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A Chronology of Key Events in Irish History
1170 to 1967



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Text and Research: Martin Melaugh
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

For an expanded and revised version of the information on this page see:
Events 1169-1799   and   Events 1800-1967


This is a draft chronology of key events in Irish history from 1170 to 1967. This chronology has been compiled from a number of sources. Any piece of information which is followed by a question mark in parenthesis (?) is a best estimate while awaiting an update.

Chronology of Key Events in Irish History, 1179 to 1967

1170
1 May 1170   Arrival of Normans in County Wexford.
Arrival of Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, subsequently known as 'Strongbow'.

1171
'Strongbow' became King of Leinster.
October 1171   Arrival in Ireland of Henry II.

1185
Arrival in Ireland of Prince John.

1210
Second visit to Ireland of King John; submission of Irish kings.

1315
Edward Bruce (brother of Robert the Bruce) of Scotland invaded Ireland; Edward proclaimed 'King of Ireland'; killed in battle at Faughart near Dundalk in 1318.

1361
Prince Lionel of Clarence arrived in Ireland to attempt to halt the assimilation of Normans.

1366
Statutes of Kilkenny were introduced to try to stop the assimilation of the 'English born in Ireland' into the Gaelic way of life.

1394
Arrival in Ireland of King Richard II; submission of Irish Kings.

1399
Second visit of King Richard II to Ireland.

1494
Sir Edward Poynings appointed as Lord Deputy (September 1494 - December 1495) of Henry VII;
'Poyning's Law' subjected the Irish Parliament to the control of the English king and council.

1509
Henry VIII became King of England.

1534
Rebellion by Earls of Kildare.

1541
Declaration Act by a complaisant Parliament recognized Henry VIII as king of Ireland . Henry introduced a policy of 'surrender and regrant'.

1558
Elizabeth I became Queen of England.

1560
Irish Parliament accepts Elizabethan church settlement thus recognising Elizabeth I as head of the reformed Church.

1562 (and onwards)
Elizabethan wars in Ireland.

1570
Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth I.

1579
18 July 1579   James Fitz Maurice Fitzgerald arrived in Dingle in Munster with a small Continental Catholic force of Italians and Spaniards, accompanied by the papal legate Nicholas Sanders; Fiztgerald betrayed and killed in August 1579.

1580
Rebels in Munster were defeated, and in November 1580 a force of Italians and Spaniards was massacred at Dún an Óir ("Golden Fort"), Smerwick Harbour, County Kerry.

1583
Munster rebellion against Elizabeth I's military governors.

1586
Plantation of Munster.

1588
Defeat of Spanish Armada.

1595
Hugh O'Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, joined with Red Hugh O'Donnell in rebellion against Elizabeth I in an attempt to preserve the Gaelic way of life.

1598
Hugh O'Neill's victory at the Battle of Yellow Ford.

1598 - 1603
War involving Spanish.

1599
Robert Devereux, 2nd earl of Essex, sent to Ireland to subdue rebellion.
Planters in Munster ousted.

1601
Hugh O'Neill and Hugh O'Donnell, together with Spanish soldiers, were defeated by Mountjoy at the Battle of Kinsale.

1603
James VI of Scotland came to the throne of England, as James I, following the death of Elizabeth I on 24 March 1603.
Hugh O'Neill surrendered.
Tudor conquest of Ireland completed. English law enforced throughout Ireland.

1606
Scottish settlers were 'planted' in the Ards peninsula area of Ulster.

1607
Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and Rory, son of Hugh O'Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell, left Ireland and into exile rather than submit to English rule (this became known as 'The Flight of the Earls').

1608 (and onwards)
Plantation of confiscated land in Ulster began. Plantations were planned and carried out in a number of areas of the region including Derry.

1641
[Only 59 per cent of land in Ireland was held by Catholics.]
Catholic-Gaelic Rebellion in an attempt to regain confiscated lands. An estimated 12,000 Protestant planters were killed during the rebellion which was finally crushed in 1649.
English Civil War began.

1642
Catholic Confederation at Killkenny.

1646
Eoghan Ruadh Ó Néill defeats Scottish forces led by Robert Munro at Benburb.

1649
King Charles 1 executed. Cromwell's army left Britain for Ireland. Cromwell's army captured Drogheda, Wexford, and other Irish cities.

1650
Catholic landowners were exiled to Connaught ("to Hell or Connaught!"). Cromwell's army left Ireland.

1654
Cromwellian Plantation.

1660
Restoration of Charles II to throne of England.

1681
Execution in London of Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, St Oliver Plunket.

1685
James II acceded to the throne of England.

1688
[Approximately 22 per cent of land was held by Catholics.]
James II deposed as King in England.
7 December 1688   The gates of the city walls in Derry were shut against the troops of James II, so beginning the Siege of Derry.

1689
28 July 1689   The Siege of Derry ended.
James II landed at Kinsale in Ireland with French support.

1690
William III (William of Orange) arrived at Carrickfergus.
July 1690   William III defeated James II at the Battle of the Boyne.

1691
Catholic forces were defeated at the Battle of Aughrim. Limerick surrendered.

1695
The first of the 'Penal Laws' were enacted against Catholics in Ireland. (The last of the 'Penal Laws' were not overturned until 1829.)

1698
William Molyneux wrote a pamphlet arguing against the right of England to make laws for Ireland.

1714
[Approximately 7 per cent of land in Ireland was held by Catholics.]

1720
Declaratory Act gave Westminster the power to legislate for Ireland.

1775
Henry Grattan became leader of the 'Patriot' party.

1775 - 1783
American War of Independence.

1782
The Irish Parliament won legislative independence from the British Parliament.

1791
The Society of the United Irishmen established in Belfast.

1793
Irish Parliament granted new powers. Catholic Relief Act of 1793.

1795
21 September 1795   Formation of the Loyal Orange Institution (Orange Order) in County Armagh.

1796
12 July 1796   First parade held to commemorate the Battle of the Boyne.
A French fleet of 35 ships with Wolfe Tone on board tried to land at Bantry Bay but were prevented by bad weather.

1798
United Irishmen Rebellion. The Rebellion of 1798 led by Woolfe Tone.
March 1798   Arrest of many members of the Leinster United Irishmen.
May 1798   Arrest and death of Lord Edward Fitzgerald. Rebellion in Midlands.
June 1798   Rebellion in Wexford. Defeat of the United Irishmen at the Battle of Vinegar Hill.
19 November 1798   Death of Wolfe Tone.

1800
The Act of Union passed (to take effect from 1 January 1801).

1801
1 January 1801   Political Union of Great Britain and Ireland.

1803
Rising in Dublin led by Robert Emmet, who was arrested, tried, and executed.

1813
"Battle of Garvagh" between Catholic 'Ribbonmen' and Orangemen.

1814
Apprentice Boys of Derry formed.

1823
Daniel O'Connell's Catholic Association, which campaigned for Catholic emancipation, was formed.

1825
The Unlawful Societies Act was passed which proscribed the Catholic Association and the Orange Order.

1829
Catholic Emancipation Act passed at Westminster.
July 1829   Fierce riots in Belfast followed the banning of the 12 July parades. Rioting spread to County Armagh and County Tyrone and resulted in at least 20 deaths.

1831
Tithe War began. Introduction of 'National' schools.

1832 - 1844
Party Procession Acts enforced to control public demonstrations.

1837
Victoria acceded to the throne.

1840
Daniel O'Connell founds Repeal Association.

1842
The Nation newspaper was founded by Thomas Davis and others.

1843
Daniel O'Connell organised a number of 'Monster Meetings' in a campaign to have the Act of Union repealed.

1845 - 1849
The Great Famine in Ireland. The first cases of blight in the potato crop occured in Ireland leading to famine.

1846
Repeal of Corn Laws.
April 1846   Sale of imported Indian corn began.
August 1846   Public works began to try to relieve poverty, but were stopped in anticipation of the new harvest.
Total failure of potato crop.
Public works programme restarted.
October 1846   First deaths from starvation.

1848
Government soup kitchens were set up to distribute free rations to the most needy.
Fever began spreading throughout Ireland.
The potato harvest was very poor.
Soup kitchens were closed.
Responsibility for relief of hunger and destitution was placed on local rates.
The Irish were left to the operation of natural forces and mercy of the free market.
Failed Nationalist uprising ('Young Ireland Rising') at Ballingarry, County Tipperary. Smith O'Brien, the Young Ireland leader, was arrested. James Stephens fled to France.

1848 - 1849
Worst years of the famine; over 1 million died and over 1 million left Ireland .

1849
12 July 1849   'Battle of Dolly's Brae' when at least 30 Catholics were killed in clashes between 'Ribbonmen' and Orangemen (Government report entitled Battle of Magheramayo).

1850 - 1872
Party Procession Acts again enforced.

1856
James Stephens returned to Ireland.

1857
July 1857   Ten days of serious rioting in Belfast following clashes surrounding the Orange Order parades on 12 July.

1858
James Stephens formed organisation that was to become the 'Irish Republican Brotherhood' (IRB).

1859
'Fenian Brotherhood' organisation founded in the United States of America.

1861 - 1865
American Civil War.

1863
The Irish People newspaper founded.

1864
Rioting in Belfast over the O'Connell monument in Dublin.

1865
James Stephens arrested but later escapes from jail.

1866
Kelly, an American Civil War veteran, travelled to Ireland and took charge of preparations for a Fenian rising.

1867
February 1867   Abortive raid on Chester Castle.
5 March 1867   Failed Fenian Uprising.
12 July 1867   Orangemen march in County Down in defiance of a ban on parades.
September 1867   Kelly rescued from a prison van in Manchester.
23 November 1867   Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien (the 'Manchester Martyrs') executed.
December 1867   Explosion at Clerkenwell.

1868
Gladstone became Prime Minister.
Protestant Church was disestablished in Ireland.

1870
Gladstone's first Land Act.

1872
Rioting in Belfast following Catholic Lady Day march.

1873
Home Rule League founded.

1875
Charles Stewart Parnell elected as Member of Parliament for County Meath.

1879
Irish National Land League founded following initiative by Michael Davitt.

1879 - 1882
Land War in Ireland.

1880
Captain Boycott and evictions.
Charles Stewart Parnell elected leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. Parnell started love affair with Mrs O'Shea.

1881
Gladstone's second Land Act. Irish Coercion Bill and obstructionism.
Charles Stewart Parnell imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail.

1882
'Kilmainham Treaty' and Charles Stewart Parnell's release from Jail.
6 May 1882   'Phoenix Park murders' - The assassination of the British chief secretary of Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish, and his under secretary, T.H. Burke. Both were stabbed to death as they walked in Dublin's Phoenix Park by members of a nationalist secret society, the Invincibles.

1885
GAA founded.

1885
Ashbourne Land Act. Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union establised.

1886
June 1886   First Home Rule Bill was defeated in the House of Commons. Eight Catholics died in rioting which followed Protestant celebrations.
July 1886   Further rioting in the north of Ireland followed Orange Order parades. Official eath toll reached 31 by the middle of September.
Ulster Loyal Anti-Repeal Union established.

1890
Charles Stewart Parnell's affair with Kitty O'Shea became public.
November 1890   Parnell Divorce case heard.
December 1890   Parnell was deposed as leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party.

1891
Charles Stewart Parnell lost three bye-elections.
October 1891   Charles Stewart Parnell died.

1893
Second Home Rule Bill. Bill rejected by House of Lords.
Gaelic Laegue established.

1893
Irish Agricultural Organisation Society founded.

1899
The United Irishman newspaper founded by Arthur Griffith.

1903
Land Purchase Act (Wyndham Act).
Formation of the Independent Orange Institution.

1905
Sinn Féin founded under Arthur Griffith.

1906
Liberal Government returned in Britain.

1909
Land Purchase Act.

1910
Two General Elections in which Irish Party held balance of power.
Edward Carson became leader of Ulster Unionist Council.

1911
Parliament Act removed veto from House of Lords.
Formation of the Royal Arch Purple.

1912
Third Home Rule Bill.
Ulster Solemn League and Covenant signed by 447,000 (?).

1913
January 1913   Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) formed and began drilling.
24 April 1913   Large supply of guns from Germany were landed at Larne for the UVF.
November 1913   Irish Citizen Army and Irish National Volunteers formed.
Dublin industrialists instituted a lockout against members of the Irish National Transport and General Workers' Union .

1914
March 1914   Curragh 'mutiny'.
July 1914   Guns were landed at Howth for Irish Volunteers.
August 1914   Outbreak of World War I.
18 September 1914   Home Rule Act on Statute Book but but was suspended for the duration of World War I.
Irish Republican Brotherhood decided on Rising.

1914
Irish Republican Brotherhood was reorganised and a military council formed.

1916
April 1916   Easter Rising in Dublin, which began on Easter Monday (24 April 1916), lasted for a week before being put down. Proclamation of the Irish Republic: Poblacht na hÉireann
3-12 May 1916   Executions of leaders of Easter Rising.
July 1916   Battle of the Somme. The 36th (Ulster Division) lost 5,500 men in the first two days of July.
December 1916   First rebel prisoners released.

1917
July 1917   All rebel prisioners were released.
Eamon De Valera won East Clare election.

1918
Miltary Service Bill.
November 1918   End of World War I.
December 1918   Sinn Féin (SF) won a majority of seats in the General Election.

1919
January 1919   First Dáil Éireann met in Dublin.

1919 - 1921
Anglo-Irish War (or 'War of Independence'; also known as 'the Troubles').

1920
Government of Ireland Act 1920 allowed for the creation of two self-governing units one based on six counties of north-east Ireland (Northern Ireland) the other based on the remaining 28 counties.
March 1920   Black and Tan members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) arrived from England.
November 1920   Kevin Barry hanged (first of a series of 24 executions that ended in June 1921).
21 November 1920   'Bloody Sunday' - The IRA killed 11 Englishmen suspected of being intelligence agents. The Black and Tans took revenge the same afternoon, attacking spectators at a GAA match in Croke Park, Dublin, killing 12 and wounding 60. .
December 1920   Burning of Cork by RIC Auxiliaries.

1921
May 1921   Irish Republican Army (IRA) burn Dublin Custom House.
7 June 1921   George V opened the first Northern Ireland Parliament. James Craig became Northern Ireland's first Prime Minister.
July 1921   There were serious riots across Northern Ireland. On 12 July 1921, 23 people were killed and over 200 Catholic homes destroyed.
6 December 1921   The Treaty of Peace between Great Britain and Ireland ('The Treaty') signed at Downing Street, London.
The Lynn Committee on education established.

1922
Widespread violence in Northern Ireland with approximately 232 people killed and roughly 1,000 injured.
7 January 1922   The Dáil voted by 64 votes to 57 to accept 'The Treaty'.
April 1922   Four Courts occupied by anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army (IRA).
7 April 1922   Special Powers Act was introduced in Northern Ireland.
June 1922   General election in Ireland won by those in favour of 'The Treaty'. Four Courts attacked by Free State Army.
Beginning of the Civil War in Ireland between those for and against 'The Treaty'.
22 August 1922   Michael Collins killed. Death of Arthur Gfiffith.
November 1922   First of 77 executions, which ended in May 1923, carried out by the Free State.
6 December 1922   The Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) came into being.
7 December 1922   The six counties of Northern Ireland opted out of the Free State.

1923
May 1923   The Irish Civil War ended.

1925
Boundary Commission report was shelved and no changes were made to the existing Northern Ireland border.

1926
Eamon de Valera founded Fianna Fáil.
6 May 1926   Emergency Powers Act was introduced in Northern Ireland.

1927
General Election in Free State.
Eamon de Valera entered the Dáil for the first time.

1931
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was declared an illegal organisation in the Irish Free State.
Ulster Protestant League (UPL) established.

1932
Northern Ireland Government moved to new buildings at Stormont which were opened by Edward, Prince of Wales.
There was rioting in Belfast brought about by resentment over the hardships caused by the depression.
General Election in the Free State. Eamon de Valera formed first Fianna Fáil government in the Dáil. Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners released.

1932 - 1938
Introduction of protectionist policies led to an economic war between the Irish Free State and Britain. This economic war ended in 1938.

1933
Special Powers Act in Northern Ireland.
United Irish Party (later to become Fine Gael) formed.

1934
Lord Craigavon made famous 'Protestant Nation' speech.

1935
Rioting in Belfast during the summer months with 13 people killed.

1936
Public Order Act introduced in Northern Ireland. This gave the Chief Constable the power to impose conditions on parades or public processions if it was thought they would lead to public disorder.

1937
Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Irish Constitution) was approved by a referendum. The Constitution (articles 2 and 3) claimed sovereignty over the whole of the island of Ireland.

1938
Douglas Hyde (a Protestant Irish-speaker from County Rosscommon) was elected as the first President of Ireland.
Economic war with Britain, which had begun in 1932, ended. Britain gave up military and naval rights in 'Treaty' ports.

1939 - 1945
September 1939   World War II, which was known in the Free State as "the Emergency" began. The Free State declared itself neutral.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) began a campaign of bombing in Britain.
December 1939   IRA carried out a raid on Magazine Fort, Phoenix Park, Dublin.

1940
Germany attempts to enlist the help of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) but various attempts fail.
IRA hunger-strike.

1941
The German Airforce bombed Belfast killing 949 (?) people, injuring 2,000, and destroying thousands of homes. The Irish government sent fire engines to Belfast to help put out the fires. Germans bomb Dublin, mistaking it for Liverpool, and killed 34 people.

1943
Basil Brooke, later to become Lord Brookeborough, became the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

1945
May 1945   World War II ended.
July 1945   Labour Government came to power in Britain.
Sean O'Kelly succeeded Douglas Hyde as President of Ireland.

1946
Sean MacBride formed Clann na Poblachta (political party).

1947
Education Act introduced.

1948
General Election in Ireland.
Fine Gael entered into a coalition government which ended 16 years of government by Fianna Fáil.

1949
Republic of Ireland established.
Republic of Ireland leaves the Commonwealth.
Ireland Act (1949) guaranteed Northern Ireland's position within the United Kingdom.

1951
Fianna Fáil returned to government in the Republic of Ireland.

1954
A second coalition government took power in the Republic of Ireland.
The Flags and Emblems Act was introduced in Northern Ireland. The Act was exclusively used against the flying of the 'tricolour' (the flag of the Republic of Ireland).

1955
Republic of Ireland joined the United Nations.

1956 - 1962
11 December 1956   The Irish Republican Army (IRA) began what was it called "The Campaign of Resistance to British Occupation"; which was also known as the 'Border Campaign'. As a result of the campaign, Internment was introduced in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The campaign ended on 26 February 1962 because of lack of support.

1957
Fianna Fáil returned to power in the Republic of Ireland.

1959
Seán Lemass was elected as Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). Eamon de Valera succeeded Seán O'Kelly as President of Ireland.

1961
Radio Telefis Éireann (RTE), the Irish Broadcasting company, began transmission of television programmes.

1963
Terence O'Neill became the Prime Minister of the Northern Ireland government.
John F Kennedy, then President of the United States of America, visited the Republic of Ireland.

1964
17 January 1964
The Campaign for Social Justice (CSJ) was formed. The CSJ was the forerunner of the civil rights movement and it began a programme of publicising what it saw as widespread discrimination, in a number of areas of life, against Catholics in Northern Ireland.
Rioting in Belfast during the election.
Monday 28 September 1964   Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers, acting under instructions from the Minister of Home Affairs, forced their way into the Divis Street offices of the Republican Party and removed the Irish national flag (the tricolour). The move led to serious rioting in west Belfast. [See: Boyd, A. (1969), '1964: The Tricolour Riots']

1965
Sean Lemass, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), travelled to Belfast to meet Terence O'Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister. This was the first official meeting between an Irish Taoiseach and a Northern Ireland Prime Minister. A meeting between the two men also took place in Dublin. The meetings caused uproar amongst unionists.

1966
Rioting broke out in Belfast as Loyalists held counter demonstrations to oppose commemorations of the Easter Rising in 1916.
Early 1966 (?)   Ian Paisley helped to establish the Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV) (Holland, 1999: p23).
Early 1966 (?)   The modern version of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was formed. The UVF issued a statement in May 1966 containing the threat that, "known IRA men will be executed mercilessly and without hesitation".
1966 (?)   The UVF exploded a bomb at Silent Valley Resevoir, County Down.
7 May 1966   The UVF carried out a petrol bomb attack on a Catholic owned bar and off-licence in Upper Charleville Street in the Shankill Road area of Belfast. The attackers missed their intended target and set fire to the home of Matilda Gould (77), a Protestant civilian, who lived next door to the public house. Gould was severely injured in the attack and died on 27 June 1966 as a resulted of her injuries.
27 May 1966   The UVF shot and mortally wounded John Scullion (28), a Catholic civilian, in the Clonard area of west Belfast. Scullion died from his injuries on 11 June 1966.
26 June 1966   The UVF shot three Catholic civilians in Malvern Street in the Shankill area of Belfast. One of those shot, Peter Ward (18), died at the scene and the two other men were seriously injured.
28 June 1966   The UVF was declared illegal.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) blew up Nelson's Pillar in O'Connell Street in Dublin.
Jack Lynch succeeded Sean Lemass as Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister).

1967
29 January 1967
The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) was formed. The civil rights movement called for a number of reforms one of which was for 'one man, one vote', that is, a universal franchise for local government elections. At the time only rate-payers were entitled to votes, and there were other anomalies to do with additional votes for companies. The association also pressed for the end to gerrymandering of electoral boundaries. Other reforms pressed for included: the end to perceived discrimination in the allocation of public sector housing and appointments to, particularly, public sector employment; the repeal of the Special Powers Act; and the disbandment of the 'B-Specials' (Ulster Special Constabulary) which was a paramilitary style reserve police force which was entirely Protestant in its makeup.
November 1967   The Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) was formed.
Republican Clubs were declared illegal in Northern Ireland.


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