed the
pope, and because
needed to draw up an Irish parliament to confirm him head of the
ordered that all Irish lands were to be surrendered to the Crown and
regranted. To the Old English this was a reinforcement of their
the King, but for the Gaelic chieftains the change was huge. They once
their land according to Gaelic law and tradition; now it was according
King’s goodwill. This was the end of Gaelic Ireland.
submitted lords were expected to exact revenues, assist the extension
English legal administration and have their heirs raised in English
In enforcing this, the cost of governing Ireland shot up, but the
rent and confiscated lands were being filched by the Pale.
the parliament of these years, monastic
property was declared forfeit
to the Crown
of it given to the secular landowners in anglicised
However, there was no major drive to convert the population of
Ireland because the English governors, officials and clergy were
political crises. With the FitzGeralds gone, the Gaelic lords under
control began to attack the Pale, forcing the government to send in
expeditions. As this was expensive, the surviving FitzGerald heir was
reinstated and the discontented Gaelic lords dispossessed until they
were styled kings
in Ireland was reluctant, deriving from a concern to
obligation to defend their inheritance and to prevent foreign intruders
invading Ireland. The English also took counsel from both Irish and Old
noblemen who gave conflicting advice, leaving the English paralysed. This lack of intervention
meant that the
Catholic reformers were able to mould Irish society. The first
friars. These became opponents of the Crown after the
began. When the FitzGeralds of Kildare revolted against the Crown, it
depicted as a religious
crusade and received extensive support from the
lords. Meanwhile, many Old English officials and lawyers took their
sons out of
English universities to stop them being corrupted by Protestantism,
them to European universities where they learnt Counter-Reformation
Henry Sidney, competed for the position of
of Ireland. Both devised schemes for Irish government, but their
so bad that senior politicians were subsequently reluctant to accept
supported military settlement
in the Gaelic midland
continuing with the surrender
and regrant policy. Councils
would be set
Anglo-Norman lordships that had 'lapsed' from English civility. He was
side-tracked by the lord of Tyrone, Shane
O’Neill, who ignored
and regrant arrangement. Sussex
decided to oust him and raised money
Pale, but the campaign dragged for four years without result until the
Palesmen complained to Elizabeth and Sussex was withdrawn.
wars took place in Ireland. The English
believed that the Irish
a sense of missionary
licence to civilise.
It was believed that the
only be civilised
by force; Elizabeth I sanctioned shedding blood as a
resort. Her deputies were Englishmen
and the Crown’s army was
English soldiers. Force was used against both the Old English and
The Old English themselves rebelled six times against the new order.
chieftains fought on either side. The ordinary Gaelic Irish population
suffered. One deputy, Sir
Humphrey Gilbert, displayed
the heads of his
at his camp. Some of Elizabeth’s officials condemned his
cruelty and the murder
of civilians. However most, including Leicester, believed it the only
deal with savages. By the end of Elizabeth’s reign, Ireland
was for the first
time under effective English control; but the foundations of Irish
governing Englishmen had been laid. Meanwhile the Old English and
moved closer together.
of the Church
in England failed
to take effect in Ireland.
mainly because communication was extremely difficult in Ireland; it had
scattered population of a million and almost no roads. The Irish
meanwhile, used the Irish language and was uninterested in Lutheran
only place where Protestantism was found was Dublin. Elizabeth was
Irish Catholics might make a religious appeal to Catholic powers like
was established in Ireland, all churches were given to
became governor. His policy was to dispossess those who attacked the
occupied its land. English settlers would be brought in to live on
dispossessed areas, introducing English law and civility. Ancient
revived and bestowed on English adventurers.
Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald launched a rebellion
against the English, to be defeated by the combined forces of Thomas
Butler (the Earl of Ormonde) and the English under Henry
Sidney and Humphrey
of the generation of students who had been trained up in the Counter
were now suggesting withdrawing allegiance from the Crown, while others
proposed only refusing to attend the state church. This meant that they
no longer fill positions in the Dublin administration,
English-born Protestants. Meanwhile lawyers within the Old English
advised acknowledging supremacy of the Crown in temporal but not in spiritual
matters. Even so, most English rulers bar Cromwell
the Old English community. These delegations usually criticised the
Protestant officials. Some of those officials wanted punitive
Catholics; the officials argued that they wanted to stir up revolt for
own ends. Consequently, successive monarchs (Tudor and Stuart)
on Irish reform programmes.
influx of adventurers aroused hostility from the Irish, especially when
adventurers brought in private armies. Sidney
welcomed the subsequent
insurrections as a pretext to extend his plantation schemes, although
did not approve, and forced Sidney
to become more moderate. The scheme
private colonization (by adventurers) ended, but the English Protestant
officials continued to cause tension by criticising Irish society.
FitzMaurice FitzGerald returned from the Continent preaching
received such support from Munster and even the Pale that Elizabeth
to put up an army of 8000. Retribution was harsh – such
destruction of property
and systematic slaughter had never been witnessed before. The Crown
to introduce a settlement of 20,000 people on the lands of the earl of
This resulted in a massive transfer of property from Irish to English
O’Neill became Earl Of
William Fitzwilliam was the governor at this time. He
piecemeal settlements. It was
planned that the province of the O’Neill
family should be
broken up, with some
going to English settlers and some going to Hugh O’Neill, an
of various English adventurers and claimant to the earldom of Tyrone.
reformers had succeeded in securing the allegiance of even the most
the mid 1590s, 4000
people had been settled
By then, the
officials were attempting to impose penalties on Catholic landowners,
was reluctant to stir up the Irish situation while engaged in
with Spain. Her officials in the Irish provinces meanwhile attempted to
more property, some hoping to force an insurrection that would push the
government into another plantation scheme.
Roe O'Donnell began his rebellion
against the English.
|1594 – 1603||Nine
O’Neill, earl of Tyrone. Tyrone had been helped for
years by Elizabeth
in his disputes with other branches of the Ulster O’Neills.
He had spent eight
years in England. However, he also felt himself to be descended form
Nialls who had been High Kings of Ireland for centuries. He
favour, but also independence. Eventually he decided to rebel and
his Ulster neighbour, Hugh
O’Donnell. Once he had fought for
Munster; now he opposed
her at Ulster.
O’Neill wished to reclaim the entire lordship. A
wills with minor
officials ended in a clash with the Lord Deputy. His army was
first, and he solicited aid from other lords and promoted himself as a champion
of the Counter-Reformation.
made reference to ‘vile
|1601||(Sept). A great Spanish fleet set sail for Ireland to help Tyrone, 4000 men sent by Philip III, but O’Neill and O’Donnell were miles away in Ulster. The British deputy Mountjoy, leading 2000 men, besieged the Spaniards, but Tyrone and O’Donnell marched south and besieged Mountjoy. This was the final battle for Gaelic Ireland. Tyrone lost against Mountjoy at Kinsale. He managed to obtain pardon after submitting humbly to him. The fact that the most serious threat to date had been narrowly averted pushed on the process of settlement.|
Back to top
Plantation of Ulster
English law, especially in Ulster. James
agreed with the repossession
of property belonging to the Crown and intolerance towards
rebellious landowners. Only loyal landowners with a
claim to their lands could keep them. These were mostly Old English.
were set up, particularly in the Ulster region, largely opposed by the
Old English. The presence of the settlements strengthened the position
a private settlement
which was to prosper rapidly. For a century it attracted flocks of
settlers. They spread outward and into Belfast, over the whole of
Down and right across Ulster. The pattern of Protestants and Catholics
Ulster today still reflects the two separate settlements.
and O’Donnell fled
of Derry began. Since
the Crown in 1603
Tyrone had kept possession of his lands, despite the resentment of
had fought him. He had been harassed
by English officials who had fined
and were asserting English law.
Some were making
claims that he was involved in a plot with Spain.
After the Flight,
of the earls – Donegal, Tyrone, Derry and Armagh
– was subject to a systematic
attempt to settle in strangers from England and Scotland.
argued that potential rebels should no longer have control over large
of people. English common law was made universal and Jesuits
against. The expropriation
of land belonging to all Catholic landowners was also
|1608 – 1610||The
English Government planned a 'Plantation
of Ulster'. Queen Mary
had already tried it
in the 1550s, it had been attempted in Munster
in the 1560s and 1580s
and in Ulster
in the 1570s. These colonies had either collapsed due to a lack
resources or wiped out by rebellion. The 1610
plantation in Ulster
grander scale and was funded by City
of London companies. The
composed functionaries of the City of London who were responsible for
‘civilising’ (colonising) Derry.
(drapers, salters etc) divided
the land. This land was supposed to go to Scottish and English settlers
would not be allowed Irish
tenants. The native Irish were pushed out in
less fertile lands, making up only 10% of the new population, and would
double rent. Only former soldiers were allowed Irish tenants. In
Irish stayed on as labourers or rent-paying tenants.
were obliged to construct defensible buildings
introduce ten British Protestant families. Land was also allocated
English who had served the
Crown, were given most of the
land. In fact, most land went to servitors and natives rather than
English and Scottish
grantees. The servitors had native
tenants because this gave
immediate income, but later they evicted those tenants and took on
low rents. There were also great profits to be had from timber and
settlers introduced advanced cultivation methods to Ireland. These settlers,
especially the English, acquired further Irish property by claiming
or showing weaknesses in the titles of the natives.
The most progress
in Munster. Meanwhile the natives tried to prove loyalty to the Crown
adopting the English language, modifying their houses in the English
style and supporting
the spread of English law. They also displayed their
‘Englishness’ with their
tombs, funerals and carriages. To meet the cost of all this, they took
British tenants at low rents; all such tenants were obliged to improve
properties. They also paid high fines for entry. At least 100,000
The settlers headed for fertile areas, places
to the sea of near natural resources. The arrival of so many people
– including farmers
and craftworkers – massively boosted the
However, the Protestant
religion failed to spread. James
I and Charles
want to damage relations with foreign governments by too much religious
Ireland. Laws against Catholics were relaxed. The Catholic Church was
tolerated. The clergy focused on missionary work, which annoyed the
officials who were themselves ready to begin missionary work. The
were forced to realise that they would not be able to start a reform
the small size of their churches reflected that.
now there were 13,000 settlers, but they did not totally colonise
counties. The Protestants felt insecure and the Catholic Gaelic Irish
resentful. The settlers were afraid,
not only of the original
also of the 5000 former swordsmen of the earls.
vast majority of Ulster settlers were Scots.
They were Presbyterian,
Anglican, which brought them into conflict with English law. This
independence of spirit which has continued to this day.
succeeded James I in 1625,
I introduced 'the
Graces', a scheme by which Catholics could obtain religious
concessions in return for monetary payment.
Wentworth was governor
caused different religions to unite
him in his efforts to extract money. Wentworth
began a wave of confiscation.
to the Crown
the settlers. Terrible atrocities were reported. On Portadown
Bridge, 100 Protestants
were stripped, thrown into the water and murdered.
rebels were reported to be horribly injuring women and children and
them to die slowly. Some people were buried alive. It seems the
the result of wild indiscipline, not
policy. In total there were around
deaths. The effect on the Northern Protestant subconscious was profound.
had been led by Ulster Catholic landowners under Phelim
who had resorted to arms, possibly in imitation of the Scottish
Covenanters who achieved special recognition for Presbyterianism
Scotland. Their inferiors however were overcome with bitterness and
on the Protestants, killing 2000 and driving tens of thousands away,
of everything. Beginning at Ulster, the revolt spread. The atrocities
exaggerated back on the mainland, and the people there demanded
revenge. The English
Civil War might have given the Irish Catholics chance to
advantage, but they were divided.
The Old English hoped
for mercy by
the king and
would not concede leadership
Roe, the nephew
O’Neill. They did
not support him in his confrontations
with the Scottish
Ulster. The Leinster lords meanwhile were unable to get government
In the period from 1641 until the Cromwellian invasion of 1649, two thirds of Ireland were ruled by the Irish Catholic Confedaration, (the 'Confederation of Kilkenny'), while Protestant areas of Ulster remained variously under the control of royalists, Scottish Covenanters and parliamentarians.
now and 1688,
the amount of land held by Catholics would drop from 59%
to 22%. The
Old English and Gaelic Irish were Catholic, but the English
becoming more puritan
All Irish Catholics became
that their religion would prejudice their rights to land. The interests
Irish and Old English were increasingly coinciding. Atrocities on both
were slowly hammering the people into two camps – Catholic
Back to top
Cromwell had defeated King
Charles I in England, but there were still
Royalist armies allied with Irish Catholic rebels in Ireland. In 1649 Cromwell
to Ireland, striking
first at Drogheda. Drogheda
is seen in Irish
nationalist legend as anti-Irish
racism, but the garrison there was
by an English Catholic and largely under English officers,
Inflamed by an initial setback, Cromwell
mercy to the
and priests, killing
2000 of them and having more shipped
may have believed he was taking revenge for 1641,
although Drogheda had
been involved – it was within the English Pale.
policy was to crush
the Catholic people. Cromwell
marched south. Some
garrisons were treated well, but Wexford
suffered 2000 casualties
women and children in the marketplace.
Catholics and shared their land amongst his soldiers and financiers.
transportation of those landowners to a barren province was known
of Cromwell’. Those left behind, tenants and
launched a programme
aimed at evangelisation, the removal of
rebellious priests and landowners and the crushing
of resistance. These
had been mooted before, but 1641 showed their urgency. Cromwell
fighters to Ireland, the best army in Europe, and resistance was
zeal was involved that the Catholic
swept aside. All Catholic estates were confiscated and their
if they could prove they had not rebelled. William
Petty carried out a
survey of Ireland.
Vacated estates were given to
Cromwell’s soldiers and
financiers, while the former proprietors were left to scramble
the Shannon. Protestant clergymen and schoolmasters were sent over, and
were strenuous efforts to get the Irish into Protestant churches,
was a barrier. However, many Protestant churchmen already in Ireland
reluctant to work within Cromwell’s framework.
Cromwell’s regime did
long, and more moderate people (including his son Henry)
came to the
who had been in Ireland pre 1641 bought land from the Cromwellian
settlers pre and post 1649 bonded together with the concern of
II was restored
to the throne but did not want to upset the Protestants
who had helped
him regain power. His faithful followers were rewarded by having their
however, the disposed Catholic landowners, including
English, were to be generally disappointed.
persecution faded. Catholic clergy returned from the Continent. The
didn’t officially tolerate Catholicism but was focusing on
Episcopal Protestant church. There were occasional acts of persecution
like the execution
Plunkett of Armagh, but the breathing
1660 to 1690 helped Catholicism re-establish itself. The Catholics
however felt defeated.
II became a Catholic
king of England and this created temporary joy. Richard
Talbot, a favourite
of James II, became Lord-Lieutenant
of Ireland. He
restoring public office to Catholics and to mobilise a Catholic army.
planned a primarily Catholic parliament at Dublin. Protestants in
Ireland were alarmed.
Irish population was around 1,300,000.
Catholic brother James
to support the Irish Catholics. A
parliament revoked the Cromwellian land
but the succession
of Orange, who usurped
the crown from James
together with his wife Mary,
was to trigger a split
sought support from the Irish; the French
came to Ireland to help.
Ireland responded to the call, frightening the Protestants. Derry
Protestant towns, denied James’ authority.
in the autumn of 1688, rumours
began to spread that Irish Catholics
loyal to James
II were massacring Protestants.
News came that a Catholic
regiment was to
be sent to Londonderry to relieve the old garrison. The people of
thought it unwise to have Catholic troops protect them. However,
figures demanded that the troops be let in, but thirteen
door against King James’ troops on 7th
began, reaching its full intensity for six weeks in the
Protestant soldier in command of the garrison, Robert Lundy
a weak Protestant), wanted to surrender, but the citizens opposed him
was forced to flee. William of Orange’s ships arrived to
relieve the city but
ships reappeared. James’
men had put a
wooden boom across the river
Foyle and the relief ships decided not to proceed. 30,000 Protestants
in Derry, starving and plagued by mortar fire. Thousands
starvation and disease. The besieging army were ill-trained and badly
there was only one attempt to breach the walls. Eventually 10,000
non-combatants were let out. Once, the besieging commander tried to
siege by rounding up local Protestants and threatening to let them
death in the open. The Derry citizens erected gallows and threatened to
Catholic prisoners, forcing the release of the Protestant prisoners.
The inhabitants of Derry responded to
a demand to surrender with ‘No
has been their watchword since.
British ships in the Foyle broke
the boom and relieved
previous hesitation had left the northern Protestants with the
awareness that they were on
|By 1695, the amount of land held by
Catholics was to drop from 22% to 14%.
of Orange landed in Ireland and defeated James
at the Boyne
on July 1st. The
of the Boyne is now marked
by Protestants on July 12th every year.
army moved towards Dublin, pushing James'
the defensive. There was stern resistance to the Williamite
it ended in in defeat at Aughrim
on 12th July.
Catholic armies surrendered
troops were exiled
to serve Louis
XIV and were known as ‘Wild
III is still
a hero to the Northern Irish Protestants, who refer to their enemies
|After Catholic surrender there was
more confiscation of their
property and a rigid
code was introduced.
of Limerick supposedly ensured
some tolerance for the Catholics,
this wasn’t carried out. The Protestants were feeling
insecure after the recent
dramatic Catholicisation of the army and law.
|Following William III’s victory, the ‘penal laws’ regulated against Catholics, denying them the right to vote, buy land, be a lawyer, join the army or navy or hold any office of state. A Catholic landlord had to bequeath his inheritance equally to his children unless one turned Protestant, in which case he got the lot. Parish priests could still practise, but friars, bishops and archbishops could not. However, the laws were applied loosely enough to allow bishops etc to exist furtively, and so new priests could be ordained. This laxness was because the vast majority were Catholic; it was easier not to suppress them. Sometimes, as in Galway, the friars would bribe the authorities who had been ordered to crack down on them.|
Back to top
the Eighteenth Century
of the seventeenth century, all land that could be put to
profitable use had been
converted into farms. Ireland
entered the eighteenth
a European structure. It was relatively populous,
living on the land. The principle
exports were textiles
and meat. Powerful landlords and the church owned most of the land.
the 1690s, the fundamental question over the Irish
whether the Dublin
assembly could originate legislation without it being adapted
This was sharpened by British attempts
to restrict the Irish
‘Patriots’, who were nonetheless Protestants and
committed to the British
connection, didn’t want their parliament to be subordinate to
Ascendancy’, who had been established by
redistributions, came to dominate. They were insecure, having survived
to the property
settlement in 1689. Protestants looked back in
bitterness to 1641
the Catholics to the Treaty
of Ireland at this time was undermanned but backed by huge
reserves of landed
the 1690s, Irish MPs took an oath denying
became the political
centre and grew in importance. By
1700 Dublin had a population of 50,000. It boasted two ancient cathedrals and
societies. There was an affluent
leisured class and a wide
network. The country was being integrated into a single coherent unit
economies and a common law. There was also a chain
garrison towns for maintaining a standing army. The principle landed
families frequently intermarried.
had a viceroy
– most English rulers
never visited it. It had
status to England. Although members of the Irish
political nation were not content with this, they were still
swayed by English fashion, having
sons educated in England when they could afford it. The wealthiest
English families, but Ireland as a whole was dogged by comparative poverty
and a lack of cultural development. Landowners relied on rent alone
diversifying into commerce. Income from rent depended on exports, and
unreliable. There was a growing dependence on British overseas markets.
was becoming more of a subsistence
economy with its growing population. While
prosperity in England, Europe as a whole was blighted
by a general recession
which led to poverty. All
Ireland's striking difference to the rest of Europe lay in the fact that most landowners and senior officials were of a different race and religion to the general population. Around 1700, most of the social elite were first generation English settlers or descendants of English people who had come over in the last couple of centuries. There were also many landowners of Old English or Gaelic origin. They were all Protestants and all believed in the advantages of the English way of life. However, there was no strategy for converting the Catholic, mainly Gaelic population to Protestantism. The most extreme divisions were to be seen in Connacht, where the land was less fertile. In more fertile lands, landlords took on tenants similar to themselves. The Irish language continued; many natives were becoming bilingual. There was a strong consciousness of being wrongfully dispossessed, although in fact the land had never actually belonged to the peasants but to ruling kinship groups. It was the previously privileged groups like priests and poets who had lost status, and who now fostered a myth of a lost golden age. The sharp loss of continuity with Ireland’s past was what set it apart from other European societies.
Bills were passed on inheritance rights and leases.
came into force, such as that Catholics could
arms or own a horse worth
more than £5.
ascended to the throne. By this time, only 7% of land in Ireland was
held by Catholics, despite the fact that Catholics constituted 75% of
were determined by land ownership. A comparatively small number of
many seats. The College Green Parliament reflected their needs, except
1714 family connections became the cement of politics. The
involved Ascendancy families managing parliamentary factions.
of George I Act declared the constitutional status of Irish
legislature to be subordinate. Poynings
Law already limited parliament’s rights.
officials and polemicists resented this.
Toryism differed from English; it was hard-line Protestant and
Irish Whiggery was seen as too pro-English and soft on Catholics. The
tradition was expressed by Charles
Lucas, a radical, Jonathan
Patriots supported the priorities of landed
Protestants which included placing constraints on
implementing cheap government. Protestant insecurity was such that they
kept a huge army for their protection against foreign invasion and
native insurrection, especially through the agrarian secret societies.
They often resented the English influence.
freeholders formally lost the vote. Anti-Catholic
legislation was being pushed
Irish Protestants than by the English, although some Protestants did
Catholic gentry to retain their lands. Catholics continued
faith and their rights were gradually returned to them.
harvests saw rural
destitution, but afterwards both the population and
expanded. The east and south
became more Anglicised and commercialised.
prosperous farming class developed. Modern historians do not agree on
the extent of poverty during this time.
|Despite the English tariff on Irish
woollens after the boom of the 1690s, the
industry diversified and the Ulster linen
industry was born.
restrictions caused few problems. Trading
networks expanded as transport
improved. Many towns
prospered; the cattle-market was an important
prosperity. Textiles and agricultural exports mainly went to England. Linen
a huge domestic industry, dominated by Protestants. Cotton
appear. Where there was no varied local economy, small farmers and
became dependent on pigs and potatoes. Holdings tended to be let out
multiplied rather than farmed in large units.
in the Later Eighteenth Century
|(Second half 18th C)||In the absence
of political rights,
a network of agrarian secret
societies emerged, known as the ‘Whiteboys’.
Whiteboys were frequently violent,
often in reaction to taxes or the spread of the dairy economy. They protected
peasants from rack-renting landlords. They were only
affairs, not national politics. The Irish people lived in extreme
reserved their loyalties for the church and secret societies.
Catholics, who were still allowed to trade, emphasized their loyalty to
was much violence between Protestant small farmers and upwardly mobile Catholics,
particularly as incomes began to level off at the end of the
first people to talk of an Irish nation were recent Protestant settlers
to Protestantism. They were known as the Protestant
Ascendancy and they
highly aspirational. Their culture included the literature of Swift,
and others. They wanted
to be treated by Britain as an equal
dean of St Patrick’s in Dublin,
argued that the
English parliament had no right to legislate for Ireland. However, the
had little significance. English restrictions on Irish trade stirred
up the Irish colonists’ political restlessness, and
inspired by the
example of colonists in America, whose 1770s rebellion
was an important
for Ireland. At that time, the Protestant nation formed companies of
under the pretext of defending Ireland
in the absence of British
to the throne and the tempo of Patriotism
in America focused ‘Patriotic’ Irish
own position. Whigs
opportunistically made the same links. There were also
strong connections between Ulster
forged from generations
this year there was a powerful campaign to allow Ireland unrestricted
world trade. ‘Patriotic’ and other discontents
joined a military volunteering
movement, which the government reluctantly recognised. Pressure
Volunteers and ‘patriot’ rhetoricians
as well as
threats of non-cooperation
from the Irish House of Commons helped repeal commerce restrictions and
make constitutional concessions in 1782.
The British government relaxed penal laws against Catholics in order to secure the support of the majority and allow Catholics to join the army
|1780||(June). Lord George
Gordon led riots
in England against
Grattan’s ‘Patriot Party’ won a
Declaration of [Legislative] Independence
the Irish Parliament. Britain and Ireland were to be two sovereign independent
kingdoms linked by a common Crown. The Sixth
of George I was repealed.
was called ‘Grattan’s
its authority was still inconclusive, with
the Privy Council having power over Irish legislation. Ascendancy
figures still wielded
much influence. John
Fitzgibbon of Clare, for example, blocked
concessions to Catholics as he feared sectarian tension. Political
emancipation of the Catholics were needed to make Ireland a
‘Nation’, and the
Protestant Irish weren’t unanimous on this.
Revolution took place, overthrowing
the ruling powers in France. This conveyed the message that the will of
people was enough to effect
change. Belfast Presbyterians formed the Society
which promoted unifying the Catholic and Protestant nations into one. Wolfe
Tone, a Dublin Protestant, was a member. They had limited
decade was prosperous
and began in apparently stability. Architecture,
jewellery and furniture and decorative art bear witness to this. Dublin
represented the apex of architectural achievement. Belfast was shaping
become an industrial boom city, becoming the chief export centre for
There was slight tension between Dublin and Belfast.
United Irishmen had
begun as a debating society, French-influenced,
class and Presbyterian. William
Drennan, an ‘aristocratic
The most famous United Irishman was Kildare
Wolfe Tone, a pro-Catholic campaigner. It was he who steered
United Irishmen into a ‘French Revolutionary’
movement with links to the
gained the vote and civil rights. The liberalisation of land laws only
heightened tensions with the secretive ‘Defenders’
becoming more openly
political. Politicians split on Catholic emancipation (their right to
parliament or hold high office).
government tried to crack down on radical activity but only succeeded
in exacerbating the situation. Farmers
and the lower
middle/skilled working class joined, although the leadership continued
middle class. Sectarianism was rife lower down in the movement.
morale sank following a succession of Catholic Relief Acts.
Society was founded,
taking its name from William
They were a
reorganisation of an agrarian/working class secret
society called the
O’Day Boys’, who terrorised
Catholics. The first Orange
lodges appeared; their
role was to oppose the Defenders.
resistance to tax.
Fitzwilliam as viceroy attempted
to offer total Catholic emancipation
and was repudiated
by the government. The British government were however
seminary for Catholics
opened. It was hoped that this would
Catholic church. It meant priests would
not be trained
drawn from the peasantry.
merchants were still important, despite their exclusion
from guilds. Dissenters
were also discriminated against, helping to form the
Presbyterian political culture of Ulster.
provided a revolutionary
spur, particularly amongst the Presbyterian
bourgeoisie in Belfast. Rumours of rebellions abounded even before
France went to war.
Irishmen had become a secret society who preached violence. Wolfe
persuaded the French
a fleet to Ireland in December
Irish Republic. The fleet was battered
weather. There was a
militia waiting to oppose them and a local landlord organised the
it was the weather that drove the ships away. A further fleet was
by now the government was awake to the threat and cracked down
the secret society. Another factor in ruining the society
the sectarian Orange Society which attracted Protestants.
Irishmen around, the authorities saw the usefulness of the
in exploiting sectarian
Dublin aristocrat, Lord Edward
Fitzgerald, tried to organise a national
rebellion led by the United Irishmen and incorporating the
secret society network, particularly the Defenders who had their own
nationalist politics. However, informers
betrayed the United
Irish Society. Alarmed by the scale of
government unleashed repression
on the Midland
to elicit information. Other brutal
pitch-capping were carried out. Thousands of arrests were made and arms
uncovered. The eventual rebellion was confused, and the peasants were
the Protestants – who were sectarian-minded
– were given the job of
searching for arms and information after the port of Wexford was named
possible site for French landing. The local population were terrified,
make things worse the North Cork militia turned up and began flogging
Wexford rebellion seems to have been a panicky response to the torture.
John Murphy became a peasants’ leader in the
revolt. This was
not really a
nationalist rebellion; the North Cork militia prisoners begged for
Irish but the peasants didn’t understand it. The events in
probably driven more by land hunger, economic crisis and anger at taxes
nationalism. After a victory at Oulart
Hill, the rebels camped on Vinegar
This was more a bundle of refugees from the troops than a military
had no strategy, except revenge; they began by murdering Protestant
A barn containing Protestant men, women and children was set on fire at
with any survivors being brutally
killed – 200
in all. This did
the rebel cause no good. A Protestant
Harvey, a member of the UIS, took command of the campaign. He
ineffective in curbing the lust for revenge, or defining a strategy.
had gone south, capturing Wexford but forgoing the chance to join with
rebel groups. This gave the government time, and they began to suffer
They were eventually viciously slaughtered on Vinegar
in the rebellion.
uprising in Ulster
failed. Rumours of southern atrocities were fuelling
sectarianism. By the time the French landed in Ireland it was too late.
Tone was captured and committed suicide.
think in terms of an Irish ascendancy class whose interests would be
by the English. Meanwhile, the rebellion proved to Catholics that they
of 1798 has become distorted into an expression of the
idea’, tainted by British treachery.
the Irish of ignorance and
|By now barely 5% of Irish land was owned by Catholics.|
Back to top
Click here for web links about the Act of Union and Robert Emmet Rebellion
July) the Act
of Union passed,
the Irish Parliament. It became law on the 1st January 1801.
Initially the Protestants opposed
grounds while the Catholics favoured it because the
would protect their interests better than the Protestant Ascendancy
These opinions were soon reversed.
Catholics came to adopt Irish
nationalism. Some individual Protestants, who still believed
patriotism between the two nations, supported them. Despite this, it
became a Catholic cause.
passing of the Act
of Union occurred with the usual patronage
Nationalist mythology tends to put the blame on the British for this,
forgetting that it was typical of Ascendancy
politics. Although Prime
Pitt had promised Catholic emancipation along with the Union,
III opposed it on the grounds that his Coronation
Oath committed him to uphold the Anglican Church. Pitt
the Act of Union, the Ascendancy declined.
to Westminster and began to support the Union in the
growing Catholic pressure for democratic
rights. Only the more liberal
country gentry still opposed the Union. Agrarian
societies continued, often along sectarian lines (demanding
Catholics and the extirpation of Protestants).
After 1800 the Dublin castle system continued.
Ireland had 100
of 658 in the Commons. The Union brought free
trade with Britain,
some support from the Catholic bourgeoisie. However, British
industrialisation meant that free trade was not to
advantage. Nationalist rhetoric denounced the
exploitation of Ireland, calling the Union a failed marriage. Anglophobia became
opposition to the Union.
the population had doubled
to 5 million, with most growth amongst
poorer classes. Many farmers re-let tenanted land to make money. Some
Gaelic landowning families continued as prosperous subtenants. These
who let and re-let land.
Jan). The two kingdoms were united
‘forever’. The Act of Union abolished
Irish parliament, which had met at the grand Parliament
Green - still a potent image of Irish achievements. However,
were always uncertain. The
administration could not compete with the presence of British barracks
police. Protestant monopolies continued blatantly in law,
had been to seize Dublin
encourage the rest
of the country to rebel. His followers murdered
Kilwarden, and Emmet
fled. He is famous for his speech
in the dock
capture, in which he said his epitaph should not be written until
Ireland was a
free nation. He was executed
on September 20th.
During the next years, Belfast industrialised rapidly. Linen and brewing prospered, while other trades struggled in the free market. Belfast's expansion lead to the influx of a Catholic proletariat, stimulating debate amongst the Ulster Presbyterians – pro-emancipation liberals versus fundamentalists, who were led by Henry Cooke. The Ulster Protestants were egalitarian in some ways but believed in their political and religious rightness. Catholicism meanwhile had its own political dimension because of its informal power, its Gaelic strain, its Roman links and its role in symbolising Irish identity. Catholic churches began to spring up after the Union even while architecture in general was declining. In the North East, the population was divided into Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Catholic. Orange lodges were founded. There was also Protestant political activity in towns like Cork.
collapsed and with the population expanding, rural
violence was common.
Landlords complained that the population were
and habituated to being kept down by force. Agrarian
and often anti-Protestant, but more localised than nationalist. The Ribbonmen
were Catholic with connections to Defenderism,
who drew from both rural
working class neighbourhoods.
|1817||A severe famine
O'Connell and the Catholic Association
formed by Daniel
O’Connell. It was financed
by the ‘Catholic
The proposed government veto on appointing priests helped create a
the aristocratic leadership, but it was O’Connell
elite of Catholic
lawyers who mobilised mass politics. They wanted rights, not
were mass demonstrations and an ‘alternative
parliament’ in Dublin.
|1826||A Protestant Catholic
Association candidate beat the local aristocrat’s
choice in the Waterford
in droves against their landlords.
O’Connell stood at Clare.
He was to become known as the Liberator
liberated the Irish majority from their political obscurity. His
were to allow Catholics to sit in Parliament and to campaign
As part of his first campaign for Catholic
Emancipation he built up a
organisation including Catholic clergy and middle-class supporters.
could join his Catholic
Association for a penny a month, and it soon
large sums. O’Connell
had a horror of popular violence, but
he stressed the
physical power that lay in the mass support behind him.
won at Clare
but was not
allowed to take his seat until he scored a
victory. The government were worried by the menacing discipline of his
followers, who marched in columns. For the first time, Irish popular
was a force in British politics.
Emancipation passed. Catholics
were allowed to sit in
parliament and hold most
high offices, but the franchise was raised
to £10, losing
them many voters.
|1831 - 1836||Violent
resistance to the collection of church tithes.
Society was banned over a political
to put the Duke
the throne. Respectable Irish opinion towards the Orangemen was
Ireland movement of this decade was led by
Protestant nationalists who
were often anti-English. The Young
Irelanders published an extreme
Nation, which used
Irish history to argue that Ireland could become ‘a
once again’. A cult
of ‘dying for Ireland’ emerged, with an emphasis on
rebellion. The Protestant
establishment as well as the British government were threatened.
spent this decade
at Westminster allying with Whigs and Radicals,
time he got tithes to the Church of Ireland abolished and improvements
government, education and health care. Elective
councils were introduced in urban areas, and a Poor
The Ascendancy felt itself under attack.
British state attempted some modernising initiatives. O’Connell
backed some and
opposed others, such as secular primary education. He supported
whittle down the powers of local gentry.
force was centralised and professionalized as the Royal
Constabulary. They were largely Protestant but fairly
|1839||(Jan) The Night
of the Big Wind.
O’Connell of the Catholic
Association held Monster Meetings
for the Repeal of
the Union and the restoration of the Irish Parliament which would be
by the Catholic majority. The two kingdoms would be close partners but
legislations, sharing a monarch. O’Connell
hoped to convert English
arguing that recognition of Ireland’s claim to be a nation
would undermine all
call for separation. His Monster Meetings attracted huge,
crowds. He began his Repeal campaign after the fall of the White
now, 5 million people had pledged
abstinence. The church was trying
out more subversive pastimes like ‘patterns’
The movement was marked
by an atmosphere of ‘improvement’.
government made legislation to favour the Catholic church
– the Charitable Bequests Act
Grant. The Church was rationalising its structure
broadening its social control. There were too many clergy in comparison
Aug) The greatest
Meeting, on the Royal Hill of Tara,
least 750,000 people. In O’Connell’s speech he
said the size of the crowd
would inspire pride and fear, and they were approaching Repeal with the
of a giant. However, the government
banned one meeting at Clontarf
to jail for conspiracy, although the
Lords reversed this. Clontarf
had been chosen because of its association with Brian
the Norsemen in 1014.
By this time, the eighteenth century
fashion for antiquities and history had become bound up with politics.
character and the ‘folk’ were growing in Europe.
Many histories intended either
to validate or invalidate the Union were written. Thomas
Moore and Lady
were nationalist writers, and the harp was adopted as a symbol
There was an idea of an apostolic succession of national martyrs.
was to build up a store of national strength. He
channelled the Church’s bond with the people into politics.
Irish consciousness were firmly linked.
|Around this time, the Orange Order was reconstituted when O’Connell’s campaign for Repeal of the Union became a threat. A royal commission at the time commented that they were emotional and uneducated, and regarded the Catholics as inferior.|
Back to top
The Great Famine
|1845 – 49||The years of the
famine. The famine
and it has
The exact race of Ireland's rulers however was not clear-cut; they
consisted of a mixture of both English and Gaelic. Britain and Ireland
had been connected so long politically and
administratively that they were no longer clearly two separate
countries. Even so, because of the geographical and cultural gulf (half
of the population
spoke Irish before English) the British government cared
less about the
than the English and Welsh or Scots.
Most Irish, apart from those in the north east, were dependent for survival on the potato crop. The poorest peasants were forced to sell most of their cereal crops to pay rent. As the population exploded, going from 4.5 million in 1800 to 8 million in 1841, the situation grew precarious. Land was being subdivided in ever smaller plots and more people were dependent on potatoes. The crop had already failed a couple of times, with a severe famine in 1817. The government knew disaster was looming.
problems and subsistence
standards in the west climaxed in the famine.
economy was largely unindustrialised but was supplying the
British market. A rapidly expanding population caused huge strain. When
crop failed, the free
market economists of the time,
John Russell, tried to place
the burden on Irish property and did very
to help. Some landlords
bankrupted themselves to help their tenants,
others were harsh. Many people died or emigrated.
Sept) First report of disease
in the potato
crop. It was
caused by a fungus.
England was also affected, but people were not dependent on potatoes
week of Oct). The situation was beginning to look
desparate. The worst threat at first
was in County
Mayo, where 90% survived off potatoes. Sir
the Prime Minister,
remarked that the Irish tended
to exaggerate, but he appointed a
enquiry. This recommended some worthless measures for protecting the
|(Nov). Special mass
was held in all Catholic churches.
Every county was now affected and ¾ of
country’s potato crop had been destroyed.
Typhus was soon registered in 25 counties out of 32. Peel
maize to be shipped to Ireland. He organised a relief
Dublin which would organise committees
of the wealthier people to supply
food and employment through public works. The Board
grain imported into the UK were removed
– the so-called ‘Corn
Laws’. The price of bread
fell, but about a third of the Irish couldn’t afford bread
economy’ ruled – the market should not be
with. Therefore people
could not be given food as this would undermine market prices and might
withhold food from the market. Charles
Trevelyan was chief official in
of relief measures, and a strong believer in political economy. The
America was not to be handed out immediately, but to be used as an
lever; when food prices rose too much, it could be sold.
General opening of grain
depots. By this time the poor were desperate. Crimes
were being committed for food. Respectable British opinion sometimes
more concerned with the threat to property than of starvation, and a
was brought before Commons proposing a curfew and tough
punishments. Unfortunately the relief
commission’s subsidizing of local committees was proceeding
slowly, and the lack of
employment only encouraged crime. Sir Robert Peel complained that there
was violence, including murder, being inflicted on the supporters of
the Queen. At this time, plenty of food
available, both leaving
and entering the country; it was just not given
hungry. Trevelyan decided to close down the grain depots because they
cope with demand.
The government expected a good harvest in 1846. Trevelyan began to wind up the scheme of public works. In June, he rejected a cargo of Indian corn. Even as signs began appearing that the new harvest was blighted, Trevelyan ceased all relief operations. He believed that this was the only way to prevent habitual dependency. He was concerned that private enterprise would be paralysed and Ireland would be ‘on’ Britain. The potato failures because obvious, but Russell announced that food provision would be left to market forces. Trevelyan decided to reorganise the public works scheme, compelling landlords to share the burden; the government would loan them money, giving grants only in the most desperate areas. The public works projects, which included road construction, lowering hills and filling in holes, took weeks to organise, and parties of hundreds of men were going around pleading for work. There were food riots, and workhouses were mobbed. By this time many were too weak to work. Trevelyan began to purchase cheap ‘Indian’ (American) corn, but the first starvation deaths were being reported.
John Russell became Prime Minister.
this time 140,000 were employed on public works. This fed in total
people. The workhouses,
with a capacity of 100,000, were filling
rapidly. 1.5 million were still starving. The government felt that the
should be responsible for the people. Some of them were active,
rents, starting employment schemes, even distributing food. Some
cruel, even evicting tenants.
ordered that no landlord should profit from the public works schemes,
and so no
agricultural improvements or cultivation of other crops occurred. The
was often worthless, even destructive. Wages on public works had to be
than those on the ordinary labour market so as not to undercut it,
fact that ordinary labour was almost extinct. Wages were often not paid
long periods because of bureaucracy. Some men starved to death at work.
newspaper accused the Irish of indolence and thoughtlessness
5000 people attacked the workhouse at Listowel
‘bread or blood’.
Dec). By this time 400,000 people were employed
works, but there were
many left unemployed. Even those who had work had a long wait for the
arrive. Some relief officers, who had been selling last
year’s corn, were
reprimanded for undermining market
forces. There was an official
people weren’t making enough effort to get food. Some people
maintained that the Irish were exaggerating. Meanwhile, the death
There were not enough coffins; some of the poor
were buried in pits.
|1847||Death of Daniel
epidemic of typhus
well-fed towns like Belfast
It was carried by people
and doctors began to die
of the fever.
consciences were disturbed, and two major charitable
free food from soup kitchens and funding local committees. The Quakers
British Association were involved,
the Association attracting large
government was less
support was also received from America.
By this time, 728,000 were employed on public works. Thousands of
on them, especially the old. The harshness of winter killed many. The
government finally decided to distribute free food. A Soup
allocated public funds. The relief works were wound up rapidly while
Kitchens were slow in appearing. There was a sharp rise in deaths.
By this time, about 100,000 Irish had emigrated
now 3 million Irish adults and children were receiving
accused the Poor
Law Unions of supporting those who didn’t
potato harvest was good, but small, and the Soup Kitchen Act was
New Poor Law legislation was to be enacted, allowing workhouses to
relief. New Poor Law rates would cover this. Anyone who owned
a quarter of an acre of land was not eligible, forcing many to give up
Sept). By now, two million of those who had been on relief
were now reliant on workhouses
and local rates. The Irish papers predicted that the rate
would not be able to support the influx of rural poor, and they were
Despite this, the British government provided
no more help. Many
bankrupted, farmers were ruined. Trevelyan said Ireland must be left to
of natural causes’. He believed too much had been
done for the people
and it had made them worse.
1847, a quarter
of a million of Irish emigrated.
The rate continued at
level for four more years. Most, 75%, went to America.
board the emigrant
were sometimes appalling
– they were unsanitary and overcrowded,
with little food and water available and fever rampant. The worst
conditions were experienced on
Many died on the ship, or left it with fever. At Quebec,
immigrants were thrown
onto the beach where they crawled to dry land.
1847, ¼ million were emigrating
annually, often the young
labourers began to disappear.
declined and many huge estates collapsed.
|1847/8 (winter) Evictions increased and corpses lay unburied.|
Back to top
Revolt of the Young Irelanders
County Tipperary: beginning of violent
action with the Battle
MacCormack’s Cabbage Garden. It was led by William
Harrow-educated Protestant, descended from the great Gaelic High King Brian
originally been a member of O’Connell’s
peaceful campaign for the Repeal of the
Union, but during the
famine he had gravitated towards a sub-group known as ‘Young
Ireland’. They preached
a common nationality embracing Catholics and Protestants. The
of O’Connell’s movement grew wilder as the famine
went on. John
son of an Ulster Presbyterian Minister, founded a newspaper called
Irishmen’, preaching republicanism and rebellion. After Mitchel’s
O’Brien became the militant leader despite his
He began inciting Tipperary to revolt. A warrant was issued for his
arrest. A party
Irish constabulary moved on Ballingarry but found barricades and many
some armed. The constables took refuge in Widow MacCormack’s
house – her five
children were at home. The police started smashing furniture to make a
barricade and, after shots from the mob, fired out of the house killing
people before more police arrived. This was known as ‘the
battle of Widow
MacCormack’s cabbage garden’, but in 1916 Patrick
Pearse was to list it amongst
the six rebellions.
Stephens, a lieutenant of O’Brien,
escaped to France where he
took part in
resistance to Louis Napoleon. With his experience, Stephens was to
thinking of forming a new professional modern secret
society to help
an Irish Republic.
Ireland movement faded after the failed Rising,
but its ideas
exported to America. Future Irish politics would owe more to the church
agrarian secret societies than to the class-oriented politics of more
The new potato crop was blighted again.
most terrible famine
year of all. Yet at the same time good
exported from Ireland. The wealthy were still holding dances.
Despite being informed of the continuing tragedy, John
the state was incapable of helping. He didn’t feel justified
in asking the
house for the £100,000 necessary to prevent starvation. Trevelyan
writing a history
of the Famine, which he claimed ended in August 1847.
decades afterwards the Irish were plagued with the question
of why the
government hadn’t done more. Their conclusion was that
Ireland should run its
own affairs. The population
had shrunk from 8,175,124 in 1841 to
1851. 1.5 had emigrated; 800,000 had died.
|(Mid 19th C)||By this time, Catholic churches were being built again. Until then, Catholics had had to celebrate mass in the open or in ruined churches.|
Back to top
Click here for web links about Fenianism
In this decade, the word ‘Fenian’ was first used for an Irish Republican organisation. It came from ‘Fianna’, legendary warrior heroes.
The Reform Act of 1832 had increased the electorate and based the franchise on occupation rather than property-owning. It helped create a new political nation, Catholic and rural, which admitted the church to political leadership. Archbishop Paul Cullen was ready to comment on any political question with a bearing on faith and morals.
1850s saw a wave of evangelical Protestant revivalism,
especially in Ulster.
Belfast became more organised on
sectarian lines. Although officially
in 1836, the Orange
Order lodges still had their potency.
culture was beginning to appear.
Fenianism also emerged. ‘Fenian’ was the name for the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret society emerging in the late 1850s. It had many strands, including Irish-American exiles and agrarian secret societies. It represented clerks and journalists of the new lower middle class. It was conspiratorial, Anglophobic and keen to make sacrificial gestures. Young Irelander John Mitchel had written an Irish history based on 800 years of national struggle, culminating in deliberate genocide. The church was uneasy towards this brand of nationalism, which resembled a secular religion.
From the late 1840s tenant societies had formed, representing well-off farmers; this managed briefly to form a national organisation in the 1850s.
James Stephens made a 3000 mile tour of Ireland, mostly on foot, to gauge the potential for revolution. He found plenty of dissatisfaction but little evidence of planned revolt.
(17th March). James Stephens formed what would become the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He and his fellow conspirators swore an oath to fight for Ireland as an Independent Democratic Republic.
Stephens received encouragement from America – embittered emigrants promised to provide material help. A comrade from 1848, John O’Mahony, went to America where he and Stephens formed the Fenian Brotherhood. Strong precautions were taken against informers. The society was divided into closed ‘circles’ with limited contact. When one circle was caught in Dublin, they passed themselves off as a small bunch of foolish young nationalists, the ‘Phoenix Society’. They were led by Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.
Stephens organised a spectacular funeral in Ireland for the American Fenian Terence Bellew MacManus. The Church officially disapproved of Fenianism, but they employed a dissident radical priest. Stephens then exploited the publicity to tour Ireland and start a newspaper. The Irish People reminded people about the Fenian Brotherhood. Stephens felt that the American Fenians were too jolly, (‘Irish tinsel patriots’), and in fact their contribution had been limited. The Irish emigrants were settling into America and although bitter, felt no practical need to support nationalism.
John Devoy, Stephens’ aid in Ireland, had been undermining British soldiers with a new secret oath and by drilling civilians in secrecy. He had 85,000 men in Ireland, and trained soldiers were beginning to return from America. After a betrayal by a spy, the staff of the Irish People were arrested, Stephens two months after the rest. People relaxed after the fear of rebellion, but with insider help Stephens escaped. Tension rose again, but in reality Stephens’ 85,000 men were not well armed or controlled. Stephens persuaded his Irish-American comrades to postpone the rebellion.
Stephens declared that this was ‘the year’ before postponing again, possibly because his arrest had shaken him. He was deposed by the American Fenians and replaced by Colonel Kelly. A French soldier named Cluseret took over the military side. Their headquarters were in London. The rebellion was to involve cutting rail and telegraph communications and attacking police until aid could come from America. There was no plan for pitched battles.
On June 2nd, American Fenians clashed with Canadian militia at Ridgeway.
(11th Feb). An attempted attack on Chester Castle had to be called off when an informer betrayed it – not before many armed Irishmen had arrived in Chester.
(5th March). A second attempt on Chester was betrayed by the same informer. In Ireland itself, the Fenians scored a couple of successes, taking the police barracks at Ballyknockane and the coastguard station at Knockadown, but eventually the Fenians were forced to flee for the hills. The entire rising was a disaster, but it has still been celebrated since as heroism.
(Sept) Colonel Thomas Kelly and another man, Captain Timothy Deasy, were arrested; thirty Fenians surrounded the prison van, killing a police officer and rescuing Kelly and Keasy. Three men were executed for the attack, later known as the ‘Manchester Martyrs’.
At this time a Fenian leader, Richard O’Sullivan Burke, was being held at Clerkenwell. His comrades tried to rescue him by blowing up the wall, but they flattened several houses, killing twelve people. This atrocity brought the Irish quest to public attention. Gladstone was induced to start reforming the Irish land system which was the main grievance of the Irish. He eventually committed himself to Home Rule. The promise of Home Rule meant that Ireland quietened down.
|The failed rising convinced many ‘physical-force men’ of the benefits of parliamentary agitation.|
Back to top
Church in Ireland was disestablished.
between moderates and extremists. The vitality of the movement to
Protestant interests came from the Orange
Lodges. One Grand Master was
for leading a 20,000 strong Orange march.
Stewart Parnell, a Protestant landowner from County Meath,
active in politics.
from the tradition of pre-Union Protestant independence. His
great-grandfather had opposed the Union.
His maternal grandfather had
the British in 1812; his grandmother was American. At Cambridge he had
and expelled for fighting, and he developed a reputation for aggressiveness
when he entered the Commons. He was soon known as an extremist amongst
otherwise gentlemanly supporters of Home
described him as
Englishman of the strongest sort moulded for an Irish
Carleton predicted a land war. By the late 1860s, threats
made against landsharks who took the property of evicted tenants, and
who evicted tenants over grazing. People wanted land, expecting a new
The landlords themselves, who identified the Tenant
‘socialistic’, were from a wide strata of society.
Landlords still had
influence at local elections but were challenged by farmers and
the dominant class were strong farmers, shop keepers,
Act gave evicted tenants compensation
for expenditure on their
symbolically implied the end of the Protestant Ascendancy. The land
virtually closed after the Famine. In the new
system, tenants and
chose their own successors. The Land Act gave this strength.
had economic, social and political
stability. The Poor Law
was coping, unemployment was ameliorated by emigration and the rural
were prosperous. The Catholic church and middle class had attained new
respectability; Ulster Protestants were enjoying Victorian
looked forward to Ireland becoming a modern industrialised society. The
of 1867 was ignored. However, this stability depended on emigration.
Nearly half as many Irish natives lived overseas as at home. All
emigrated, but especially the poor. Some migration was seasonal. The American
recession of the 1870s resulted in
congestion as would the First World War, contributing to social unrest.
The average family had six
reared for emigration in the hope that they would support their
abroad. Property control became smoother, with the acquisition of
spouse and farm
being almost inseparable. Urbanisation and agricultural modernisation
slow. Industrial expansion was concentrated around Belfast.
did not begin to decline until World War One, and the shipbuilding
industry was strong.
Dublin did not markedly industrialise. Most people worked on the land.
didn’t attract investors as it was seen as lawless.
was more attractive than tillage due to diversification of diet and
depopulation. New technology was slow to come in, partly due to the
of tenant farmers and reluctance of landlords to invest.
Butt, a Protestant, had initiated the Home
Government Association. By
nationalists were allied with the Liberals, but this alienated the
The ‘Ascendancy’ campaigned against land reform, Home Rule
disestablishment. The Ulster Protestants put up the most resistance.
workers of Belfast promoted their interests through factional
The unionists were to
oppose the Home Rule
initiatives of 1886,
Protestant and Catholic Ulstermen
their own fraternities. Some evangelist Protestant crusades militated
|1871 – 1911||During
this time, Protestant
workers helped edge Catholics out of the better jobs.
initiated the Home Rule League.
against Britain would
only be justified by majority vote. Parnell
accommodated ex-Fenians. He
mobilised the Catholic church for Home Rule. Paul
had not been
helpful, but Parnell
was so successful in getting united popular
the church could either withdraw from politics or co-operate.
stated in Parliament that he believed there was no murder
exams were introduced for the civil
loomed, but a massive charitable operation staved it off. Since the beginning of the first
people had emigrated.
This in some ways improved the agricultural
but many peasants were still dependent on potatoes. The 1870s had been
relatively prosperous, but the later part of the decade saw cheap grain
flooding in from
America, hitting farm prices, and the potato crop began to fail. There
Davitt, an ex-Fenian newly released from prison, campaigned
rates, an end to evictions and an eventual transfer of ownership from
to tenant. He created the Land League,
consisted of Fenian and radical elements together with tenant
and aimed to protect tenants from eviction. The League lost support
radicalised. The land
campaign involved violence not just against
also tenants who disobeyed Land League orders, such as by taking land
eviction. The League’s leaders publicly disapproved of this,
but the rank and
file included both former Fenians at the top level and members of
secret societies. The ex-Fenians believed they were laying foundations
Irish national thinking amongst farmers and peasants. Parnell
involved in the violent, extremist side, although he knew
Instead, he invented the idea of ‘boycotting’,
named after its first
The victim would be ignored.
became leader of the Irish
Party after the death of the more moderate Isaac
was sympathetic to Irish problems, but brought in a
Bill to halt the land
war, giving the police and army special powers
suspending some civil liberties such as Habeas Corpus. Parnell
Commons into a continuous 41 hour session in resistance, after which Parnell
and 35 of his MPs were escorted out. Gladstone
introduced a bill to
Irish land system, but Parnell
was temporarily a prisoner of his more
supporters and felt obliged to oppose the bill for being too moderate.
included Land Courts to set fair rents and guaranteed rent payers
tenure, as well as granting tenants the right to sell their holdings.
became law but Parnell
grew increasingly belligerent. In his speeches
Ireland, he denounced the British
visited America and gave speeches about Irish nationalism. In the same
began an adulterous affair with Katherine
O’Shea, wife of an
Irish member of
now the Land
had taken on a Home Rule aspect. Until then, the
body had been very loosely organised.
declared he wanted the Crown to be the only link to Ireland. Gladstone
in his speeches; he accused him of ambivalence to the
responded with harsh words. He was arrested and lodged at Kilmainham
jail. It meant he was a martyr for the extremists while not
responsibility for their actions. The new Land
was actually working
could afford to turn to a more nationalist
were trying to get the tenants to pay no rent, but the tenants were
the land courts’ decisions. Parnell,
still in jail, felt the
need to make a deal
He offered to calm the Irish situation if Gladstone
at Ireland’s national aspirations. The O’Sheas
represented him while he was in
Parnell was released under the unwritten Kilmainham
Treaty, under which
to co-operate with Gladstone.
new Chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord
Frederick Cavendish, was murdered
with his Under-Secretary
Park, Dublin. Their murderers were
members now called the ‘Invincibles’.
acted with the support of
the Land League of Great Britain. The murder was disastrous
Distrust amongst the Liberals about whether Home Rule could mean
party increased in the General
Election as agricultural labourers had
He gained 80% of Irish representation. The Irish Party now had the
between Liberals and Conservatives. Gladstone eventually came round to
Home Rule bill failed to pass through Commons. Parnell had
made a speech
sincerely accept the Home Rule Bill as the final settlement of the
Question. Strongest opposition
to the bill came from the Protestants
Northern Ireland. In the Commons, the Conservatives
the Orange card’. Both
moderates and extremist Protestants were united against Home Rule.
knew the bill would not get through the Lords. Gladstone
sympathetic to Ulster,
pointing out that they were in the minority. Parnell was more
placatory, saying that the Protestants would exercise a
on making laws and welcoming all creeds and classes to Ireland. The
ultimately defeated due to Liberal defection, but the fact that it had
raised at all was a triumph. At this time, Parnell’s party
held the balance of
power in the Commons by helping the Tories eradicate
were threats of civil war from Ulster
even before the Home Rule Bill
introduced. Men were arming themselves and drilling. After the Bill was
defeated, there were celebratory riots in Belfast
and people were
church endorsed Home Rule. In return, Parnell
denominational education. This alliance between the church and nationalism
Mr O’Shea was trying to get his wife
back from Parnell. He
would not divorce
her because she was due to come in for a large inheritance.
of Campaign’ took place – Land
accused of writing letters
to justify and
the Phoenix Park murders. He was sensationally cleared and won sympathy
the British public.
O’Shea came into her inheritance, and her husband
filed for divorce. The
divorce case was to ruin Parnell’s
reputation. He and Mrs O’Shea did not defend
themselves in court, and
embarrassing charges were made. Catholic Ireland and English
the backbone of Liberal support – were shocked.
calling for his resignation. He threatened to resign unless Parnell
need for Gladstone’s support contributed to the
Party’s eventual decision to get
rid of Parnell. Parnell had also been a brutal disciplinarian
ignored local issues.
|1890||(Dec). A stormy
meeting of the Party took place, after which the
voted to depose Parnell.
It then split into those who were for and who against Parnell. The
Church was against him. Parnell became
desperate, turning to the Fenians
for support. He
lost three by-elections in a row, campaigning furiously despite
health. He was to die of a heart attack aged 45.
Conservatives, needing an effective identity, decided to oppose Home
behalf of the Ulster Protestants. The Liberal-Nationalist alliance
even despite non-conformist hostility to Catholic causes and the
the Irish Party in this year.
was Conservatives who brought in the most lasting initiatives. They
create a ‘peasant proprietary’ and to modernise
agriculture. The nationalists
however preferred a rhetorical alliance with Liberalism to the more
reforms of ‘constructive
unionism’. Reform could
have made Irish Catholics
uninterested in national freedom. The Tories were ‘killing
Home Rule by
|1891|| (Oct). Death
The Irish Party split into warring fragments. Parnellism
attracted those who were worried by clerical interference in politics.
formed a cult around Parnell, including many intellectuals and cultural
was one of these. This new cult was heavily
|1892||Liberals carried a Home Rule Bill through the Commons. The Ulster Unionists had already held a convention with 12,000 delegates where violence was urged to save the country. The idea of a Dublin parliament was denounced. They also spoke of spilling blood when in Parliament. The Irish nationalists and their Liberal supporters dismissed this as a bluff. There was a truth in this in the sense that the Lords would have vetoed the bill so violence would not have been necessary.|
Back to top
See also The Gaelic Revival, Is the Irish Nation Dying and Politics, Nationality and Snobs by D.P. Moran.Click here for web links about the Gaelic Revival
Home Rule Bill passed Commons but rejected
| Gladstone called the Irish
question ‘the curse
of this House’.
League’ was founded
aspect of Gaelic culture that
distinguish Irishness from Englishness. There was a Gaelic
for Irish games. Yeats
part of the Irish literary
movement was largely middle-class and a certain Irish
Some political nationalists took part in the movement in the awareness
might one day achieve political force. The League was factionalised,
of its Protestant leaders (including ‘George
Birmingham’) were forced out of
main impact of the Irish-Ireland movement was the training and ideology
to a small knot of enthusiasts. Militant labour
Trades Union Congress formed.
was widened, making possible nationalist control of local
Irish League was formed.
Ireland and was greeted with enthusiasm by the crowds,
although nationalists such as Maud Gonne were infuriated.
Redmond reunited the Irish
Party. Parliamentary selection was
(de-centralised). The United Irish League became its chief instrument.
Irish-Ireland bodies and nationalist fraternities got involved.
conflict intensified, resulting in the Catholic Ancient
becoming the Party’s vehicle for popular mobilisation. The
vagueness of ‘Home
Rule’ attracted groups with disparate aims.
Purchase Act (Wyndham’s
Act) became law, aimed
landlords to sell land and allow tenants
to buy it at low prices. Security of tenure prevented the consolidation
uneconomic farms, increased indebtedness and discouraged innovation.
Féin was formed
Griffith, an ex-Fenian, in order to exploit
local authorities (ignoring other state institutions) rather than seek
revolution or legislative reform. Before the First World War
failed to win any seats. Griffith,
contributor to the
United Irishmen and Sinn
setting up of an Irish Parliament.
Unionist Council was formed.
won the election
with a big majority, leaving them no motive to offer
Home Rule to Irish Party.
|1906 – 10||The United
Irish League targeted graziers
Birrell acted as Chief Secretary.
He carried out wide reforms and
state funding to Ireland.
Féin lost a by-election and it lacked
support until 1917.
Universities Act gave university
status to Queen’s, Belfast
and colleges under
the Catholic National
University of Ireland.
Pearse, a poet and teacher,
Enda’s school at Rathfarnham
to teach the Irish-Ireland spirit. Many of its pupils were
Land Purchase Act. These
Acts made the national question seem
Transport and General Workers’ Union was formed,
led by Jim
Larkin and James
|1910||The Irish Party
held the balance between Liberals
depended on the Irish
Parliamentary Party to retain power.
O’Brien formed the anti-sectarian All-For-Ireland
win over Protestant
support. The Home Rule Party disguised its internal conflicts in order
present itself as representative of
Clarke, who had been imprisoned for
Back to top
Lords were denied
their veto and the Third
Home Rule Bill passed
of the Ulster Unionist Council, Sir Edward
of 50,000 Orangemen and Unionists, saying that if Home Rule
pass they must set
up their own government in Ulster.
Insurance Act. Employers, workers and the state were to
sickness and unemployment benefits.
this year, 25%
of 50 year olds had never married.
introduced a Government of Ireland bill against intense opposition from
unionists. It allowed for Home Rule and did not permit control of the
for six years. In the face of marching and drilling by Unionists in
Ulster, the alternative of having an exemption for Ulster emerged.
Both the Irish
Party and the Unionists discussed this in private. Partition
April). 100, 000 men marched at Balmoral,
front of a giant Union
Law, head of the English Conservatives, pledged assistance
|(28th Sept). Nearly
half a million Protestants
Covenant in opposition
to the Home Rule Bill. It was believed that many people had signed in blood,
although the only provable instance of this was Major
Fred Crawford. They accepted they that
couldn't block Home Rule for most of Ireland, but they wanted to retain
Ulster within the Union. The minimum
demand included the exclusion of six
An Ulster Volunteer Force of 100,000 men was formed through the Orange Lodges. A former English General of the Indian Army took charge of it; there was no doubt on whose side the English Establishment was. The police assisted them to import arms. Liberal nerve began to fail. Asquith looked at the exclusion of the Ulster counties as a compromise. The Irish Nationalist Party became alarmed, and announced that Ireland was a single unit. Home Rulers in the south flocked to join a counter-movement in to the UVF, the ‘Irish National Volunteers’, which had been formed by IRB members. The majority of Irish Volunteers however were only interested in Home Rule without the Ulster clause.
Transport Union launched
a six-month strike
At this time, the slums
in Dublin were the worst
slum owners and the major employer, William Martin
Murphy, were supporters of
Rule, which implied that this Home Rule was insufficient for the
this year and 1881, a social
revolution had taken place. The British
presence in Ireland came to be
tolerated as a source of material benefit.
was prepared to offer Ulster six years of independence. At the last
made a further concession, dropping the time limit. The Conservatives
Ulster Unionist Council demanded the permanent exclusion of six
Down, Derry, Antrim, Tyrone, north Fermanagh, and north Armagh
– but Tyrone had a
substantial nationalist population.
(March 20th). Fifty-seven officers announced that they would not move against the UVF – this was the ‘Curragh Mutiny’.
|(June) John Redmond
assumed control of the Irish
had been surprised by
the depth of feeling. By this time the UVF
armed, as a result of gun-running.
40,000 rifles were made
More of an effort was made to prevent arms being smuggled in to the
than to the UVF, but in this month they imported some successfully.
civilians were killed on the day the Volunteers received arms at Howth
|Around this time, an
Provisional Government’ was formed.
Meanwhile the Director
of Military Operations at the War Office, Sir
Henry Wilson, opposed
nationalism and intrigued
the government using the army to
– most of the Irish
With the outbreak of war, Home Rule was postponed.
An Amending Bill was
introduced for Ulster. Redmond
encouraged the Volunteers to join the
in the hope of being rewarded with Home Rule. The Volunteers split; the
extremists keeping the name ‘Irish Volunteers’
while the majority, 167,000,
became the ‘Nationalist Volunteers’. Many
nationalists offered to serve in the war to prove their
and conciliate the unionists. However, they weren’t allowed
divisions, while the Unionists
were plans, with American support, to get Irish POWs from Germany and
German arms to Ireland. In October,
for Germany via the United States in order to recruit the
Germans as allies. However, military recruitment and prosperity
strengthened Irish ties to Britain. Despite popular contempt, a small
of activists continued to plot revolt. This was the Irish Republican
Irish administration used ridicule
rather than coercion
to undermine the conspiracy. Dublin Castle acted as a caretaker
pending Home Rule. Birrell’s relations with the Unionists
were less good.
Irish Trades Union Congress nominally converted into a Labour Party.
difficult when Catholics and Protestants formed conflicting
trades unionists were also attached to British-based bodies. Most
allegiance to nationalist or unionist bodies. Militant
was grossly inflated by Connolly’s
involvement in 1916.
|By this year, the Home Rule party was huge. It was respected by the church and the Liberals.|
Back to top
Click here for web links about the Easter Rising
O’Donovan Rossa. His body was returned to Ireland
by neo-Fenians and
given a great funeral
to awaken public memories of the Fenians. Pearse
have left us our Fenian dead’. Few would
have viewed this as
anything more than a celebration of a historic patriot; even the
Volunteers didn’t know what was planned.
of the Gaelic
Hyde was forced out by Fenians. Fenians
controlled the GAA.
this year, the Irish made up 3.7% of total recruitment in the UK, a low
because of the high agricultural population. Conscription was never
in Ireland. Protestants were overrepresented amongst volunteers,
because of the
recruitment of unemployed Ulster workers. At home, unemployment
farmers profited, the proletariat had to endure inflation.
17th). The minority Volunteers
and the Irish
Citizen Army paraded
plan for the Rising
was to take over strong-points in Dublin centre in
command the site of army barracks and approach routes into the city.
being shipped from Germany,
accompanied by Sir
Roger Casement, former British
Consulate figure and Irish
Nationalist. He was immediately arrested (April 21st).
MacNeill, head of the Irish Volunteers
and co-founder of the Gaelic
not in favour of armed action except in defence and had not been told
last moment about the rebellion.
He was appalled, but reluctantly
first; when the arms ship was intercepted, he attempted to cancel the
rebellions with a newspaper notice. MacNeill
cancelled exercises of the
(nationalist) Irish Volunteers and rebellion seemed inconceivable.
rebels went ahead despite the certainty of defeat, believing bloodshed
and a sanctifying thing’. Connolly
but the number who turned out (1,000, later joined by 800) was lower
would have been. The British had discovered that a rebellion was on the
and issued orders to disarm the Volunteers and Citizen Army and arrest
leaders. After MacNeill’s newspaper announcement, the
authorities postponed the
arrests until after Easter
Monday. But that morning, April
the rebels began to
gather at the rallying points. One group hijacked a tram. Youths
and a women’s organisation, Cumann
na Mban, were amongst
those who gathered at Liberty
Hall. Some of the boys were armed only with pikes. Some of
involved were taken by surprise; they had not expected to be taking
part in a
Post Office was chosen as the Rising’s
The public were
turned out, and Patrick Pearse proclaimed
the Republic. The first
were a party of Lancers, taken wholly by surprise; four were killed. Jacob’s
Biscuit Factory was also taken over, but a jeering crowd
them; one got shot in the leg. The policeman guarding Dublin
Castle was shot
dead, but the Volunteers didn’t
press home the attack. A
group of elderly part
time soldiers were massacred as they marched back unarmed from the
In central Dublin, there was mass
looting by civilians.
2500 British troops in Dublin were not
prepared; many had gone to the
Once they woke up to the threat, the few hundred left in barracks that
sent to secure the Castle and reinforcements were called for. The
Dublin was cordoned off. A well-known
pacifist writer, Sheehy
Skeffington, was arrested
alongside two civilians and executed
day saw the heaviest fighting. Arriving British troops were showered
of food and drinks from friendly Irish women. One column of the Sherwood
Foresters were shot
at by snipers from a house at Mount
Street Bridge. British
casualties there amounted to more than half the casualties of
Rising. In Dublin, troops faced sniping and barricades. They killed
civilians in their houses. Some rebel garrisons saw little action; most
rebels’ time was spent listening to rumours. There was
temporary elation when
they believed the Germans
had landed, and there were rumours of a
uprising, although very little happened outside Dublin. The British
cars and slowly tightening the cordon round the rebels. Heavy
artillery fire pounded the city centre. By Friday evening the Post
uncontrollably on fire. The rebels
were forced to flee it. Pearse, Connolly
broke into houses to form new headquarters, while Michael
who had originally opposed the Rising, but as a founder of the
obliged to join in – made a counter-charge and was killed.
because he was appalled by the slaughter of civilians. The garrisons
reluctantly to surrender. Eamon
de Valera, a little-known maths
been leading the garrison at Boland’s
Mill. Many prisoners
were taken to open
ground outside Rotunda
Hospital, where they were rudely treated by a
Captain, Lee Wilson, who was consequently
murdered by the IRA in 1920.
prisoners were marched through the streets, they were abused
and needed the protection of their escorts. The boy prisoners were
leniently and sent home. In fact, only a small number were court-martialled;
the majority were interned in Britain.
included 318 civilians, 60 rebels and 130 British troops. 2217 people
were injured. The rebellion
lasted nearly a week. Despite popular contempt, people looked back on
history of Irish rebellion and began to feel
Clarke and a poet, Thomas
MacDonagh, were executed. If these had been
executions, matters might have been different, but they carried
Home Rule Party condemned both the Rising
and the executions. As the executions
continued, public sympathy turned towards the rebels, as some had
Connolly was the last
sitting in a chair because
wounded. The newspapers and public called it the Sinn
nothing was known of the real organisers. Pearse had seen the rebellion
almost Christ-like blood sacrifice; Easter was chosen for a reason. Tom
said they had struck the first blow
for Ireland’s freedom.
location of the buildings taken (parks, factories, public buildings and
GPO) served for maximum casualties and were difficult to defend.
response was fury and disgust. However, Asquith’s
was martial law, and 3500 people were arrested. This overreaction was a
of the war
– dissidents became traitors. Although it
didn’t last long, the
effect on public opinion was severe. Jailed republicans
learnt Irish and played Gaelic games. A cult of veneration for the
developed. Asquith gave Lloyd
George the task of putting through an
Rule settlement. Lloyd George almost managed to negotiate a
under which six Ulster counties would be excluded until the end of the
nationalists and unionists accepted this, but it was sabotaged by
unionist magnates. The Irish Party were execrated for acquiescing in
‘partition’. The rebels themselves wanted more
bloodshed to bring on more
repression and inflame popular spirit. Eamon
de Valera encouraged mass
political participation in republicanism and argued against another
had been working
for the Post Office in London.
As a member
of the IRB
he returned to Ireland to
participate in the Rising. Afterwards he was interned
Wales. There, he set up an
IRB network and organised classes, some in guerrilla warfare. He
information about friendly members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and
contacts from all over Ireland. A skeleton network of Volunteers had
under bogus branches of the Gaelic League,
and when the British
internees at Christmas as a gesture of goodwill, they were able to take
this network. Their first task was to work on public opinion. There was
growing sympathy after the executions and the failure of the government
implement Home Rule without excluding Ulster.
|1917 – 1919||The
rebels’ plan was to get popular support for republicanism in
order to win
American backing for Irish representation at the peace conference.
contests were to be used to demonstrate republican popularity, although
candidates would ‘abstain’ from taking up their
seats. They had most success
Party under John
Redmond and John Dillon
formed a group with the non-violent
Féin of Arthur
Griffith and put up the father
of Rising martyr Joseph
Plunkett in a
by-election, to a resounding victory. Then, using his effective
machine, he scored another victory. Public mood was changing; when the
political prisoners were released in July, they were greeted as heroes.
de Valera was one of these, and Collin’s
by new support
from the church, got him elected. De Valera became the leader of the
new Sinn Féin. They demanded a Republic, but how
they would go about
There was talk of appealing to the International Peace Conference or
| (Sept). A Volunteer
organised a grandiose military funeral.
Until this month there was no unified nationalist party. Sinn
100,000 members. The republican elite regrouped itself into the IRB,
volunteers and the Cumann
na mBan for women. Michael Collins, a London
came to lead the IRB.
The Volunteers exuded menace, claiming political
in prisons, ‘protecting’ republican politicians and
drilling in public.
constitutional nationalists remained loyal to Redmond because they
violence and were put off by the imprecision of Sinn
a Sinn Féin candidate in a by-election in which he wore the
the British government began to consider conscription,
the nationalists resisted
with vast meetings and an anti-conscription
pledge. Plans for
Féin leaders were arrested
after the British believed they were
with the Germans; Collins,
who had caught advanced wind of this,
and consequently had more power over the movement.
April). The various republican parties met and won the
support of the Catholic
church in opposing conscription. Peaceful protest followed,
plans for ‘ruthless warfare’. However, the draft
was avoided, and consequently
support for the republican parties grew. The case for direct military
now, the election register had trebled
since 1910. The Parliamentary
Party was struggling
and losing members to Sinn
Féin. Meanwhile, their core
Irish soldiers in the British army - never received ballot papers. Sinn
were aided both by the vagueness of their agenda and by vote-rigging.
denounced violence during the election. Consequently, they won
the 1918 election
gaining nearly three quarters of seats or 48% of the
vote. Unionists obtained 29% and constitutionalists 23%. Many
were still in jail. The rest met as the Dáil
Eireann, the Irish
declared a Republic. The British let them, calling their bluff. The
nationalists’ hopes rested with America; but in fact Woodrow
Wilson had no
desire to quarrel with Lloyd
unionist-dominated post-war coalition did not follow up Asquith’s
promise of Home
|1918-20||Class conflict became a problem. Low unemployment was a boost for collective action, and there were strikes everywhere.|
Back to top
Click here for web links about the War of Independence
Young Volunteers Dan
Breen and Sean
two police men without
orders from anyone at Tipperary.
Soon afterwards, Collins
to Sinn Féin that fighting
and disorder were required. He was efficient and
in pursuing this. He selected fourteen Irish police to be murdered. The
reacted by bringing in strict military regimes.
led a double life, as Minister of Finance in the Dail,
but also a
of the Volunteers, soon renamed the IRA.
Collins was both charming and
enthusiastic, and ruthless
– he never gave anyone a second
being ‘on the run’ from late 1919, he appeared on
his bike in Dublin and once
had himself smuggled into a police station to get details on detectives
involved in political work. These detectives were warned to change job
murdered if they did not.
of a hearing at the peace conference dissipated, so republican policy
shifted towards mobilising the Irish abroad to support them. De Valera
went to New
York as ‘president of the Irish Republic’
although welcomed by the people he failed to get official recognition
Protestants split over Partition. Southern unionists tried to
Catholic majority. An Irish Unionist Anti-Partition
League was set up.
Meanwhile the Ulster Unionist party fought for Protestant
Ulster’s right to
year saw 18 deaths. Most activity was arson, intimidation and
Increasingly brutal repression forced armed Volunteers to band together
English came over, dressed
in khaki because
of a lack of uniforms, giving them the nickname ‘Black
Tans’. Soon after,
the RIC was also to incorporate the Auxiliaries, English former
for their courage and aggressiveness.
reprisals against rebels included beatings, murders, the wreckage of
mass damage of property. Reprisals were always more vicious
provoking them. Popular outrage was increased by the suspicion of
involvement. In Ulster,
the Catholics were menaced by the Protestant
The British government put forward a Home Rule bill for two parliaments
Belfast and Dublin, but this was too late. The bill became the Government
Ireland Act 1920, but the British ‘Southern
Parliament’ was shunned in favour
of the all-Ireland Dail. The Ulster Unionist Council accepted
the new Castle administration continued to contemplate dominion Home
all of Ireland. Southern Ireland was to become a Crown colony if its
was not functioning by July 1921. Killings and outrages ceased. The
reorganised themselves into the IRA. Lloyd George met de Valera and
Ireland dominion status, not Home Rule, while de Valera offered to be
externally associated with the Commonwealth.
March). The Mayor
of Cork was murdered
by a gang of disguised
police from the RIC,
was revived, concentrated in the six counties in the north.
There were riots
in Derry. Over the next two years, 400 people were to die in
conflicts in the North, twice as many Catholics as Protestants. The B
were often responsible, with the IRA unable to confront them
|Later in the year, guerrilla warfare reigned between the Tans and Auxies and the IRA. Collins had calculated that the toughness of the Tans and Auxiliaries would drive the Irish people towards the idea of a Republic. The IRA were also brutal, but if forced to choose a side the Irish would choose them. The IRA murdered police and civilian informers, dug holes in roads, destroyed bridges and messed up communications. When caught by the Tans, they were brutally interrogated. Reprisals were harsh. The police promised to shot two Sinn Féiners for every man on their side shot. They burnt houses and creameries to punish civilians. The Irish people began to see this as a war between England and Ireland. The army were still respected but the Tans were not.|
of Order in Ireland Act brought massive internment. In
the Volunteers carried out ambushes in Munster. Many organisers were
demoralised by this descent into violence.
Dublin, suspects were rounded up, areas were cordoned off and gun
raged. Sean Tracey, one of the original police-killers, was killed. Terence
of Cork, died
strike. His funeral attracted
international attention. An 18-year-old IRA man, Kevin
despite massive protests that he was a prisoner of
war. 24 IRA men were executed
Lloyd George said ‘we have murder by the throat!’
Sunday. Collins had 14 undercover
intelligence officers murdered
afternoon during a Dublin-Tipperary football
match at Croke Park, British
into the grounds, killing 12 people. Further, two senior
and an innocent Sinn Féin supporter were killed at Dublin
was a mass political demonstration which Collins attended despite being
most wanted man in Ireland.
Largest reprisal by Crown Forces – the burning
centre after an ambush
led by Tom Barry, which claimed seventeen Auxiliary
casualties. It was extreme enough to cause
and disgust in England. Pressure mounted for a settlement.
now, 11 million acres had changed hands under the Land
unemployment exceeded its pre-war proportions, wages fell and trade
declined, and ‘soviets’
were set up. Workers unions
were still divided along
Catholic and Protestant lines. In this year, Catholic workers were
expelled from shipyards and factories.
local government, the police and courts were breaking down, and local
republican organisers set up their own parallel organisations. Lloyd
later said that the Irish Republican Organisation had all the realities
year (1920) saw 282 deaths plus another 82 in Ulster.
The IRA burned
the Dublin Custom
House, the key centre of British
120 IRA men were arrested; it was their biggest disaster.
the IRA were
still well-organised in the countryside but they were low on ammunition
lost their Dublin wing.
in Northern Ireland. Transfer
of powers initiated. Sinn Féin
in the southern elections.
July). De Valera and other Sinn Féin and IRA
and two days later a truce
was signed. De Valera, who was determined to
Republic (possibly with ‘external
the British Empire) and the
less dogmatic Arthur
Griffith went to London.
Treaty between Lloyd
George and Michael Collins
(Griffith also present). It
Ireland into the Free State and the remaining six counties,
Northern Ireland had its own devolved Parliament but its sovereign was
at Westminster. The Free State had dominion status within the
they’d have their own army and navy but had to swear loyalty
the King. This
wasn’t a neat solution – the most northern part of
Head, was in
the South. Collins said he’d signed his death
had represented ‘Ireland’, not Ireland excluding
The Treaty technically
gave the Irish Free State power over
whole of Ireland, although
this was suspended a month later. Northern
Ireland opted out of the
Irish Free State. The
Treaty stipulated that a Boundary
Commission would set up a border
north and south in tune with the wishes of their inhabitants. Collins
this would put Tyrone and Fermanagh in the Free State, and the
counties would not be viable. At the time, the oath
to the King seemed
important. Collins argued that it was a mere symbol that could later be
Ireland, which already had a functioning parliament and rapidly
repudiated the agreement. The south asserted their ‘supreme
Northern Ireland, and most southerners were confident that Northern
Ireland could not survive
supplied arms to Catholics and sought to destabilise the
people were relieved that the last two and a half years of violence had
the IRA split over it. Collins promoted his own stance through the IRB,
he still controlled. De Valera meanwhile opposed the Treaty. He had
Dublin, preparing to use his political skills to deal with the backlash
to the Treaty;
but the Treaty was signed
without his permission. He therefore
dissociated himself from it. The Dail ratified the Treaty by a small
|This year saw 1086 deaths. Nearly half the victims were soldiers and policemen.|
Back to top
|1922-24||During the period of the Civil
twelve thousand opponents of the Treaty were to be interned. Civil
liberties were restricted more in the Free State than in the North at
the beginning of this year Ireland was under the control of the Provisional
Government, which shared its authority with the Second
Dáil. They had no worthwhile army, police
local military leaders in Cork, Tipperary and Dublin wanted to continue
struggle. The IRB
was too fragmented for the state to use it.
IRA occupied the Four
O’Connor and Liam Mellows,
Republican leaders, were involved, and also paramilitaries like Liam
Barry and Ernie
Craig, Prime Minister of Northern
Ireland, saw the Boundary
Commission as a threat
refused to recognise it. He was an Orangeman first and a politician
second, once describing Northern Ireland as ‘a
Protestant Parliament and a Protestant State’. Northern Protestants, afraid that
Commission would undermine them, rioted and many Catholics were killed.
first six months there were 264 dead, two thirds of them Catholics.
fled south. The A
& B Specials, paramilitary police, asserted the law
with its ‘B Special’
reserves marched under the Union
Jack wearing war medals and were referred to as
‘Ulster’s Guardians of Peace’.
The enemy was clear; the IRA, who were fighting against the Treaty in
and also causing trouble in the North. After the riots, the IRA had
permanent menace. A Civil Authorities (Special Powers)
Act was passed
could punish possessing a firearm with death. It
provided the basis for coercion until 1972.
Catholic minority refused
to co-operate with the new state. Catholic school managers
refused state grants
and nationalist politicians would not take seats in Parliament. There
always the sense that Catholic Nationalists wanted to abolish the state.
government in the North came to rely on Protestant fraternities like
Order. Meanwhile the Catholics were not entering the new
like the RUC.
What with both northern nationalists and republicans
parliament, it was simple for unionists to gerrymander
proportional representation. PR had been introduced
as part of the Government
of Ireland Act. The Act had also forbidden
discrimination and given power to Westminster over Stormont, but these
were not observed. Over the next 50
years, the British were to be indifferent to
allowed it to continue as it wanted.
Valera and Collins
had attempted to stop voters overwhelmingly
allied himself with Churchill
and advised people to
against anti-Treaty Sinn Féiners. Consequently support for
increased, while republicans abstained from the provisional
Election gave a pro-Treaty majority. Many
Irishmen who had been in the British army
now joined the Free
State army, making the anti-Treaty side view the
whole affair as continued British rule. Collins
himself was miserable.
(22nd June). The security advisor of Northern Ireland, Sir Henry Wilson, was murdered by IRA members Joe O'Sullivan and Reggie Dunne. Collins had ordered the killers to do the deed before the truce, and he now campaigned to save them from the death sentence. The British government assumed that the order to murder Wilson had come from the Four Courts, and they demanded that Collins take action or lose the Treaty.
a few days, Collins, provoked by the kidnapping of one of his own
generals, J.J. O'Connell, shelled
the Four Courts. Churchill
had provided him with arms and
recapture the Four Courts from the dissident army council. Other
republicans took over other buildings on the street, and the Irish
began. The fighting
lasted eight days on O’Connell
particularly in the south and west, the anti-Treaty IRA were strong.
They held Cork.
Aided by the British both in guns and soldiers, Collins pressed
action against his former comrades. The anti-Treaty IRA could
Collins in an ambush.
Some nationalists who had
supported him fervently the year before now rejoiced at his death.
began to resort to ‘irregular’
methods such as bank
bridges and individual killings.
State leadership passed to William
Cosgrave, a veteran of 1916. His
were all committed nationalists. An Emergency Powers Bill was
would allow the shooting of any republicans taken in arms. 27 people
executed during the next 7 months.
Nov). Republican Erskine
Childers was shot
for possessing a small
revolver Collins had given him. The anti-Treaty Republican Command
decreed that any
Dail member who had voted for the Emergency Powers Bill could be
shot on sight.
Four of their leaders were then shot without trial.
|Seventy-seven untried prisoners
Thirty-four more Republicans were executed.
The bodies of those executed were
not admitted to
any churches, and wakes had to take place in theatres.
Valera, who had assumed more significance now the military
collapsed, told the IRA (the 'Legion
of the Rearguard') to dump arms. By
this time 800 troops and
thousands of ‘irregulars’ and civilians had been
killed. Irish nationalists
were bitterly split. There were 13,000 Republicans in jail,
many on hunger
Valera refused to take the oath which would have allowed his
to sit in the Dail, leaving the Free State able to concentrate on
its position. The issue of partition subsided.
at this time, 30% of the vote went to the Republicans, but
would not take their seats in the Dail. De Valera was imprisoned
for a year, continuing afterwards to
campaign for a Republic.
conflict had been avoided because Protestants were less than 10% of the
population; the Cumann
na nGaedheal administration came to rely on
support and the constitution
avoided mentioning the Catholic church.
Éireann’ chamber was designed to
represent minority interests.
Protestant bankers and businessmen helped to guide the economy.
British attempted to set up the Boundary
Commission, despite the
resistance of Northern Irish
Craig. They had to appoint their own Ulster representative. Eoin
of the Gaelic League represented the Free State. Due to his lack of
campaigning, a simple border was set; some parts of NI that would
joined the South, including large areas of Tyrone and Fermanagh, were
by the North, while some southern areas that would have wished to join
North like Easter Donegal and North Monaghan were kept within the Free
The Free State accepted
the new border arrangement.
Consequently, the Ulster
Protestant attitude hardened further. They had seen the Free State
violence. Free State Minister for Home Affairs Kevin
O’Higgins called the Civil
indignities than the British had practised on us
The goals of the IRA campaign 1920-21 were a united and independent
but neither was achieved. With the Irish people accepting the new
IRA was irrelevant, ‘sad and bitter’ until 1969.
They were reduced to
destroying symbols of British Imperialism and disrupting armistice day
They later demolished a statue
of William III on College Green.
|Nationalist politicians in Northern Ireland consented to take seats in Parliament.|
Back to top
Rise of Fianna Fáil
Valera founded Fianna
from the ashes of Sinn Féin.
The Republicans had split into violent and non-violent factions. De
believed their purposes could be achieved through democracy.
old Civil War Republican Executive (the IRA)
attacked twelve police
two Civic Guards. Some IRA leaders were trying to give the movement a
outlook, but its members were too focused on the
goal of the Republic. One group, when ordered to support a bus strike,
a bus. Some IRA fought
in Spain on the Republican side to try and
their contemporary relevance.
almost as many seats
party but refused
to sit in the Dáil; this lost them votes. De
Valera went to the Dáil but refused to
oath; rejected, he went out and gave a speech to the crowd.
by the IRA. The
government introduced a severe Public
Safety Act and Electoral
Amendment Bill which would force all
candidates to take the oath. This time de
Valera complied, although he
the Bible from the table first. At last there were two parties in the Dáil.
Cosgrave government, Cumann
na Gaedheal, was becoming unpopular as it
so long in power. Fianna Fáil began to seem more accepting
of the IRA.
members made positive comments about the Republic, describing
‘slightly constitutional, but before anything
Republican’. The Cosgrave
government viewed the IRA as heinous and set up a military tribunal
with it. It accused Fianna Fáil of being anti-Catholic
|1932||Fianna Fáil electoral
victory. By this time, Fianna Fáil and the IRA were
tandem. The IRA’s intimidatory
tactics and vote-rigging
helped Fianna Fáil in
their narrow victory. When
elected, Fianna Fáil were nervous that Cosgrave’s
remove them by
force. The Commander of the Free State troops was approached to see
would accept Fianna Fáil. He said he would. Fianna
Fáil were the men
1922 had ‘assumed the right to determine for themselves the
will of the people,
regardless of what the people had decided’. Now they set
about altering the
constitution. The oath
was removed; the role of Governor-General
meaningless; and the Land Annuities (payments to the British Exchequer
Purchase Act) were suspended, resulting in an economic
British government. The Republic was brought into being with the
the inclusion of Northern Ireland.
ban on the IRA was lifted,
prisoners who had committed crimes under the orders of the IRA
executive were released,
while those who had acted independently were not. Speeches given on the
of these prisoners made it clear how close
Fianna Fáil and the IRA
Parliament was built at Stormont.
Until it was suspended in 1972,
dominated by Protestant Unionists at four to one over the Catholic
economic and social
problems were less important to the Protestants
security. There were riots
in 1932, but generally despite high
state security came before all else. The state tended to appease its
majority by favouring them in jobs and housing.
in which IRA intimidation was less necessary. Fianna Fáil won
comfortable majority, remaining in power for 16 years.
Valera said he wanted Ireland
to be self-supporting
and its language
to be Gaelic. In practice, he was conservative
in social and
outlook and paid little attention to addressing social problems.
continued. Strict literary censorship was in place banning the best
writers and some classics. It wasn’t the kind of State the
would want to join.
In the North, Basil Brooke, who would later become Prime Minister, boasted of not employing Catholics and said Catholics were out to destroy Ulster.
of the IRA who had fought in the Civil
War were awarded military
persuading many republicans of the validity of Fianna Fáil.
group for the police, the Broy
Harriers, recruited from the IRA. The IRA
to recruit openly. They were publicly bearing arms parading and
O’Duffy, Commissioner of the Civic Guard under Cosgrave,
Guard’ to counteract the IRA and its
‘communistic’ elements. O’Duffy
to some extent and his organisation
were known as
The movement petered out, with some members going to fight for France.
of a more sectarian character. De
in the south had
made the Protestants aware of their anxieties.
government in Northern Ireland was carried out by local authorities
This was a disadvantaged
society; income per head was less than 60%
what it was
in Britain. Housing was inadequate.
Valera had asked the IRA to hand in their arms, but they
three vicious IRA killings
which shocked the public, De
made the IRA illegal.
of Eire. This
the Catholic Church as the main
religion, although it wasn’t
‘established’. This was a compromise after great
pressure from the Catholic church; de
Valera was deeply opposed to
the church. Irish nationalism, despite the creed
laid out by Wolfe
Tone, is in
practice tied in with Catholicism. The state was named
sovereignty over the whole island.
only reason Eire was not referred to as a Republic in the constitution
because this would have made the Northern Ireland problem harder to
Crown was now only a ‘symbol
between Britain, Ireland, Canada,
New Zealand etc. The British government accepted this.
gave up rights to Treaty
ports and ended the ‘economic
war’. The loss of these
ports made south-west Britain
during the Second World
seriously affected the Battle
of the Atlantic.
Ireland, 87% of rural houses had no running water. 45% of
the 15 – 25 age range were down to TB.
There was discrimination
Catholics, although the Unionist politicians denied it. Londonderry
worst. Its population was 60% Catholic/Nationalist, but the Corporation
Londonderry was only 40% Catholic/Nationalist. This effect was got by
– concentrating large
numbers of people with majority views in
overlarge electoral districts and their opponents in smaller ones,
minority to win more seats. So 87% of Catholics were in one ward
seats while the Protestants were in two wards with twelve seats, giving
majority. Also in local elections, only resident occupiers –
owners and tenants
of a house – were allowed to vote. This meant that some had
no vote while others
had up to six, depending on the value of their property. On average,
Protestants had more votes per head. The Protestant mayor of
power over allocating houses, and he treated Protestants
were also allocated unfairly.
|1939||There was still some sentimental ambivalence felt by some Fianna Fáil members to the IRA; but after the IRA raided the State’s main ammunition store in Phoenix Park, the government’s attitude hardened and proved as ‘coercionist’ as Cosgrave and the British. The IRA continued their campaign of violence; four were executed in Dublin. These were hard times for the IRA. The radical leftists had abandoned them because of their lack of social policies; the militants split between those who wanted to attack the North and those who wanted to attack the English.|
Back to top
Ireland in the 1940s
|1939||(September 3rd). Britain
declared war on Nazi Germany. The Republic
of Ireland, remaining
neutral, declared an Emergency.
During this year, an IRA bombing campaign hit Britain. Bombs were put in letter boxes and public lavatories, and one in a Coventry street on the 25th of August killed five people. The campaign was organised by Sean Russell. Russell arranged a collaboration with Germany but it was to no advantage for either side. He was to die on a German submarine.
The Germans dropped an agent, Hermann
Ireland. The IRA failed
to offer him effective support, and he was arrested.
war, the IRA’s
Chief of Staff had to take protection from De
Valera’s Civic Guard against
his own organisation.
The Irish people were happy to be neutral and to be confirmed as a separate nation to Britain. No one wanted to see the Germans win, but there was a sense of pleasure when the British met with a reverse. There was a determination to maintain neutrality, although many Irish citizens did actively support Britain in the war. When the British government considered seizing its lost ports by force, the Irish army went on a state of alert.
Valera visited the German Ambassador in Dublin to offer
the war, Churchill and de Valera exchanged hostile radio
Churchill criticised de Valera for ‘frolicking with the
German and later with
the Japanese representatives’. Churchill said it was tempting
and would have
been easy to have invaded Ireland. De Valera’s response was
Britain of turning its necessity into a moral code.
became one of many
countries to benefit from the Marshall
Gael under John
Costello, the inheritors of Cosgrave’s
power. Ireland was declared
a Republic, all
Ireland in theory. No widespread social
those in Britain were introduced, however; Noel
scheme was dropped after pressure from the Church.
|1949||The Republic of Ireland became official. Britain accepted it but guaranteed support for Northern Ireland until the Northern Irish parliament decided differently.|
Back to top
|The 1950s and early 1960s|
(May 12th). Nationalists in the North of Ireland asked the government of the Republic to give Northern–elected representatives seats in the Dáil and Seanad.
|(Aug 11th). In a
|(May 24th) Gardaí
exchanged shots with two men who had
thrown a bomb at the British embassy in
|(June 13th) Eamon
de Valera became
Taoiseach with one of the
smallest majorities on record: 74 – 69.
(May 30th) Minister for Education Seán Moylan announced longer summer holidays for national school children.
– Dec) Taoiseach De
Valera spent three months in an eye
|(March 15th) 10,000 civil
servants marched down
(March 16th) Franklin
(June 3rd) 500
unemployed men marched on
(July 6th) 1,000 unemployed people stayed a 15-minute sit-down protest on O’Connell Bridge.
|(Aug 29th) Kilmainham
Gaol became a national monument.
(Oct 28th) Three of Dáil Éireann’s Independent TDs became members of Fianna Fáil.
|(Dec 18th) The Censorship
publications for being indecent or obscene.
(Jan 11th) The Irish
Council of the European
Movement was formed in
(May 16th) 30,000
|(July 5th) The
Dublin Corporation decided that Nelson’s
(Jan 6th) 1200
people met in
|1956 - 62||The IRA
carried out its Border
died, but Britain remained indifferent. Internment
both the North and the Republic of Ireland. The campaign
ended on 26th
February 1962 due to a lack of support.
(Feb 15th) Senator Owen Sheehy-Skeffington introduced a motion calling for the prohibition of all corporal punishment for girls in Irish national schools.
|(May 1st) The
Minister for Education Richard
introduced the debate on a separate government department for the Gaeltacht.
(Nov 30th) Petrol rationing to be introduced from January 1st due to the Suez Crisis.
(March 3rd) Eamon
de Valera told a crowd in
|(March 7th) Fianna Fáil returned
to power winning 78 seats in the Sixteenth
(March 11th) Prize Bonds were introduced, with the Bank of Ireland operating the scheme on behalf of the Minister of Finance.
(July 22nd) The
|(Aug 7th) A
20-foot high war memorial, commemorating
(March 18th) Eamon de Valera said he would be willing to talk
with the government of
(May 10th) Independent TD John Murphy resigned in protest at the indifference of the main political parties to the plight of the unemployed.
(May 28th) A Greyhound Industry Bill established the Bord na gCon.
(July 28th) The
(Sept 8th) Pan
Am’s Boeing 707 became the
first jetliner to touch down on European soil at
(Oct 29th) The government announced that proportional representation would be put to referendum.
(Jan 23rd) A Pay-As-You-Earn system of income tax was considered.
|(July 29th) The
new Department of
Transport and Power was established.
(Sept 22nd) The Irish Congress of Trade Unions held its
attacking the government of
||(Jan 13th) The
Authority Bill proposed to
establish an authority to provide the new national television service.
Bill passed its last stage on February
(Feb 16th) The
Irish candidate Frederick Henry Boland
received the support
(May 27th) The last
barge on the
(Jan 6th) Lieutenant-General
Mac Eoin left
|(June 10th) Eamon
de Valera and his wife greeted
Rainier and Princess Grace at Áras an Uachtaráin.
(Dec 31st) Teilifís
Éireann went on air as
President de Valera inaugurated the new service. Its first
broadcast was a New
Year countdown with celebrations at the Gresham Hotel and
(March 17th) De
Valera and his wife had a
private audience with Pope John XIII in
(May 8th) Irish
troops left for a peace-keeping
mission in the
|(July 6th) First
airing of the Late
Late Show, compered by Gay
|(July 13th) U Thant,
Secretary General of the United
Nations, arrived in
(Aug 21st) Former
US President Dwight D.
Eisenhower arrived in
|(May 20th) Minister
for Education Dr
schools and regional technical colleges.
|This website tries to represent a range of political views. We do not accept responsibility for the content of external websites.|
O’Neill, an Orangeman,
became Prime Minister of NI.
carried out the
first meeting with the PM of the Dublin government (Sean Lemass)
gestures such as visiting Catholic schools. Reverend Ian
mob orator, led protests against him and formed a Protestant
for Social Justice founded in Belfast.
County Londonderry: a decision was made to form a Civil
the blacks’ rights movement in America. At this time the
Catholic community had
rejected the IRA.
(March 8th). The IRA blew up Nelson's pillar in Dublin.
Ireland Civil Rights Association was founded. The IRA were
involved. The leadership
the NICRA were middle class and middle aged.
Rights marches began, and were banned by William
Craig, Minister for
Oct) A civil
rights march was brutally broken up by the
RUC. O’Neill announced changes
were to be made, but progress
was too slow.
Jan). An offshoot of the Civil Rights Movement, People’s
jobs, houses and ‘one man, one vote’. They were attacked
including uniformed RUC. No attackers were arrested, but eighty
marchers were. Then
stirred trouble (including assault,
damage of property) on Bogside.
pattern was to continue throughout the year.
Healey, British Minister of Defence, objected
Northern Ireland because they
were not sufficiently in touch with Northern Irish internal affairs. Even before the IRA began to take effect, Wilson’s government felt discouraged.
called a General
Election but was forced to resign and was replaced by
well-meaning but ineffectual Orangeman, Major James
the worst ones in Derry
and Belfast that August in
B Special Reserves ferociously attacked Catholics, killing six people
300 houses. British
troops were deployed in Derry and Belfast to save
order from the police. People in the Republic were appalled
Nationalists under attack, and their Prime Minister Jack Lynch said his
government could not ‘stand
idly by’. Arms
sent to the northern Catholics.
Young Catholics began to look
to the IRA for defence, but it was
Recently the IRA
had turned to more social revolutionary paths, but now
became patriotic and republican again. It was irrelevant to them that
Catholics were temporarily
welcoming British troops; to them, the
echoes of 1920-21.
August, the Civil
Rights Movement became Nationalist. The IRA seemed
relevant than the young socialist radicals like Bernadette
were introduced giving one
man one vote. The RUC were disarmed and the B
The IRA split into the Marxist-inclined ‘Officials’
named after the
‘Provisional’ government of Ireland declared in
Northern Ireland, clumsiness
on the part of British
forces soon antagonised the population. The IRA,
were asserting a rigid control over the Catholic areas, turned this
into patriotism. They provided the only leadership available. They
especially in Belfast, hijacked buses and encouraged throwing
grenades at police. Assassinations of RUC
men began. Off-duty RUC men
families were attacked.
people were killed in this year.
(10th Jan). Anti-apartheid demonstrations were held in the Republic.
(April 3rd). Garda Richard Fallon was killed by an organisation known as Saor Éire.
(May 4th). Resignation of Micheál Ó Móráin as a result of the Arms Crisis.
(May 6th). The Arms Crisis escalated in the Republic, with the Taoiseach Jack Lynch asking Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney to resign from the government. They were accused of attemping to import arms for use by the PIRA. The Minister for Local Government Kevin Boland resigned in sympathy.
(May 27th). Captain James Kelly, Albert Luykx and John Kelly were arrested, charged wth conspiracy to import arms.
(May 28th). Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney appeared in Dublin's Bridewell Court charged with conspiracy to import arms, along with Luykx and Capt. Kelly.
(June 25th). Bishops met at Maynooth to lift a ban on Catholics attending Trinity College.
(26th June). Riots broke out over the arrest of Bernadette Devlin. On the same day, the premature explosion of an IRA bomb in a house in Derry led the deaths of two children.
(2nd July). Neil Blaney was cleared on arms conspiracy charges.
(21st August). The Social Democratic and Labour Party formed by Gerry Fitt.
(3rd Oct). Richard Nixon visited Jack Lynch in Dublin. His presence in Ireland was greeted by protests over the Vietnam war.
(23rd Oct). Charles Haughey, James Kelly, Albert Luykx and John Kelly were acquitted in the Arms Conspiracy Trial.
soldiers were murdered.
wanted the B Specials back. Clark resigned
under criticism from the
Unionist Council to be replaced by the Unionist Brian
(3rd April). Eurovision Song Contest held in Dublin.
(11th April). The GAA lifted its ban on members playing 'foreign games' like soccer, rugby and cricket.
(22nd May). Members of the Irish Women's Liberation movement took a train from Belfast to Dublin bringing back contraceptives that were banned from import into the Republic.
Faulkner decided ordinary law could no longer deal with the IRA, and he
without trial. He said they were ‘at
terrorist and in a state of war many sacrifices will be
Around 300 republicans were detained,
more than any at one time since
1921. Few were members
of the Provisional IRA. The IRA wanted people to think they
war, as in 1919-21. Many Catholic nationalists were reluctant to
democracy. Later, 1576 people were to be arrested.
British government believed that the IRA could be contained with force,
they were wrong. The SDLP argued that there could be no military answer
political solution was needed.
(19th Nov). Jack Lynch had talks with Harold Wilson in Dublin.
people were killed in this year. Unionist paramilitaries
people in a
to take revenge on the IRA.
|1972||(22nd Jan). Taoiseach
Jack Lynch and the Minister for External Affairs, Patrick
Hillery, signed the Treaty
of Accession to the European Communities.
(30th Jan). Bloody Sunday. Thirteen civilians were killed by British soldiers in Derry. The Republic of Ireland declared a national day of mourning for the following day; and the day after, 20,000 people attacked the British Embassy in Dublin and burned it down; the Republic of Ireland Foreign Minister declared it his aim to get the British out of Ireland. Direct Rule was consequently declared.
five women and a priest at an Aldershot
barracks, two people in the Abercorn
restaurant and six on a shopping street (Lower Donegall
Street) in revenge for Bloody Sunday.
late as this year in Dungannon, the 50/50 Catholic/Protestant
represented 70/30 in their council;
roughly likewise County Fermanagh.
County Down was even worse
|(19th Feb). The
Committee organised a march along O'Connell Street, Dublin.
(20th March). Edward Heath’s government ended Stormont and took Northern Ireland’s powers of law and order, despite protests from Faulkner and the Unionists. Westminster now ruled directly. Heath saw direct rule as an opportunity to sort out the Northern Ireland problem. How to do this was not clear; he and his government were not familiar with the situation. The common view of his government was that a united Ireland was the only feasible solution, which had to be borne in mind without antagonising the Unionists. This principle had been part of the 1921 Treaty. The leaders of the PIRA, including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, saw the taking of control by the British as a sign that the ‘war’ must go on. Car bombs were used. In one day alone, 30 bombs went off. However, the Catholic minority in the North, and the government of the Republic, welcomed direct rule. It made the Unionists anxious. Over the next twenty years they were to withdraw into traditional attitudes, and the more extreme Unionist groupings such as Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party grew in popularity. At this time, however, the British weren’t aware of this anxiety.
who in Opposition were considering withdrawal from Northern Ireland,
gave it the codename ‘Algeria’.
|(2nd April). Raidió na Gaeltachta
went on the air.
(17th April). The Irish Government launched its European Economic Community Referendum campaign.
(May). Highest death toll yet. Protestant paramilitaries retaliated by attacking Catholics. The British ‘Operation Motorman’ tried to crack down on the IRA but still 476 died in 1972.
(10th May). A referendum was held on Ireland's membership of the EEC. The poll came out almost five to one in favour.
(30th May). The Official IRA declared a ceasefire.
Friday. 26 IRA
nine civilians. The 100th
soldier was killed. On July
31st nine civilians including three children died during
bomb attacks on the village of Claudy.
Catholic priest Father
James Chesney was named in a report in 2010 as having
masterminded those attacks.
(13th Dec). President De Valera signed the documents which ensured Ireland's entry into the EEC.
|1973||(1st Jan). Ireland
joined the European community alongside Britain
(6th Jan). Patrick Hillery was appointed Social Affairs Commissioner in the European Economic Community.
(28th Feb). The National Coalition of Fine Gael and the Labour Party won a general election in the Republic, ending sixteen years of Fianna Fáil government.
(March). A White Paper released which stated that any new arrangements should be acceptable to the Republic of Ireland. The British government had reassured the Unionists that any decision on NI’s status would go with the majority, but this paper alarmed Unionists, as Articles 2 and 3 of the Republic’s Constitution stated that NI was part of ‘the national territory’ whose ‘reintegration’ was ‘pending’. A ‘Council of Ireland’ to represent both North and South was proposed. Such a Council had been part of the Treaty but was abandoned in the 1920s.
Faulkner, PM-in-waiting for the next NI government, was ready in
accept British proposals. At a meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council
he won a
vote against rejecting the White Paper, but it revealed a serious split
party. Some of the losers left the party. William
Craig formed the
party which was related to the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence
Association. The UDA saw itself opposing the White Paper as Carson had opposed
Home Rule in 1914.
(14th March). The new Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave received his seal of office from President Éamon de Valera.
(May). In the presidential election, voters went to the poll to find a successor to President de Valera. Erskine Hamilton Childers was the victor, defeating Tom O'Higgins.
The British introduced a bill to create a Northern
Assembly, and elections
were held this month. ‘Official Unionists’
supported the paper, ‘Unionists’ did
not. Although there was a majority vote for the White Paper, the
generally were against it. The NI Assembly was given Royal Assent as
Ireland Constitution Act 1973. The importance of the majority
Northern Ireland’s future was reiterated. Faulkner now had to
find an executive
widely acceptable to the community.
(24th June). De Valera retired from office at the age of ninety. He was to spend his retirement at Talbot Lodge in Blackrock. Childers was inaugurated as the fourth President of Ireland.
Dec). The British and Irish governments and the
power-sharing executive met at Sunningdale
in Surrey. It was the first such meeting since 1925, and
anniversary of the 1921 Treaty. Britain was distracted by an oil
at the time. Consequently, a new man who knew
little of Ireland, Francis
Pym, became the Northern Ireland Officer. Unionist extremists
like Craig and
were not allowed to participate in the Conference. On the day of the
there was a large meeting of Unionists in Belfast. Although the
itself was successful,
it was clear it couldn’t work given
in power. The Conference
a consultative Assembly for all
30 members from each side. There would also be a 50/50 Council of
with 14 members. Attempts to create a joint police authority failed.
government agreed to reinforce the pledge about the majority
NI, although the clauses in the Irish constitution stating dominion
whole of Ireland remained. To remove them would have required a
which was risky. It appeared the mood was against removing them.
British government’s position was contradictory. They felt a
united Ireland was
desirable but were also stuck to their pledge to the Unionists. They
appreciate the strength
of Unionist opinion. In fact, most Unionists
the idea of a Council of Ireland. Protestant paramilitaries formed an Ulster
Army Council to back all Unionist politicians who opposed the
4th). The Ulster
Unionist Council rejected the Council of Ireland,
forcing Faulkner to resign from the Unionist Party.
held an election to sort out the miners’ strike. In Northern
Ireland the election
The anti-Faulkner unionists won overwhelmingly. But
still had a majority in the Assembly – just not a Unionist
one – and the
Council of Ireland was maintained. A new Unionist grouping, the Ulster
Council, immediately called
youths’ and members of the
Defence Association spread intimidation. This was
because although Protestants were sympathetic, they didn’t
want the cost of a
strike. Electricity blackouts and roadblocks were set up. There was
panic-buying of food and petrol pumps were guarded by the army. A
later, the whole electricity supply was on the brink of failure.
had a new Labour government under Harold
Wilson. It had its own
all Wilson did in support of Faulkner was to condemn
the strikers as spongers.
He was unsure of how
to deal with Northern Ireland (which had 17,000
troops at that time).
the Republic, killing
one day in Dublin and Monaghan.
May). Faulkner resigned because his executive was not
likely to be widely
accepted. The executive and Assembly were dissolved.
Rather than trying
the Wilson government considered complete withdrawal.
There was a temporary
truce with the IRA while this pullout was considered, but it
because of Unionist resistance. His government is often criticised for
forcing an end to the Ulster
Workers’ strike, but this would
humiliation for the majority Unionists. Also, it wasn’t
certain that the
military could have ended the strike – the UDA had a policy
resistance worked out.
(14th June). Anatoli Kaplin, first Soviet Ambassador to Ireland, visited President Childers at Áras an Uachtaráin.
(17th July). The National Coalition's Contraceptive Bill was defeated in a vote in Dáil Éireann. Liam Cosgrave, the Taoiseach, was one of the seven Fine Gael TDs to vote against their own Bill.
(1st Sept). Transition Year was introduced on a pilot basis in three schools.
(21st Sept). Jack Lynch announced that Fianna Fáil would not support any proposal to repeal Articles Two and Three of the Constitution.
(17th Nov). Sudden death of President Childers aged 69.
(10th Dec). Seán MacBride, former Minister for External Affairs, was presented with the Nobel Prize for Peace.
(19th Dec). Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh sworn in as the fifth President of Ireland.
|1975||(30th Jan). Charles
Haughey was brought back to the Fianna Fáil front
(17th April). Mary Immaculate College in Limerick and Our Lady of Mercy College in Carysfort became recognised colleges of the National University of Ireland.
(May). Elections tried to discover the policies that would have most widespread acceptance. The majority were against power-sharing and the Irish dimension. They wanted majority rule, Stormont-style. The government fell back to the military solution. The new Northern Ireland Secretary, Roy Mason, toughened up security and for a while the IRA were weakened.
(18th June). Dr Danny O'Hare became acting director of the National Institute for Higher Education.
(29th Aug). Éamon de Valera died at the age of 92. His wife had passed away on Jan 7th 1975.
(5th Sept). The IRA bombed the Hilton hotel in London, killing two people.
(Oct). The IRA kidnapped Dutch businessman Tiede Herrema, who was eventually rescued unharmed.
Jan). The SARAF,
allegedly a unit of the IRA,
Protestant workmen at Kings
Mill. This was in response to the killings
of six Catholic civilians
(15th March) After an IRA bomb exploded prematurely on a London tube train, the gunman shot dead the tube driver who pursued him.
(18th March). Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave met President Ford at the White House.
(31st March). The IRA carried out the Sallins Train Robbery.
(17th May). Tim Severin set off from Dingle to America in his boat 'Brendan' to trace the route taken by the sixth century monk Brendan.
(29th June). The highest temperature record for the twentieth century was set in Boora at 32.5C.
(21st July). Christopher Ewart-Biggs, the UK ambassador, and a civil servant, Judith Cooke, were killed by an IRA landmine at Sandford, County Dublin.
(23rd Sept). The President, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, consulted with the Council of State for four hours on whether to refer the Emergency Powers legislation to the Supreme Court.
(22nd Oct). The President resigned after being called a 'thundering disgrace' by the Minister for Defence Paddy Donegan.
(3rd Dec). Dr Patrick Hillery was inaugurated as the sixth President of Ireland.
Feb). A crater
on Mercury was named after the Irish poet W. B. Yeats.
(April/May). Roy Mason saw off a strike organised by Paisley. He ignored political conflicts.
(15th June). Fianna Fáil won the general election in the Republic.
(5th July). The 21st Dáil elected Jack Lynch as Taoiseach.
(10th Oct). The founders of the peace movement, Mairéad Corrigan and Betty Williams, won the Nobel Peace Prize.
(18th Jan). The European Court of Human Rights found Britain guilty of 'inhuman and degrading treatment' of republican internees in Northern Ireland.
(19th Jan). The Fianna Fáil government dismissed Garda Commissioner Edmund Garvey without explanation.
(Feb 17th). IRA firebomb killed twelve people at the La Mon restaurant.
(31st March). 6,000 people marched through Dublin to the Wood Quay site to protest the building of civic offices on the Viking site.
(19th Aug). Over 5,000 people took part in a rally against a nuclear power station at Carnsore Point, County Wexford.
(1st Sept). The Dublin Institute of Technology was created on an ad-hoc basis by the City of Dublin VEC.
(2nd Nov). Ireland's second national television channel, RTÉ 2, opened.
Jan). The lowest temperature of the twentieth century was
recorded at Lullymore, County Kildare, at -18.8C.
(8th Jan). Fifty died when an explosion destroyed the French oil tanker Betelgeuse off Whiddy Island.
(9th March). PAYE workers across the country took to the streets in protest against the tax system. On March 20th, a huge anti-PAYE demonstration was held in Dublin.
Violence erupted again. Airey Neave, Thatcher’s friend who was earmarked to become her Northern Ireland Secretary, was murdered by the Irish National Liberation Army on 30th March. Thatcher had her Northern Ireland Secretary organise a constitutional conference to see what progress was possible; he found the situation stuck. The British then turned to the Irish dimension - the Republic’s claim to authority over all Ireland. In the Republic, Fianna Fáil, who regarded the Treaty of 1921 as a betrayal, were in power. The Taoiseach was Charles Haughey, whose father was involved in the IRA during the Civil War. He represented the republican tradition at its most realistic.
(2nd June). Protesters opposed to the building of civic offices at the site of Viking excavations in Wood Quay occupied the area.
(9th Aug). The first group of Vietnamese boat people arrived.
and his family killed
(29th Sept). Pope John Paul II arrived in Ireland for a three day visit. On the first day he appealed to the IRA for peace.
(29th Nov). The Taoiseach Jack Lynch greeted European Economic Community heads of government who had come to Dublin Castle for a summit meeting. On the 5th Dec he announced his resignation as Taoiseach, and was succeeded by Charles Haughey on Dec 11th.
Chalice found at Killenaule.
(April). Ireland won the Eurovision Song Contest.
(Aug). 18 people died in the Buttevant Rail Disaster. In the same month, ten people perished in a fire at the Bundoran Hotel in County Donegal.
(Oct). Mella Carroll became the Republic of Ireland's first female high court judge.
(Nov). 1979 Family Planning Act came into operation.
(Dec). Jack Lynch was given Freedom of the City of Cork.
(Dec). Although Thatcher reassured the Unionists that the Northern Irish majority came first, a meeting at Dublin between her and Haughey appeared to lay guidelines for a closer relationship between North and South in the future.
Hume of the SDLP said that traditional republicanism was
wrong to put
narrow sectional view of Ireland, ignoring differences and advocating
Republicanism should mean unity for all. By this time, nationalism in
and of the majority in the Republic now meant a different thing. In the
it was defensive. In the South it was nostalgic, but unrelated to daily
wanted to direct nationalist opinion that way in the North.
|1981||(Feb 14th). The
fire in Dublin killed 48 people.
(Feb). Paisley organised a military parade and signed an ‘Ulster Declaration’ on the model of the 1912 Ulster Declaration. Most Unionists found the implications of the Dec 1980 conference disturbing. In the local government elections, the DUP achieved more votes than before.
wanted British military and political presence out of Ireland. Unlike
he stressed peaceful means. His approaches to the Unionists cut no ice.
promised ‘no surrender’.
weakness in the IRA’s position was that despite their
violence they hadn’t
driven the British out. The Unionists were determined to hold what they
The SDLP were the most
for the political
status of IRA prisoners. Bobby
Sands was elected for parliament while on his
IRA called them martyrs. There was rioting after every death. The
gained respect for the IRA cause. Thatcher refused to make concessions
and her relationship
deteriorated. Opinion in the South gradually became
supporters of the hunger-strikers
were involved in intimidation and
there was a
sense of impending anarchy. Eventually a demonstration, organised from
North, attacked Irish police around the British
Embassy. This lost the
support. People in the Republic saw the IRA as aliens, imported thugs
(April). Ireland hosted the Eurovision Song Contest.
(May). Lawrence Downey hijacked an Aer Lingus flight in the hope of finding out the third secret of Fatima.
(June). A general election in the Republic of Ireland saw Fianna Fáil's worst performance in twenty years.
pressed by the Falklands
War and the miners’
interest in Ireland.
|(Sept). Jim Prior
became NI Secretary. Paisley blamed him for IRA deaths. MP Robert
Bradford was killed. In such a climate it was hard to be
Thatcher made a speech saying Northern Ireland was as much a part of
the UK as her own
constituency. Prior worked on an idea for a new elected Assembly that
develop executive powers at its own pace.
McCreevy was expelled from Fianna Fáil.
(Feb). Corporal punishment was banned in Irish schools.
(May). The Republic of Ireland affirmed its neutrality in the Falklands Conflict and opposed European sanctions against Argentina.
On May 24th, 20,000 people marched against income tax and PRSI changes.
|(July). Bill to set
up an elected Assembly
|(20th July). IRA killed
and civilians in London
(Aug). Malcolm MacArthur murdered two people, forcing the resignation of Attorney General Patrick Connolly whose house guest he was.
for Assembly. Provisional
Sinn Féin won 5 of 78 seats. However, the Assembly
budge from preconceived
positions. The majority of Unionists wouldn’t discuss
power-sharing and the
SDLP wouldn’t sit down with them. The Irish dimension
wasn’t considered; in the meantime, relations between
Thatcher and Haughey had chilled after Ireland
neutral over the Falklands.
In the Republic, Charles Haughey survived a vote of no confidence by Charlie McCreevy.
(Nov). General Election. Garret Fitzgerald of Fine Gael became the Taoiseach. He wanted to see a united Ireland but recognised Protestant fears. He was more moderate than Haughey.
|(6th Dec). INLA
17 people at the Droppin' Well disco and bar.
government bugging scandal forced the resignation of Ray
(Feb) The racehorse Shergar was kidnapped and eventually killed by the IRA.
A motion to remove Charles Haughey from power failed after a twelve hour meeting by Fianna Fáil.
A general election in the Republic saw victory for Fianna Fáil.
(June) Gerry Adams won West Belfast from the SDLP.
(Sept). Thirty-eight prisoners escaped from Long Kesh prison.
A referendum in the Republic led to the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, concerning abortion. This was to prevent abortion, which was already illegal, from being legalised.
(Nov). Businessman Don Tidey kidnapped by the IRA. He was rescued three weeks later.
(Dec). Patrick Hillery was elected unopposed in the Irish Presidential election.
15-year-old girl, Ann Lovett,
died after giving birth in a religious grotto.
(March). Gerry Adams shot and wounded in Belfast.
(May). The final report of the Dublin forum, which had run for more than a year, came out. Its aim was to ‘abandon rhetoric’. However, it was crippled by the absence of traditional Unionists. The report blamed Britain for partition and ‘refusing to accept the democratically expressed wishes of the Irish people’ (in 1918). It proposed a united Ireland by consent, or a federal state, or a joint authority for NI. Thatcher rejected this. Even so, the climate was still set for negotiation.
(June). A visit to Ireland by US President Ronald Reagon was met by protests in Dublin.
European parliamentary elections were held.
(12th Oct). The IRA bombed a hotel in Brighton where the British cabinet were staying, killing five people.
|1985||(26th Feb). Desmond
O'Malley was expelled from Fianna Fáil.
(28th Feb). IRA killed nine RUC officers at Newry.
Sinn Féin, who still acknowledged their ties to violence, gained more than 10% of seats in district council elections. The Government were concerned that they would become more powerful. The republican vote in NI was nearly 30%. Government attention turned to the Irish dimension.
(July). Ballinspittle became a place of pilgrimage after two women claim to have seen a statue of the Virgin Mary move.
Agreement at Hillsborough Castle. It established
of involvement of the Republic in Northern Ireland. The consent of the
Northern Irish majority would be
needed for change. In the meantime, an Intergovernmental Conference was
to deal with Northern Ireland and British/Irish relations. Eventual
devolved government was
aim. Even moderate Unionists felt betrayed. All 15 Unionist
resigned from Parliament and fought by-elections with the slogan
No’. They gained 400,000 votes. The Belfast
the Agreement a
‘recipe for bloodshed’, and there were attacks and
riots by Unionists.
Mary Harney was expelled from Fianna Fáil for supporting the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
First meeting of the Anglo-Irish Conference at Stormont saw riots.
Progressive Democrats founded by Desmond O'Malley.
Day of Action. Roads were blocked and the
Loyalists assaulted the RUC when they halted a banned Apprentice
Portadown, and the RUC accidentally killed a Protestant. The homes of
members were fire-bombed. Some Unionist MPs were appearing at menacing
shows of strength with masked men carrying cudgels.
(June). Referendum on removing the prohibition on divorce returned a no vote.
(Dec). Sharp rise in Visa applications for emigration to America noted in the Republic.
election in Ireland brought Fianna Fáil back in as
a minority government.
Molyneaux’s Official Unionists presented a petition to the Queen with 400,000 signatures asking for a referendum on the Agreement. 200,000 people had attended a protest on the Agreement’s first anniversary, and there was looting.
paramilitary groups became more radicalised and over the
as active as the IRA. Despite all this, the Intergovernmental
continued. The Unionists had to realise that they could only remove it
(March). Irish National Lottery launched.
|(8th May). British killed
eight IRA and one
civilian at Loughgall.
(9th May). Johnny Logan won Eurovision with 'Hold Me Now'.
(26th May). A referendum approved the Single European Act.
(1st Nov). Libyan arms bound for the IRA were seized.
(8th Nov). IRA bomb killed eleven civilians at a memorial service in Enniskillen.
March). Three IRA
who had allegedly
been planning to bomb a
military ceremony were killed
by the SAS.
of Rock of
Gibraltar IRA, killing three people. The IRA
British soldiers who strayed
into the funeral
(19th March). Major anti-Apartheid demonstration in Dublin. Nelson Mandela was awarded the freedom of Dublin in July.
May). Loyalists murdered three
Catholics in the Avenue Bar.
(June). IRA attacked British soldiers who had just taken part in the Lisburn Marathon, killing six.
|(11th Aug). Sharp
rise in AIDs cases induces the Department of Health to launch an
(30th Aug). Eight soldiers killed by the IRA in Tyrone.
Official Unionists made contact with the government, and talks took
the new NI Secretary Peter Brooke.
Brooke suggested that Sinn Féin
the talks if it renounced support for the IRA. Brooke was the first NI
Secretary to admit that the IRA couldn’t be defeated by
military means and another
approach was needed.
Hume (SDLP) and Gerry
Adams (Sinn Féin) made contact. Hume aimed to
Adams away from Republican violence. Adams modelled himself on the
State republicans of the Civil
War. Having long advocated violence, he
have found it tricky to persuade his supporters otherwise. However at
time, all parties save the the DUP
were considering eventual compromise.
number of conflict deaths
were down but a higher proportion of
were being killed, most by Loyalists.
government were under
pressure to sort
the problem out. The Irish government
weren’t too anxious to
press their claim, despite their rhetoric. The reality was that a new,
26-county nationalism had emerged in the Republic. This included
little else for the North nationalists. In the North, nationalism meant
defensiveness against the Protestants. Their need to remove the British
irrelevant to people in the Republic, especially with the
Conference in place. The major concession they were likely to be
make was to amend Articles
2 and 3 of the Constitution which laid claim
to Northern Ireland.
Many, such as Fitzgerald, considered a referendum on this. Meanwhile
Unionists were technically the most secure, but their fears caused by
minority on the island made them intransigent. The events of 1912- 20
haunted them, and the actions of the IRA strengthened their resolve.
extremely sensitive to the ‘Irish dimension’.
Brooke’s negotiations with
Molyneaux’s Unionists came to little, but at least they were
flexible on cross-border
harmonization regarding matters like tourism, and they were prepared to
a power-sharing assembly.
Feb). Belfast lawyer Pat
Finucane was shot
dead by Loyalists. British
has been suspected.
(March). Three Irish soldiers with the United Nations were killed in South Lebanon.
(June). General election in Ireland. Fianna Fáil formed a coalition with the young Progressive Democrats party.
(22nd Sept). The IRA bombed a recreational centre at Deal Barracks in Kent, killing eleven people.
(24th Oct).Patsy Gillespie was forced to act as a suicide bomber by the IRA.
Robinson became the first woman president of Ireland.
signed the Treaty
on European Union at Maastricht.
It received a guarantee that its
law would not be affected.
|1992||(17th Jan). Eight
by the IRA.
(5th Feb). Loyalists carried out bookmakers’ shop massacre.
was needed for progress to be made, which meant getting Sinn
Féin to rein in the IRA. Hume
again in the early
agreed that a united Ireland should come about as a result of
but there was no chance of
Unionists going for it.
Republic, Irish voters approved a loosening
of the abortion
law. Access to information was guaranteed and
travel abroad to have an abortion was permitted.
March). An IRA
bomb in Warrington,
Parry and Johnathan Ball.
Oct). The IRA
Protestants in a chip
shop on the Shankill.
(30th Oct). Greysteel massacre of seven Catholics by Loyalists.
Dec). The Downing
Street Declaration began a peace process
to end in a political
Major signed for Britain and Albert
Reynolds for the
Reynolds was Taoiseach of a coalition dominated by Fianna
the Irish party with the strongest national and republican tradition
guaranteed Northern Ireland’s constitutional status. The Downing
Street Declaration once
again referred to the majority in Northern Ireland. Its
main difference from Sunningdale
and the Anglo-Irish
Agreement was its
recognition of the key significance of Unionist
investigate any potential threats to the Unionist way of life in the
He also promised a change to articles 2 and 3 as a gesture to Northern
Unionists. The Official
gave it a guarded but sympathetic reaction.
this time there had been 3168 killed
in the last 25 years, including
soldiers and 294 RUC officers.
Loughlin Island massacre
ceasefire. It was met with enthusiasm in
republican areas of NI, but
the Unionists had reservations
because it looked like the republicans
achieved something. Paisley saw it as the worst crisis for Ulster since
John Major expressed disappointment that the IRA were not giving up
nor promising a permanent ceasefire. The
Times urged caution but also saw the high significance of
the ceasefire. Major
was convinced that Sinn Féin could not be involved until a
ceasefire was called. Hume and Reynolds told him this was unimportant.
and UVF’s ceasefire gave the situation
and the UDA
announced its ‘abject
remorse’ for its innocent
announced this government had a ‘working
assumption’ that the
IRA ceasefire would be permanent. He had to be cautious in coming
together with Sinn Féin.
McGuinness headed a Sinn Féin delegation at
Stormont. This was
ground-breaking contact between Sinn Féin and the British
Gerry Adams met Patrick
Mayhew, the NI Secretary. The British
there could be no progress without some decommissioning.
Adams and McGuinness
were aware that IRA hardliners would be impatient. It seemed as though
between the British government and Sinn
Féin was too great. There was
awkward question of Sinn Féin’s relationship
with the IRA.
Irish government’s participation formed a link between Sinn
Féin and the British
government. Reynolds was gone by then. Before his resignation, he had
Major that the old anti-Free State IRA had never officially surrendered
arms, and this would affect the later IRA. John Bruton
of Fine Gael had
Taoiseach in December 1994. Fine Gael, the Civil War victors, felt less
understanding for the IRA than Fianna Fáil. Bruton
mistrusted the IRA
and Sinn Féin, but even so he was too republican for Major.
Trimble became head of the Unionists. He had recently taken a
stance over the traditional Drumcree
march and had opposed Sunningdale.
with Sinn Féin renouncing violence, the Unionists also
needed to change.
Adams and shook hands with him. His
down to personal conviction and partly due to the fact that there were
forty million Americans of Irish descent. US senator George
tasked with reporting on possibilities for progress. Many IRA
republicans remained stuck in the past and regarded decommissioning as
humiliation. George Mitchell recognised
that they would not decommission and recommended immediate multi-party
its ceasefire and attacked
Canary Wharf. Gerry
blamed the British
government and the Unionists.
Sinn Féin gained 15.5% of the vote
for the multi-party forum, but they were
from talks because of the cessation of the ceasefire. June
15th saw the Manchester
bomb, and there were other attacks on soldiers during the
all made things more difficult for Adams. John Major said that in the
there would be an interval after an IRA ceasefire so the
IRA’s commitment could
be proven. Talks went on with the Unionists, SDLP, and Alliance Party;
said Major was more concerned with maintaining his majority in the
Blair came to power in the UK. The new NI
Secretary was Mo
power in the Republic, headed by Bertie
reassured Unionists and asked Sinn Féin for negotiation
violence. He and
Ahern agreed that decommissioning need not be a precondition to talks.
talks had struggled on for two years without Sinn Féin, but
Sinn Féin was
excluded because of continuing IRA violence.
Féin was readmitted
to peace talks. The DUP
promptly withdrew. The talks were highly
tense, with many regarding IRA
as unforgivable. Sinn Féin was suspended once because of IRA
A deadline of 9th
April 1998 was set for a final settlement.
from the Catholic
the Republic under certain circumstances.
(Oct). Mary McAleese became President of Ireland.
April). Disagreements dragged on between the British and
Irish governments over the
North/South body that was to associate NI with the Republic of
Ireland. The next eight days
were to be a ‘nightmare’,
mother dying and Trimble’s Unionists
rejecting the settlement blueprint, on the grounds that it was too
April). Blair flew to Belfast, followed by Ahern despite
his mother’s death. The
next 72 hours were full of frantic negotiation,
including phone calls
Féin raised 78 new points of issue.
issue; Sinn Féin said they couldn’t be responsible
Agreement was not finally reached,
with acceptance from Trimble, until late Good Friday
was optimistic; the Unionists believed that the Union was
strengthened. Adams thought most nationalists would be hopeful. George
Mitchell, however, pointed out the continued lack of trust
and nationalists. The Good Friday document stated its regret for the
hope for peace and mutual respect in the future. However, Trimble and
still would not speak directly to one another for five months. The Agreement
that both parts of
the island of Ireland and a majority in NI should agree to unification
they did, the British and Irish governments were bound to grant it. The
of NI would not change. An impression was almost given that the process
work itself out. The
positively committed itself to withdrawing articles
2 and 3 from the
constitution. In a sense the Agreement
had just produced a summary of
current situation. Feelings still ran deep on either side. Both sides
‘idealists’ – the Unionists were already
in possession of their idea while the
northern nationalist ideal was an aspiration.
Ireland Assembly was set up with 108 members representing
Northern Irish constituencies.
It would have the same authority as that held by the
government’s NI departments under direct rule. The d’Hondt
voting system held
that the majority vote should comprise a majority of all Unionists and
nationalists – a problem for Trimble who thus needed DUP and
support. Three bodies were set up to improve Northern Ireland/Republic
A new police force was discussed as the RUC were not believed to represent the whole community. The RUC name would be changed to the PSNI, the Police Service of Northern Ireland. It would no longer fly the Union flag. All members were to be schooled in laws on human rights. The release of paramilitary prisoners was also discussed and some were released before serving their full time. Decommissioning of (primarily IRA) arms was an issue. They had not ‘won’ but they did not want to appear defeated. The Unionists pointed out that the Agreement was not safe while Sinn Féin was still allied with a violent organisation. The Decommissioning Act extended the deadline to 2007; weapons could either be handed to an independent commission or destroyed by the paramilitaries themselves. Sinn Féin, as part of the Agreement, was committed to decommissioning. Public referendums expressed endorsement for decommissioning. 94% in the Republic and 74% in NI.
(June). Assembly elections. The SDLP and Sinn Féin did well but Trimble’s Ulster Unionists were only slightly ahead of the DUP. Trimble was elected First Minister. However, he refused any power-sharing government with Sinn Féin without proof that they were active in decommissioning. The Unionists talked of Sinn Féin and the IRA as being the same.
splinter groups of the IRA disagreed with
co-operation with other
groups. The Real
Mitchell returned and after weeks of talks, persuaded
office with Sinn Féin in return for evidence that the IRA
Nov). The first executive created by the Good Friday
Agreement was formed.
Dec). The requisite powers were devolved
(17th Dec). Inaugural summit meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.
|Ireland in the Twenty-First Century|
|2000 – 2002||During
this time, devolution
was continually suspended and restored. With no progress
new NI secretary Peter
devolution, in order to stop
from the Assembly and causing its collapse.
(Feb 3rd). John
Gilligan extradited from the
|(Feb 11th). Devolution
over decommissioning dispute.
|(March 25th). David
Trimble narrowly won a leadership
challenge for the Ulster Unionist party.
|(May 6th). The IRA stated
that it would put its weapons beyond use.
|(May 15th). The
Republic was named as a top tourist
|(May 17th). Dispute
on which flags should fly from public buildings reached the British
(May 29th). Devolution restored two days after David Trimble won his party’s backing to re-enter the Assembly despite a lack of IRA decommissioning.
|(June 26th). IRA
weapons dump inspected.
Ahern came under pressure to cut taxes in order to combat inflation.
|(Oct 18th). Trimble
Féin from North-South councils.
|(Dec 12th). Bill
Clinton came to Dublin
as part of his peace mission for Northern Ireland.
|2001||(Jan 6th). Decapitated
body of George
Legge recovered; he had been killed during Loyalist feuding.
(Jan 17th). Huge bomb found and defused near Armagh.
(Jan 23rd). Republicans carried out a mortar attack on a British army base at Derry.
(Feb 21st). David Trimble met Tony Blair in London to discuss the peace process.
(March 4th). Real IRA set off a bomb outside the BBC's main news centre in London.
(March 8th). Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern met for talks with the major political parties in Belfast.
(March 31st). Loyalists murdered Protestant Trevor Thomas Lowry, apparently believing he was a Catholic.
(April 13th). A small explosion at a post office depot in London was blamed on the RIRA.
(April 21st). Catholic civilian Christopher O'Kane shot dead, apparently by republican paramilitaries.
(May 3rd). Martin McGuinness confirmed that he had been the IRA's second-in-command at the time of Bloody Sunday.
(May 4th). Drug dealer Paul Daly shot dead.
(May 6th). The RIRA set off another no-warning bomb at the post office depot in Hendon, London.
(June 7th). Westminster election. Sinn Féin and the DUP both made major gains, with SF overtaking the SDLP as the major Nationalist party.
|(June 7th). Irish
voters rejected the Nice
in a referendum.
The treaty had to be approved by all 15 EU
member-states before the EU could expand to include a dozen applicant
countries from eastern Europe.
(June 18th). Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern met with representatives from the SDLP, the UUP and Sinn Féin to discuss the peace process.
(June 19th). Loyalists began to protest outside the Catholic girls' primary school, Holy Cross. The blockade was to continue until June 29th and recommence in September.
(June 23rd). John Henry McCormick, a Catholic civilian, was killed in his home by Loyalists.
(July 4th). Catholic teenager Ciaran Cummings was murdered by Loyalists.
(July 9th). Weston Park talks began between Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair.
(July 12th). Twelfth of July celebrations in Belfast were accompanied by the worst rioting in years.
(July 19th). The first of a series of Loyalist attacks on GAA clubs.
(July 29th). Loyalists killed Protestant teenager Gavin Brett in a drive-by shooting. Secretary of State John Reid warned that he was reviewing the UDA ceasefire.
(Aug 1st) Bomb hoax at Belfast airport. On the same day, the British and Irish governments published their implementation plan for the Good Friday Agreement.
(Aug 2nd). A bomb in London caused several injuries.
(Aug 10th). The Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended for one day. This had the affect of postponing the election of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister for six weeks.
(Aug 13th). Three IRA men were arrested in Colombia where they were believed to have been training FARC militants.
(Aug 14th). The IRA withdrew its decommissioning proposals in response to the suspension of the Assembly and the UUP's rejection of an earlier disarmament proposal on August 7th.
(Aug 17th). A policing implementation plan for Northern Ireland was published.
(Aug 20th). The SDLP spoke out in support of the policing plan.
(Sept 3rd). Holy Cross protest began again. RUC and British soldiers had to clear protesters away as Loyalists threw bottles and stones at the children, some as young as four. On the 5th of Sept a petrol bomb was thrown at the children. The 7th of Sept saw a silent protest as a mark of respect for the death of a Protestant 16 year old, Thomas McDonald. Protests continued throughout September, some silent when the children were passing, but on 26th Sept fireworks were thrown at both children and parents. On Oct 1st balloons filled with urine were thrown. The following day Quentin Davies, Conservative Shadow Secretary of State, accompanied the parents and children in a show of solidarity. The protest stretched into October, despite condemnations from the government, proposed legal action and an alleged threat from the Catholic Reaction Force. On 17th Oct Loyalist paramilitaries exploded a bomb nearby, damaging a house. On the 7th of Nov, the mother of one of the children launched a legal action against John Reid for failing to protect her child. That same day, Archbishop Desmond Tutu met both victims and protestors. The protest finally ended on 26th Nov.
(Sept 12th). Republicans carried out a bomb attack on a security patrol in Derry.
(Sept 14th). The Republic of Ireland held a day of mourning to commemorate the September 11th attacks on America.
(Sept 22nd). The Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended for one day.
(Sept 28th). Loyalist paramilitaries killed the journalist Martin O'Hagan. John Reid said he would give the Loyalists a final chance to renounce violence. On the same day, a concrete block was thrown at children being taken to Hazelwood Integrated College, injuring six of them.
(Sept 29th). At the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, Gerry Adams said that terrorism was 'ethically indefensible' but drew the line between terrorism and freedom fighting.
(Oct 8th). The Northern Ireland Assembly debated a motion to exclude Sinn Féin from the Executive.
(Oct 9th). Adams and McGuinness met Tony Blair at Downing Street to discuss the impasse in the peace process.
(Oct 12th). Secretary of State John Reid specified the UDA, ending recognition of their ceasefire. David Trimble, who was in
(Oct 14th). The Irish government held a funeral for eighty IRA men who had been killed during the Irish War of Independence, and were being reburied at Glasnevin Cemetry.
(Oct 18th). Three Unionist ministers formally resigned from the Executive. The UUP no longer wanted to share power with SF in the absence of decommissioning.
(Oct 22nd). Gerry Adams publicly called on the IRA to decommission. John Reid responded that the British government would not be 'grudging or ungenerous'. The IRA began decommissioning on the 23rd; the International Commission on Decommissioning confirmed that this had occurred.
(Oct 29th). A Catholic civilian, Colin Foy, and a Protestant civilian, Charles Folliard, were killed in separate incidents; Foy by a RIR soldier and Folliard allegedly by the INLA.
(Nov 6th). David Trimble was elected First Minister of Northern Ireland, with Mark Durkan as the Deputy First Minister.
(Nov 8th). Taoiseach Bertie Ahern met George Bush in Washington. Bush reiterated his support for the peace process.
(Nov 4th). A RIRA car bomb went off in Birmingham, England, with no casualties.
(Nov 11th). Ulster Young Militant Glen Hugh Branagh was killed when a pipe bomb he was holding during a riot exploded.
(Dec 12th). William Stobie, who had been implicated in the murder of Pat Finucane, was himself murdered by Loyalists. The trial against him had collapsed on Nov 26th.
|2002||(Jan). The Euro
in the Republic of Ireland.
received the Freedom
|(March). An attempt
by the Irish government to tighten already strict anti-abortion
by a small majority in a constitutional referendum
the Republic, Brendan
Comiskey, Catholic Bishop of Ferns, resigned
criticism of his handling of abuse cases in the diocese.
April). The first
recruits of the new Police Service of
Northern Ireland graduated.
April). The IRA stated
that it had put a second tranche
of arms beyond use.
May). Voters in the Republic re-elected
Fianna Fáil's Bertie Ahern as taoiseach
in a continuing
coalition with the Progressive Democrats. The main opposition party
Fine Gael lost over a third of its seats in parliament.
the 30th anniversary of Bloody Friday, the IRA offered its 'sincere
apologies and condolences' to victims who had been
|(Oct). The Ulster
Unionists and DUP members were on the
pulling out of the Assembly
because of the IRA’s continued activity (punishment
Oct). Devolution was suspended
again by NI Secretary John
Reid. In response, the IRA broke off contact with de
But there was hope in that the Assembly had achieved some things, like abolishing
establishing a Racial
Equality Unit and
roads. The foot-and-mouth
crisis was also handled well.
Oct). Irish voters endorsed
Treaty by a
comfortable margin in a second referendum.
Oct). The IRA announced
it was suspending talks with the
Jan). In a statement,
the IRA described
the Northern Ireland peace process as 'under threat'.
Jan). The Spire of
Dublin on O'Connell Street was
Feb). 100,000 people in Dublin
and 30,000 in Belfast marched
against the impending invasion
April). US President George
W Bush arrived in Northern
Ireland for discussions
with Tony Blair, and also met Taoiseach Bertie
April). The British and Irish governments suspended a blueprint
for devolution in Northern Ireland at the last minute.
May). British PM Tony Blair postponed
until the autumn because the IRA's position was unclear. Blair
the IRA of refusing to rule out all paramilitary-related
May). The IRA released a statement
on the peace
Trimble narrowly won the backing of his party
(the UUP) for London and Dublin's proposals.
Aug). The remains
of Belfast mother Jean
found 31 years after her murder
by the PIRA.
Kerr, former deputy director of the CIA,
joined the four-strong Independent
Monitoring Commission. Its other
members included John Grieve, a former Metropolitan officer, Lord
Alderdice, the first Presiding Officer of the NI Assembly and
Brosnan, former Secretary General of the Department of Justice in
Oct). Sinn Féin, the Ulster Unionists and
Irish officials met behind the scenes.
Oct). The IRA endorsed
a statement by Gerry Adams on
republican commitment to disarmament. Arms chief John de Chastelain
said that a third act of IRA decommissioning had
been witnessed, but
Ulster Unionist leader David
Trimble stated that this was not enough.
Oct). Talks resumed to try and break the impasse.
Nov). The Assembly
election took place. The DUP and Sinn Féin emerged
as the largest parties.
Dec). Rebel Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey
party along with two newly elected assembly members. Four days later, David
Trimble announced his intention to remain leader of the party.
Jan). Ireland took
over as the President
of the European Commission.
Donaldson joined the DUP with the two other assembly members
who had resigned.
Feb). A review
of the Good Friday Agreement began at
Feb). Dissident republican Bobby
Tohill was snatched from
a Belfast bar in what Chief Constable Hugh Orde described as an
abduction attempt by the PIRA. Secretary of State Paul Murphy described
this as a 'serious
breach' [of the peace process].
March). The UUP
leader pulled his team from the review
because Sinn Féin had not been excluded over the Tohill
March). Tony Blair
and the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern met the parties in Belfast.
Trimble was re-elected
as Ulster Unionist Party leader.
March). A smoking
into effect in all pubs,
restaurants and workplaces in the Republic.
April). The IRA announced
that its guns remain silent despite loyalist
'bad faith' on the part of both the British and Irish governments.
April). The IMC
backed the chief constable over the
Tohill affair and recommended financial
sanctions against both Sinn
Féin and the PUP over continuing IRA and loyalist
May). Ireland, as holder of the EU presidency,
ceremonies to welcome the EU's ten new member states.
June). The European
election. Sinn Féin's Bairbe de Brun
took over from the SDLP's Martin Morgan, while the UUP and DUP held one
June). US President George
W Bush arrived at Shannon
Airport for an EU-US summit.
June). French President Jacques Chirac said that
presidency of the EU was 'the best presidency ever'.
July). DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said unionists would guarantee
political stability if republicans would give up
Sept). Former Taoiseach John
Bruton was appointed the EU
Ambassador to Washington.
Blair said that talks at Leeds Castle would
show if there was the will to end violence and share power.
Sept). Three days of negotiations at Leeds Castle ended
without agreement. However, the mood was cautiously
McAleese was elected
unopposed for a second
term as President of Ireland. She was inaugurated on
Oct). DUP leader Ian Paisley had a landmark
Dublin with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
Oct). Taoiseach Bertie Ahern held talks with
United Nations Secretary General Kofi
Annan in Dublin.
Oct). Sinn Féin chairman Mitchel McLaughlin
DUP were trying
to humiliate the IRA over its demand for visible
decommissioning. DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said his party had
been 'clear and consistent' on IRA decommissioning.
Oct). The IMC
reported that the IRA showed signs of
winding down its capability. The UDA remained involved in organised
crime and the UVF
were a 'ruthless organisation retaining a capacity
for more widespread violence'. Paramilitary violence had 'considerably
reduced' but remained 'at a disturbingly high level'.
Nov). The British government officially recognised the UDA's
ceasefire in order to bring loyalists more fully into the
Nov). The two governments put their proposals
to the DUP
and Sinn Féin. The DUP responded a week later. No direct
could take place because the DUP refused
to talk to Sinn Féin. Both
parties backed a £1bn peace fund.
Nov). US president George W Bush telephoned
and Gerry Adams to offer his support.
Nov). Gerry Adams held a groundbreaking
with the head of Northern Ireland's police force.
Nov). Ian Paisley informed the IRA that a deal to restore
devolution would be 'now or never', but the IRA should 'wear
and ashes' and repent. Gerry Adams responded that this was
Dec). Gerry Adams stated
that current talks could go no
Paisley met the decommissioning body chief
General John de Chastelain for the second time in a week. His opinion
was that it was unrealistic to set deadlines for a political deal when
the IRA hadn't
discussed decommissioning with de Chastelain. Meanwhile
Adams appealed to republicans not to be provoked by Paisley's
Adams recommended that his party accept the
Dec). Blair and Ahern came to Belfast to make
proposals public. Part of the plan was for the IRA to allow
to be taken of its weapons being put beyond use.
Dec). The IRA rejected
Ian Paisley's demands for a
photographic record of its decommissioning.
Dec). The British and Irish prime ministers held separate
meetings with Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin
Bertie Ahern said
afterwards that the demand for photographs
was not workable.
Dec). In Bogatá,
Colombia, Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan (the
Three') were given
lengthy jail sentences for training
Marxist rebels. Two days later they were said to have fled
robbers stole £26.5m from the Northern
Bank in Belfast, provoking speculation of IRA involvement.
|2005|| (1st Jan). Cork
officially became the European Capital of Culture.
Jan). Chief Constable
Hugh Orde claimed
that the IRA had carried out the Northern Bank
robbery. Ahern said
that confidence in the peace process had been
Jan). Former Minister for Justice in the Republic Ray
Burke was jailed
for tax evasion as a result of legislation he
|(30th January). Belfast
McCartney was killed in a brawl with IRA members in a city
bar. Over the next year, his sisters were to head a high-profile
campaign to see his killers brought to justice.
|(2nd Feb). An IRA statement
announced that they were withdrawing their offer on arms
|(3rd Feb). The IRA
issued a warning
about the peace process.
|(7th Feb). Irish
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern laid
the foundation stone of a new town in the
|(16th Feb). The IRA
any involvement in the killing of Robert McCartney.
|(17th Feb). Seven
people were detained
in the Republic over suspected involvement in the
Belfast bank heist.
|(25th Feb). The IRA
released their initial
report into the Robert McCartney murder.
|(4th March). The
100th Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis
opened in Dublin.
|(8th March). The
IRA released a five-page document detailing
their investigation into
the Robert McCartney murder, declaring their readiness to shoot those
|(17th March). US
W Bush met
McCartney's sisters and partner at
the White House. Unlike previous years, Northern Ireland's politicians
were not invited to the White House St Patrick's Day celebrations.
|(21st March). Police
seized money in Dublin and Cork which they believed was
linked to the Northern Bank robbery.
|(23rd March). The
reiterated their condemnation of the Robert McCartney murder in their Easter
|(6th April). Gerry
to the IRA to help rebuild the political process. The IRA responded
positively on 26th April.
|(16th April). The
Gaelic Athletic Association voted to open
up Croke Park for soccer and
|(6th May). The DUP
won nine constituencies in the general
election. David Trimble was
defeated and later stepped down, to be replaced by Sir Reg Empey.
one MP remained to the UUP. Sinn Féin became the largest
party at Westminster. Peter
Hain took over from Paul Murphy as Northern
|(13th June). The
Irish language was officially
recognised as a working language by the
|(28th July). The
IRA announced a formal
end to their armed campaign. Tony Blair called
this a 'step
of unparalleled magnitude', but Ian Paisley was sceptical.
|(1st Aug). The
British government set out a two-year plan to scale
down the army's
presence in Northern Ireland and change policing. It also
intention to repeal
counter terrorist legislation particular to
|(19th Aug). Former
Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam
aged 55. She had overseen the
talks leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
|(15th Sept). The
population of Ireland reached
its highest since 1861. The increase was
caused by returning Irish people and newcomers from Europe and Asia.
|(25th Sept). An
statement verified that all arms had been put beyond use.
This was confirmed
by General John de Chasterlain next day. Further confirmation came from
witnesses Reverend Harold Good and Father Alec Reid.
|(22nd Nov). Peter
major changes in Northern
Ireland's local government,
reducing the number of district councils from 26 to seven.
|(8th Dec). Stormontgate
The three accused - Ciaran Kearney, William Mackessy and
Sinn Féin's Denis
Donaldson - whose arrests had led to
of the power-sharing executive in 2002, claimed the case
against them had been politically
President Mary McAleese met Queen Elizabeth II at Hillsborough Castle. It was the first time the two heads of state had met in Ireland.
|(16th Dec). Sinn
Féin member Denis
to having been a British agent for
decades. He had headed
the party's administration office at Stormont
before being arrested in October 2002 over an alleged spy
claimed there was no
republican spy ring at Stormont.
|2006||(11th Jan). The
controversial proposals to allow paramilitary fugitives to
return home without prosecution. Sinn
Féin's rejection of it meant it was unworkable.
legislation had been widely
took place in Dublin as Republican protestors
a Unionist 'Love
March). More than 400,000 people took part in the world's
Patrick's Day Festival in Dublin.
|(4th April). Former
Sinn Féin member Denis
Donaldson was found shot dead in his Donegal
cottage. The PIRA claimed
they had 'no
involvement whatsoever' in his
years later the RIRA claimed
|(6th April). Tony
Blair and Bertie Ahern arrived in Northern Ireland to unveil a blueprint
for restoring devolution.
|(16th April). Up to
120,000 people lined the streets of Dublin to mark the 90th
of the Easter Rising.
|(26th April). Prince
Philip of Britain met McAleese and Ahern in Dublin.
May). Gerry Adams said his party would not participate in
discussions on issues such as education and water charges
because 'that would be pointless'. He promised to nominate
for first minister when the assembly returned, but Paisley asserted
there would be no first or deputy minister until Sinn Féin
May). The Northern Ireland Assembly was recalled
view to electing an executive.
removed thirty Afghan refugees who had sought
sanctuary in St Patrick's cathedral and carried out a
City airport was renamed
Best Belfast City Airport on what
would have been George Best's 60th
birthday. Best, an internationally
famous footballer from Belfast, had died the previous year.
|(June). Death of
former Taoiseach Charles
J Haughey. He was given
July). Leading members of all political parties in
Ireland, North and South, marked the 90th
anniversary of the Battle of
airport was evacuated
twice in a week over bomb
July). Preliminary census
findings for the Republic of Ireland reported a population of
4,234,925 million, an increase of 8.6% since 2002.
Nov). Loyalist Michael
Stone, who had previously
attacked an IRA funeral in 1988, attempted
to bomb the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont on the day
nominations for the first and deputy minister were due to be made. His intention
was to kill Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.
Jan). Police ombudsman report in Northern
Ireland confirmed that police colluded with Loyalists in over a dozen murders
during the Troubles.
|(28th Jan). Sinn
Féin voted to support
the police of Northern Ireland for the first time in the
|(7th March). Elections
held for the Northern
|(13th March). Record
released in which Peter Mandelson, former Secretary of State for
Northern Ireland, criticised Tony Blair's policy towards Sinn
|(26th March). Ian
Paisley of the DUP and Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin held their first
agreeing a target date of May 8th for returning to power sharing.
|(3rd May). The UVF
and Red Hand Commando announced
to all paramilitary activity.
|(8th May). New power-sharing
government formed in Northern Ireland headed by Ian
Paisley and Martin
|(22nd May). Roisin
on the request of the German authorities.
|(24th May). Election
in the Republic won
by Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fáil.
|(31st May). Fianna
Fáil opened negotiations
with the Green Party.
|(14th June). Coalition
between Fianna Fail and the Greens announced.
|(25th June). Charges dropped
against soldiers and police in the Pat
|(20th July). Shoot-to-kill
|(31st July). The
British army's military
operation officially came
to an end at midnight, passing responsibility for security
onto the police force.
|(22nd Oct). The
PIRA were blamed
for the murder of Paul
Quinn. They would later be cleared
by the IMC.
|(11th Nov). The UDA
that the Ulster Freedom Fighters were to be stood
down at midnight.
|(20th Dec). Sean
Hoey found not
guilty of the Omagh
|2008||(Feb 1st) Bertie
Ahern visited Ian
|(Feb 7th) Threats
forced the return of checkpoints
|(Feb 14th) Real IRA
|(Feb 16th) Ian
Ian Paisley Junior resigned
as a minister.
|(Feb 24th) Two
Polish workers were murdered
|(March 4th) Ian
down as First Minister of Northern Ireland.
|(March 18th) The
extent of secret
links between the
IRA and the British were made public.
|(March 19th) Queen
Elizabeth came to Belfast.
|(March 30th) Mass
on a pub in Derry.
|(April 2nd) Taoiseach
Ahern announced his resignation.
|(April 11th) A
was used for the first time during an arrest in Ireland.
|(May 6th) Bertie
down as Taoiseach. Brian
confirmed as the new Taoiseach next day.
|(May 11th) Firebomb
found in Cookstown toystore.
|(May 13th) Officer hurt
by booby-trap bomb in Tyrone.
20th) A man was arrested
over the 1977 murder of British army officer Robert
|(May 27th) Drug
in a punishment
shooting in Armagh.
|(June 1st) Ian
Paisley resigned as First Minister of Northern Ireland. Sinn
by the use of the Unionist veto on matters such as education and
policing, suggested that they might disrupt
the handover to Peter
Robinson by not nominating Martin
McGuinness as deputy First Minister. However, both he and
Peter Robinson were confirmed
in their roles on June
|(June 12th) Ireland
on the Lisbon
Treaty, the only
country in the European Union to do so. The result, declared
on June 13th,
|(June 16th) American
President George Bush visited
|(June 27th) Terence
Davidson was cleared
in court of the murder
of Belfast man Robert
|(July 1st) A massive
goldmine was found
in County Monaghan.
|(July 10th) Northern
Ireland's policing board concluded that there was no
a prosecution over the Omagh
|(August 20th) Ian
Paisley Junior defended
his call for lethal
force against dissident republicans.
|(Sept 3rd) The IMC declared
the IRA Army Council 'no
30th) The Irish
its banks in the face of the 'credit
|(Oct 9th) Chris Ward
guilty of the Northern Bank Robbery.
|(Oct) Abortion rights
in Northern Ireland was discussed
|(Oct 29th) 12,000 parents
and teachers protested
over education cuts announced in the Budget.
(Nov 9th). The murder of rugby player Shane Geoghegan by Limerick gangsters sent shockwaves throughout Ireland.
|(Nov 18th). A deal
over the deadlock at Stormont, which had arisen over differences
between the DUP and Sinn Féin about policing
|(Dec 6th). David
Cameron of the Conservative Party announced closer
ties with the Ulster Unionists.
On the same day, the Irish Republic recalled all pork over fears that pigs had eaten contaminated food.
|2009||(Jan 15th). The Irish government announced
it was to nationalise
|(Jan 23rd). A proposed scheme
to recompense the families of paramilitary dead on an equal footing
with civilian victims in Northern Ireland met
It was rejected
by the British government on Feb
|(Jan 31st). A 300lb
was defused in Castlewellan, County Down. It was believed
to have been
left by dissident republicans who were targetting the Ballykinler army
|(Feb 3rd). Taoiseach Brian Cowen announced
services and public sector pensions.
|(Feb 11th). Dissident
republicans were believed
to have been involved in a 'drugs-related' murder
|(Feb 12th). The Irish government announced
the Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland.
|(Feb 21st). Massive
in Dublin about the government's handling of the recession.
|(Feb 26th). Civil
servants staged a protest
against planned pension cuts.
|(Feb 27th). The largest
robbery in the Republic of Ireland's history targetted
the Bank of Ireland in Dublin. Seven suspects were arrested
million was recovered
the next day.
level from dissident republicans in Northern Ireland was raised
from substantial to severe.
|(March 5th). It was announced that British
army officers would go
back undercover in Northern Ireland, a move
criticised by Sinn
|(March 7th). Two British
soldiers were shot
dead and four people were wounded
during a pizza delivery at Massereene
army base. The following day, Gordon Brown condemned
the attacks while Gerry Adams called
them 'an attack on the peace process'. Responsibility was claimed
by the Real
IRA. Gordon Brown travelled to Belfast on March 9th to
|(March 9th). A police
officer was shot
dead in Craigavon
after responding to a call from a woman who said her house was being
attacked. The Continuity
men were arrested
on March 10th
arrests followed, including that of top Republican Colin
|(March 11th). Peace
held in Northern
Ireland as the Pope
spoke out to condemn the violence.
|(March 17th). Taoiseach Brian
Cowen and Northern
Irish leaders met
US President Barack
Obama in the White House.
|(March 21st). Ireland won
Slam for the first time in 61 years.
|(March 24th). Amid reports
that at least two of those arrested,
Duffy, had gone on hunger-strike,
youth and a 37-year-old
man, former Sinn Féin councillor Brendan
McConville, were charged
with the murder of policeman Stephen
Carroll. The following day, six detainees won a legal
challenge to their detention, but Colin Duffy was promptly
On March 26th, a
man was remanded
on a charge of withholding information. Republican Sinn Féin
in a statement that the shootings had been regrettable but necessary acts
of war. On March 27th,
Duffy was charged
with the murder
of the soldiers. On April
2nd a 19-year-old
over the soldier deaths.
|(March 27th). Financial advisor Ted
Cunningham became the first person to be successfully
for the Northern
Bank Robbery. He was sentenced
to ten years jail on April
opposed to the peace process organised a day
Next day a school
down by a further
bomb scare, and a convicted
rapist was shot
in a paramilitary-style
attack. On April
alleged drug dealer was injured
in another punishment
shooting and another
man was also shot.
By April 5th, it
that the PIRA had warned the Irish government that they had lost
control of Ardoyne. On April
27th, Martin McGuinness, who had
threats, accused dissident republicans of turning the Bogside
into a 'ghetto'.
|(April 2nd). The day after unemployment in
the Republic reached
redundancies, meaning that 2%
Ireland's manufacturing workforce
had been laid off in four days.
|(April 7th). A severe
in the Republic.
|(April 27th). Businessman Geoff
Kerr was shot
dead in Antrim by a criminal
gang posing as delivery
men. The man charged
over the murder on May
3rd was a member of a Loyalist criminal gang led by a British
|(April 30th). The Republic reported
case of swine
flu. The North followed
suit on May
|(May 7th). The IMC
that republicans opposed to the peace process posed a serious
threat but were not capable of a sustained campaign.
Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun
that dissident republicans would
not derail the peace process, and also called
|(May 20th). A major report
on child abuse within
institutions was released.
|(May 22nd). Ireland's
|(May 24th). Catholic
McDaid was beaten
by a Loyalist
mob in an unprovoked attack following a Celtic/Rangers football
|(June 8th). A civil
case brought by the families
of the victims of the 1998 Omagh
bomb found four
members of the RIRA
Campbell, Seamus Daly
Murphy - responsible for the murders.
|(June 17th). In the early hours of the
morning, twenty Romanian families fled
their homes in Belfast after suffering
On June 23rd
it was reported
that the families would leave
|(June 18th). The British government was informed
that the UVF
had disbanded their weapons.
On June 27th,
Hand Commandos announced that they had completed
while the UDA confirmed that it had begun to decommission
25th). The International
Monetary Fund said Ireland
was suffering the worst
of any advanced economy.
|(July 13th). 'Twelfth'
celebrations in Belfast led to battles
between republicans and police, which Sinn
Féin blamed on the Real
IRA. Rioting continued
for another two nights.
|(August 7th). A young
Calpin, became the first
person in the Republic to die of swine flu. Her
death followed that of Lee
Porter, a soldier
from Coleraine, who died on July
31st in England.
swine flu victim to die in the North,
Hoy, passed away on August
|(August 21st). A
train travelling from Balbriggan to Dublin narrowly
when the rail
track collapsed immediately after the train had passed over
|(August 22nd). Long Kesh escapee
Brennan, who had been arrested in America
after his work permit had expired, was deported
from the US to the Republic of Ireland.
|(Sept 6th). British Prime Minister Gordon
Brown was criticised
after it emerged
that he had declined to put pressure on Libya
victims. The following day, in the face
from Colonel Gadaffi's son,
Downing Street denied
any 'U-turn' on compensation.
|(Sept 8th). The British Army defused
bomb found on the border.
|(Sept 17th). The jailing
of three CIRA members for a planned mortar attack in 2007
led to three
|(Oct 2nd). People in the Irish Republic voted
of the Lisbon
|(Oct 11th). The INLA
to their armed struggle.
|(Nov 6th). Thousands of people across the
against cuts in public service spending.
|(Nov 23rd). After a week of severe
floods across Ireland, Environment Minister John Gormley
claimed that the weather conditions had been the worst
'in 800 years'.
|(Nov 24th). A quarter
of a million public
sector workers went on strike in the Republic to protest
against budget cuts.
|(Nov 26th). A report
by the Commission of Investigation said that the church had deliberately
up clerical child abuse.
|(Dec). Three women
the Republic's abortion law at the European Court of Human Rights.
|(Dec 17th). The Republic officially came
out of recession
after GDP rose
by 0.3% in the third quarter.
1st). The blasphemy law came into force, making
certain opinions punishable by a heavy fine. It was immediately
by a coalition of atheists.
|(Jan 6th). The UDA
that they had decommissioned their arsenal.
|(Jan 9th). Iris
Robinson, politician and wife of NI First Minister Peter
Robinson, was forced
to resign from the DUP after it was revealed
that she had failed to declare £50,000 she had received from
two property developers to help her 19-year-old
lover start a business.
Two days later, Peter Robinson stepped down as First Minister for a period of six weeks. He returned as First Minister during policing and justice talks on Feb 3rd.
|(Jan 23rd). Sinn Féin warned
of a crisis for Stormont after talks on policing and devolution
faltered, mainly due to disagreements on the policing of Unionist parades
and to differences
over when devolution should occur. Taoiseach Brian Cowen and British PM
Gordon Brown met
on the 25th
the crisis. The talks ended without
resolution on the 27th.
|(Feb 5th). A deal
regarding the devolution
of policing and justice.
|(Feb 15th-16th). The Pope met
Irish bishops and condemned
|(Feb 22nd). A car
bomb exploded in Newry, the first such bomb in around a
decade. Police described it as a 'miracle'
that no one had been killed or injured. Dissident
republicans were blamed.
|(March 9th). The NI Assembly voted
of devolving policing and justice.
|(March 20th). The Pope
apologised for clerical sexual abuse in
|(March 30th). It was announced that the Irish
government was to provide
Irish Bank with a bailout of €8.3bn. Next day, the Anglo
Irish reported a €12.7bn loss.
|(April 12th). On the day that policing
and justice were devolved,
forced a taxi driver to take a bomb
to an army base. A passing civilian suffered minor injuries in the
|(April 22nd). A bomb
outside Newtownhamilton police station in County Armagh. Two people
(April/May) An ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano caused Irish airspace and other European airports to be closed intermittently, stranding passengers and costing the air industry millions.
|(April 30th). Top RTÉ broadcaster Gerry Ryan
dead at his home, apparently after taking cocaine.
|(May 28th). Loyalist paramilitary Bobby
Moffett was shot
dead in broad daylight by rival
(June 5th). Irish ship the Rachel Corrie was seized by Israeli authorities after trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.
(June 15th). The Saville Report into Bloody Sunday was published. It found that none of the victims had been carrying guns, although it did not accept that the nail bombs found in the pocket of Gerald Donaghey had been planted by the British. The British soldiers had been out of control and had been the first to fire, after which republican paramilitaries returned fire. People had been shot running away, lying injured and going to help the injured. British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised on behalf of the British Government.
Six of the British soldiers involved in Bloody Sunday criticised the Report, claiming Lt Col Derek Wilford was being used as a scapegoat. According to the Report, he had ignored orders by his superior, Brigadier Pat McClellan, and should never have sent the Paratroopers into an unfamiliar area where it was impossible to distinguish rioter from marcher.
(July 11th/12th) Eight men died in the Republic's most disastrous car accident on record.
Violence flared in the North around the Twelfth, with 27 police injured during riots on the night of the 11th, and around 100 police involved in containing an anti-Orange Order protest in Ardoyne on the 12th, during which baton rounds were fired. Meanwhile police described rioting in Derry as some of the worst in a decade. Rioting continued on the nights of the 13th and 14th.
(July 15th). Derry was named the UK's inaugural City of Culture.
(Aug 14th). On the day of the Apprentice Boys' March, a bomb went off in a bin in Lurgan, injuring three children. The bomb was the latest in a string of incidents (more detailed timeline here).
(Aug 24th). A report was published into the Claudy bombing of 1972, naming Catholic priest Father James Chesney as the mastermind of the attacks that killed nine people including children. He had not been prosecuted at the time to avoid stirring up further sectarian animosity.
(Sept 14th) A public inquiry found no evidence of state collusion in the killing of LVF leader Billy Wright by republicans at Long Kesh in 1997.
(Sept 21st) The National Treasury Management Agency raised €1.5bn of fresh loans by selling Irish government bonds. Two days later, the announcement that Irish national output had dropped by 1.2% in the second quarter of 2010 sparked speculation of a double-dip recession, which Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan denied. On Sept 30th, the Governor of the Central Bank revealed that the bail-out of the Anglo Irish Bank could cost €34bn. The total cost of bailing out the banks could be as high as €45bn. On the same day, the Allied Irish Bank was nationalised.
(Oct 23rd) Thousands of people protested in Belfast against government spending cuts.
(Nov 3rd). A student protest in Dublin against increased registration fees led to violence.
(Nov 4th). The government announced record cuts to the budget, including €6bn worth of cuts in 2011.
(Nov 12th/13th). It was reported that the Irish government was in preliminary talks with the EU over a financial bailout. On Nov 15th, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said that Ireland would make no application to the EU or the IMF for funding. The European Central Bank vice president had said that money would be available for Ireland if necessary. The following day, British chancellor George Osbourne said it was in Britain's interest to support Ireland. On Nov 18th, the Irish government accepted the idea of receiving financial assistance, with Finance Minister Brian Lenihan saying he felt 'no sense of shame about fighting hard for this country'. The government ruled out changing Ireland's low corporation tax. On Nov 21st, the Irish government confirmed that Ireland would be making a formal application for a bailout and the deal was affirmed that evening. A tough budget was unveiled on Nov 24th. Nov 27th saw a major demonstration in Dublin against the government's handling of the financial crisis. The following day, it was announced that an €85bn bailout had been agreed.
(Dec 7th). The Irish government produced an austerity budget.
(Dec 16th). The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland had failed to implement the constitutional right to abortion when a woman's life was at risk.
(Dec) Ireland suffered a second heavy winter. In Northern Ireland, an unprecedented number of leaks in the water system caused around 40,000 people to lose access to water.
18th). Taoiseach Brian
Cowen survived a Fianna Fáil confidence
However, on the 22nd
he announced he would be stepping
as leader of Fianna Fáil, but would continue running the
government until the next election. The following day, the Green Party announced
that it would no
longer be part of the coalition with Fianna Fáil. Micheál
Martin was elected
leader of Fianna
on the 26th.
(Feb 10th). Six people died when a commuter flight from Belfast crashed while landing in Cork.
(Feb 25th). A general election was held in the Republic of Ireland. Fine Gael emerged the clear victors with Sinn Féin's vote increasing and Gerry Adams winning Louth.
(March 31st). Stress tests by the Central Bank revealed that Irish banks needed a further €24 billion capital.
(April 2nd). Ronan Kerr, a young Catholic who had recently joined the PSNI, was killed when a bomb exploded under his car.
(April 17th). The rating agency Moody's downgraded Ireland's bank bonds to junk.
(Late April/Early May). 'Unprecedented' gorse fires hit both the Republic and Northern Ireland.
(May 16th). Streets in London were closed off after the first bomb warning from republicans in a decade. The threat was in response to the Queen's imminent visit to the Republic of Ireland.
(May 17th - 20th). On May 17th, the British Queen began a four-day visit to the Republic of Ireland, the first visit by a reigning British monarch in a century. Dublin was under lockdown and security was extremely tight. One of the Queen's first acts was to lay a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance. On the second day, she visited Croke Park, the scene of the first Bloody Sunday in 1920. She also laid a wreath for soldiers killed in the First World War. At Dublin Castle that evening she expressed regret that Anglo-Irish relations had not always been 'entirely benign'. On May 19th she visited the Kildare stud and the following day she finished her tour at Cork.
(May 23rd). US President Barack Obama visited the Republic. His visit was cut short by a renewed threat from volcanic ash.
(June 20th/21st). East Belfast suffered two nights of rioting, apparently orchestrated by the UVF, during which both republicans and loyalists fired shots and a press photographer was injured.
(July 12th). While the North suffered riots, the credit rating agency Moody's cut Ireland's bonds to junk status and warned of further possible downgrades. The Irish government warned that this would damage Ireland's economic recovery and the EU criticised the behaviour of the credit rating agencies.
(July 13th). The Cloyne Report into abuse in the Co Cork diocese was published. It condemned the failure to report all cases of abuse to the police. On the 20th, Taoiseach Enda Kenny criticised the Catholic church for downplaying abuse. Five days later, the Vatican confirmed that its ambassador to Ireland, Giuseppe Leanza, had been recalled to Rome.
(July 18th). A protest against austerity measures took place in Dublin.
(Aug 2nd). Senator David Norris withdrew from the Irish presidential race after a scandal involving his former lover Ezra Nawi. Two weeks later Gay Bryne also announced his decision not to run for president, apparently 'taken aback by the intensity of the media campaign against him.'
(Aug 14th). Around thirty people were injured after a bus overturned in Belfast.
(Aug 18th). Two women from Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Graham and Kathy Dinsmore, were murdered in Turkey by the boyfriend of Ms Graham's daughter.
(Sept 3rd). The International Monetary Fund announced it would release €1.5bn to Ireland.
(Sept 18th). Martin McGuinness was officially announced as Sinn Féin's candidate for the Irish presidency. Other nominees included the industrialist Seán Gallagher, social activist Mary Davis, Labour's Michael Higgins and Gay Mitchell of Fine Gael. David Norris re-entered the race along with former pop star Dana Rosemary Scallon on the 27th.
(Sept 23rd). The 'first Irish case' of death by spontaneous combustion was recorded.
(Oct 22nd). Two thousand people took part in an anti-austerity march in Dublin.
(Oct 24th). Flooding in Dublin caused the City Council to declare a major alert. That night, Garda Ciaran Jones was swept away by the River Liffey after stopping to warn motorists of the danger. Northern Ireland was also hit by floods.
(Oct 29th). Michael D. Higgins emerged as the next President of Ireland.
(Nov 25th). A PSNI Gaelic football team played for the first time at Croke Park, Dublin.
(Nov 26th). Thousands of people marched against austerity measures in Dublin.
(Dec 13th). The highest known wave to hit Irish shores was recorded off the coast of Donegal.
(Dec 15th). The International Monetary Fund released €3.9 billion in loans to Ireland.
Three babies died from a bacterial infection at
Belfast's Royal Jubilee Hospital.
(Jan 19th). Derry was hit by two bombs, with no injuries reported. Next day, Brian Shivers was convicted of the Massereene killings of March 2009, while Colin Duffy walked free.
(Feb 22nd). The UVF 'supergrass' trial over the killing of Tommy English collapsed, with nine men acquitted of all charges.
(March 3rd). The preserved heart of St Laurence O'Toole was stolen from Christ Church Cathedral.
(March 13th). Fourteen people were held in Northern Ireland's largest ever anti-fraud operation.
(March 15th). Providence Resources announced they had opened Ireland's first oil well.
(March 24th). Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced that he would resign from Fianna Fáil in the wake of the Mahon Tribunal's final report. The tribunal found that Ahern had failed to account 'truthfully' for a number of financial transactions, but it did not accuse him of corruption.
(March 31st). Around 4,000 people protested in Dublin against the Household Charge.
(April 26th). The sixth Troika review found that Ireland was meeting its bailout targets.
(May 31st). The Republic held a referendum on the EU fiscal treaty. The referendum passed by a large margin.
(June 12th). Minister for Defence Alan Shatter told the Dáil that the Government apologised for the way in which men who deserted the Defence Forces to join the Allied Forces during World War II had been treated after the war.
(June 26th). The Queen of England began a tour of Northern Ireland. On June 27th, she attended a charity event where she met Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin and shook hands with him. That afternoon, a huge Jubilee party was held at Stormont.
(July 26th). The Guardian reported that some of the main republican groups opposed to the peace process had united to form a new IRA.
(Aug). Ireland celebrated its most successful Olympic Games since 1956.
(Sept 2nd). Rioting took hold for three nights in north Belfast.
(Sept 15th). Three men from the same family died after falling into a slurry pit in Hillsborough. One was named as Ulster Rugby star Nevin Spence.
(Oct 18th). The first private clinic to offer abortions opened in Belfast amid protests.
(Oct 28th). Savita Halappanavar died at a hospital in Galway after being refused an abortion. The case came to international attention a couple of weeks afterwards.
(Nov 1st). Prison officer David Black was shot dead by the new IRA in Northern Ireland, the first prison officer to be killed in nearly twenty years.
(Dec 3rd). A decision to limit the number of days on which the Union flag was flown from Belfast town hall sparked weeks of protests, rioting and harassment of Alliance party members.
(Dec 21st). Fine Gael TD Shane McEntee committed suicide. Cyber-bullying was blamed in part for his death.
|2013||(Jan 1st). Ireland took on a six-month presidency of the EU; Derry became the UK City of Culture; and tourism initiative 'The Gathering' began.
(Jan). The Unionist flag protests continued and became more violent, making international headlines.
(Jan). The Food Safety Authority of Ireland revealed that horse meat had been found in some burgers on sale in Ireland and the UK. ABP Food Group temporarily stopped production.
(Jan 19th). Around 25,000 attended an anti-abortion 'vigil for life' in Dublin.
(Jan 25th). Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe became the first member of the force to be fatally shot on duty since 1996.
(Jan 29th). Tycoon Kevin McGeever was found barefoot, emaciated and scarred after having been kidnapped eight months previously.
(Feb 5th). A report into the Magdalene Laundries was published. The Taoiseach Enda Kenny said they were the 'product of a harsh Ireland'.
(March 22nd). After heavy snow, the whole of Belfast was affected by a power cut. Severe weather continued to pummel the North for days, with a military helicopter flying food to animals in remote areas.
(April 5th). After an emotional debate, the Irish Medical Organisation rejected a motion supporting the regulation of abortion. During this month, the inquiry into Savita Halappanavar's death continued. Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he did not intend to hold another referendum on abortion rights.
(April 13th). Thousands of people attended an anti-austerity march in Dublin.
(May 3rd). Brian Shivers, originally found guilty of the Massereene killings, was found not guilty in a retrial.
(May 7th). Irish soldiers who had fought for the Allies during World War Two and had subsequently been accused of desertion were granted an official amnesty and apology.
(May). Controversy raged over whether Ireland was a 'tax haven' for companies like Apple. Meanwhile, the 'Croke Park' talks took place regarding public sector pay.
(June). The G8 summit was held in Enniskillen amid massive security. A large protest was held on June 17th, but the summit passed off without serious incident.
Back to top
Timelines Available on the Internet