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Key Dates in The History of Ireland
BC 680 : Radiocarbon dating for the 1st inhabited enclosure at Navan Fort, Armagh.
AD 180 : Map of Ireland appears in Ptolemy's Geography
297: Irish raids on Roman Britain start, until 450 AD
432: Saint Patrick arrives from Wales and Ireland starts it's conversion to Christianity
795: The Vikings start raids on Ireland, and continue for 2 centuries.
1014: Battle of Clontarf, where Brian Boru (High King of Ireland) defeats the Vikings but is killed.
1169: Normans arrive in Ireland, on request from exiled Leinster King, Diarmuit MacMurchada.
1315: Edward The Bruce arrives in Ireland (Larne) and is crowned King a year later, but is killed in 1318.
1366: Parliament at Kilkenny, first capital of Ireland. Statute enacted to ban assimiliation of Anglo Irish and Gaelic Irish.
1395: Richard II defeats Leinster Irish, most Irish Kings submit to him.
1494: Parliament at Drogheda, declares all laws to have to be approved by the King.
1541: Act of Irish Parliament declares Henry XIII as King of Ireland. Plantations start and do rebellions.
1608: Plantation of Ulster by Scottish settlers. (Armagh,Cavan,Derry,Donegal, Fermanagh, and Tyrone).
1649: Oliver Cromwell arrives in Ireland - slaughters and confiscates land.
1690: Battle of Boyne where William of Orange defeats James II, who leaves for France.
1691: Penal Law enacted whereby Catholics are excluded from Parliament, Public Office, being solicitors, teachers, bearing arms, and free worship.
1793: Most Penal Law repealed, except for bars on Parliament and judgeships.
1795: Orange Order founded:
1798: Rebellion in Ireland (helped by French soliders) which failed and Wolfe Tone captured, later commits suicide before execution.
1801: Act of Union between Ireland and Britain signed.
1828: Daniel O'Connell elected MP for Clare, helped by Catholic Association founded in 1823, but cannot take his seat.
1829: Catholic Emancipation granted - Catholics allowed enter Parliament.
1840: Campaigns to remove Act of Union (1801) starts - 1 million people at Hill of Tara to hear O'Connell speak.
1845-1848: FAMINE In Ireland.
Potato crop had blight (it was the main food for Catholics). Prime Minister Peel bought £100,000 of US corn in 1845 to help. Governments changed in England in 1846 and the new Whig Government were persuaded by Trevelyan, secretary to PM Peel and Russell, not to continue to buy corn and have a laissez-faire approach. The potato crop failed again in 1846 winter and mass death and emigration took place. 1,000,000 died and 1,000,000 emigrated (mainly to America). Population fell from 8 Million to 6 Million. The Famine has left an indelible mark on Irish life, which is only coming to terms with it now.
1856/8: Phoenix Society (forerunner of Fenians) founded by O'Donovan Rossa, and 2 years later and the Irish Republic Brotherhood (forerunner of IRA).
1870: Gladstone's First Land Act - recognises tenant rights. Pressure mounts and Land Leagues form for tenant purchase and Home Rule. The Irish Parliamentary Party is founded by Issac Butt, succeeded by Charles Stewart Parnell.
1885: Loans made available to buy land through Ashbourne Act.
1892: Ulster Convention opposes moves to Home Rule. The Ulster Unionist Council founded in 1905 for same purpose.
1903: Wyndham Land Act recognises tenant propriertorship as opposed to landlordship. Forced by problem of absentee landlords.
1905: Sinn Fein (Ourselves Alone) formed by Arthur Griffith as political party to seek independence through passive resistance.
1912: Ulster Solemn League formed and 218,000 men pledge to use all means to oppose Home Rule.
1914: The Irish Parliamentary Party, leading Home Rule Party, supports the British War effort through it's leader John Redmond.
1916: Easter Rising in Dublin fails. 15 leaders executed.
1918: Election in Ireland and Sinn Fein, under new leader De Valera, wins the majority of seats (73), the Unionists 26, and the Old Parliamentary party just 6. The Sinn Fein members refuse their seats and meet instead as Dail Eireann, the Irish Parliament.
1919-1921: The War of Independence starts.
Mainly guerilla warfare from the Irish side, who are led by Michael Collins. The Volunteer Army is known as the Irish Republican Army as it seeks to get a republic. The British respond by having the Black & Tans, an uncontrolled section of the army. On Bloody Sunday the IRA killed 14 secret agents, and that afternoon the Black & Tans shot into a crowd at a sporting match killing 23. Cork City was burnt by the Tans later in 1920. Political activity was taking place in the background and the British offered a truce with the promise of elections in Southern and Northern Ireland for 2 Home Rule Parliaments (seperate). This was known as the Government of Ireland Act 1920. The War ended in July 1921. The elections produced 2 stark contrasts - Unionists won 40 out of 52 seats in the Northern Parliament, while Sinn Fein was unopposed for 120 out of the 124 Southern seats, the remaining 4 given to Unionists representing Trinity College.
1922: Treaty Negotiations begin.
De Valera was unwilling to go London and so Collins and Griffith represented the South. After 5 months and Lloyd George threatening a resumption of war, the Irish agreed to a 26-county Free State with allegiance to the King. Northern Ireland was given an option to opt of a future Irish Free State, which was immediately accepted by the Northern Parliament. The partition received little attention during the debate (emphasis was on allegiance and retention of 3 ports) - Collins believed a Boundary Commission would have only 4 counties for the North as Fermanagh and Tyrone had Catholic majorities, and that this 4 county entity would be unviable and eventually enter the Irish Free State. The Boundary commission choose 6 counties for the North. The Southern parliament and Sinn Fein were split on the Treaty - Collins/Griffith believed it to be the best deal and a stepping stone to unity while De Valera believed the oath of allegiance unacceptable. The Dail voted 64 to 57 to accept it. De Valera resigned as President, succeeded by Griffith. Collins believed a General Election would help - pro-Treaty candidates winning a majority of seats (58 to 36). It did not.
1922: Civil War breaks out.
De Valera refuses to accept result and some of Sinn Fein and the IRA Army - to be known as the Irregulars - occupy the Four Courts. They hold hostage a pro-Treaty General and then Collins ordered an attack on the building. Griffith died 1 month later exhausted, and Collins was assasinated 10 days after that in Beal na mBlath near his birthplace, on his way to meeting De Valera to negotiate an end to the Civil War. The new Dail (parliament) met and elected WT Cosgrave as President - De Valera and followers refused to take seats and set up a rival parliament. The Constitution was passed by the Dail and Westminister. The new Irish Free State took severe measures to deal with the Irregulars - anyone with unauthorised firearms would be executed. On the 7th Dec 1922 a member of the Dail was shot and the Government executed 4 republican prisoners the following day. De Valera offered a truce, in the knowledge he could not win a war, and the ceasefire treaty came into effect on 24 May 1923. Kevin O'Higgins, a friend of Collins, was Home Affairs Minister and took responsibility to restore respect for law and order after it had became part of so many people lives. O'Higgins set up an unarmed police force and used internment to round up many republican prisoners after the Civil War. He was shot in 1927 in the run-up to the General Election.
1925: Border confirmed by Boundary Commission and ratified by both Southern and Northern Parliaments and the UK government.
1927: 2nd General Election. De Valera broke away from Sinn Fein and the rump of the IRA and formed a new political party Fianna Fail in 1926. They lost the 1927 election but won the 1932 one. 1933 Fine Gael formed from the Collins/Griffith/Cosgrave party (Cumann na nGaedheal) and other smaller parties. It would dominate Irish politics with Fianna Fail for the rest of the century.
1932: De Valera elected President, in the first bloodless transfer of power in Ireland. He and his party entered the Dail that day with guns in their pockets fearing resistance from Cosgrave, but the transfer worked and democracy took hold. Abolished Oath of Allegiance. An Economic War with Britain followed with the refusul to pay land annuities under the tenant purchase scheme. The war was ended in 1938 when The Free State paid £10 Million to the UK to end annuities and also got back control of the 3 ports conceded in 1921. Meanwhile, De Valera purged the rump of the IRA in ruthless fashion.
1937: An Irish Constitution was presented by De Valera - it laid claim to the 6 counties, pending re-integration, and acknowledged the special position of the Roman Catholic church in Ireland. It was an unusual blend of republicanism and religion.
1948: Fianna Fail lose power for the 1st time in 16 years. A coalition led by Fine Gael take over.
1949: An Irish Republic is declared, hoping to take the gun out of Irish politics. It led Westminister to declare that Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK until the Northern Parliament voted otherwise.
1963 American President, John F. Kennedy, visits Ireland.
1965: Lemass, Irish Taoiseach and O'Neill, Northern PM, meet - the first meetings of their kind.
1966: Start of The Troubles
Nelson Pillar is exploded in Dublin's O'Connell Street. The Ulster Volunteer Force forms in the North and is declared illegal. The first Civil Rights march takes place in 1967. The RUC, Northern police, ban the next rally. Rioting follows. Then in 1969 militant Protestants attack a Civil Rights march. More rioting takes place and the Northern Ireland government asks for British troops to be sent to the North.
1970 saw attempts at gun-running for Republicans. 2 Irish Ministers, Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney were both dismissed from office, on suspicion of assisting. Both later acquitted.
1971 saw the first British solider killed by a reformed IRA. 1972 saw 13 Civil Rights marchers killed by the British Army in Derry.
1972 saw the burning of the British Embassy in Dublin. Direct Rule for NI from London introduced. 467 people killed in violence.
1973 Ireland enter EEC and a Power Sharing Executive is set up in Belfast. The Executive lasts 6 months due to Ulster Workers Council general strike.
1976 British Ambassador to Ireland killed in IRA landmine.
1978 Parity between Irish and British pounds ended with the European Monetary System.
1979 Charles Haughey becomes Taoiseach, and leader of Fianna Fail.
1981 Hunger strikes in Northern Ireland prisons by Republican prisoners. 10 of them die and 64 killed in related violence.
1982 Fine Gael in power after 2 elections in 8 months. Northern Ireland a priority issue.
1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement between Ireland and Britain, confirming that Northern Ireland would stay part of Britain until a majority of people in Northen Ireland voted otherwise and also set up a British-Irish Governmental conference. This has ensured both governments harmonised their approach to N.I.
1987 Fianna Fail form coalition government (for 1st time) with the Progressive Democrats. Government collapses 2 years later.
1989 Election sees return of Fianna Fail with the Labour Party as fellow-coalitionists.
1992 Haughey replaced as leader of Fianna Fail and Taoiseach by Albert Reynolds.
1993 The Downing Street declaration signed which stated:
1994 Saw much activity. Broadcasting bans on Sinn Fein lifted in Ireland and Britain. Both the IRA and the Loyalist paramilitaries declared a ceasefire.
1994 Labour Party walk out of government over Attorney General role in priest/child abuse scandal. Fine Gael form new government with them and Democratic Left - the first 3 party coalition and also the first change of government without needing an election.
1995 Daytime patrols by British Army end on the streets of Northern Ireland. New Irish Taoiseach, John Bruton, with UK PM John Major launch Framework document for way forward for talks and February 1996 is all-party talks target-date. President Bill Clinton arrives in Ireland to promote peace process and is received by rapturous crowds in Dublin, Belfast and Derry.
1996 IRA Ceasefire ends on February 9. Sinn Fein excluded from peace process until new ceasefire announced. Loyalist ceasefire has held.
1997 Stephen Restorick is the first British soldier killed since the ceasefire broke down. On the 12th Match, the UK government suspends the forum in Belfast until after the pending UK election.