Ireland continues to carry the scars of its troubled history more than most European countries. However, the Republic of Ireland has enjoyed booming prosperity since joining the European Union, and since the political breakthroughs of the last couple of years, Northern Ireland, and Belfast in particular, has also begun to harvest the fruits of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction.
6000-1750 BC—Stone Age; c 3000 BC hunter-gatherer people begin farming. Construction of passage graves.
1750–500 BC—Bronze Age.
500 BC–AD 450—Iron Age; Celtic invasion from Europe; inter-tribal strife for supremacy and the title of High King (Ard Rí).
55 BC-early 5C AD—Roman occupation of Britain (not Ireland): trade links proved by coins and jewellery found.
4C–5C— Irish Celts (known as Scots) colonise the west of England and Scotland.
432–61—St Patrick’s mission to convert Ireland to Christianity.
6C–11C—Monastic age; Irish missionaries travel to the continent.
795— Viking Invasions—Vikings from Norway and Denmark raid the monasteries near the coasts and waterways; in 841 they begin to settle.
1014— Battle of Clontarf – Brian Ború, king of Munster, defeats the Danish Vikings and the king of Leinster’s allied forces.
1156— Death of Turlough O’Connor, last powerful native ruler.
1159— Henry II (1154–89), receives the title “Lord of Ireland” from Pope Adrian IV and is permitted to invade Ireland.
1169— Invited by Dermot, King of Leinster, to oust his opponents, Strongbow (Richard de Clare) lands with his Anglo-Norman army and in 1171, Strongbow declares himself King of Leinster to the discomfiture of Henry II. England’s involvement in Irish affairs is now constant, though the interests of the two frequently diverge.
1177— Anglo-Norman invasion of Ulster by John de Courcy.
1185— Prince John, “Lord of Ireland”,visited the country, to which he returned in 1210.
1297— First Irish Parliament convened.
1315–18—Bruce Invasion – Edward Bruce, brother to King Robert of Scotland, lands at Carrickfergus with 6 000 Scottish mercenaries (gallowglasses); he is crowned king in 1316; but dies at the Battle of Faughart near Dundalk in 1318.
1348–50—The Black Death kills one-third of the population.
1366— The Statutes of Kilkenny promulgated to maintain the distinction between Anglo-Normans and native Irish. Prohibition of fosterage, bareback riding, hurling, the Irish language and Irish dress and patronage of Irish story tellers and poets largely fails in their purpose.
1394 & 1399—Richard II landed in Ireland with an army to re-establish control.
1446— First mention of The Pale to describe the area of English influence; by the 15C it was only a narrow coastal strip from Dundalk to south of Dublin.
1471— The Earl of Kildare appointed Lord Deputy, marking the rise to power of the Geraldines.
1487— The pretender Lambert Simnel crowned Edward V of England in Dublin by the Earl of Kildare.
1491— Perkin Warbeck, pretender to the English throne, landed in Cork without the opposition of the Earl of Kildare.
1494— Sir Edward Poynings app- ointed Lord Deputy: under Poynings’ Law the Irish parliament could not meet or propose legislation without royal consent.
1534–40—Failure of the Kildare (Geraldine) Revolt and the end of Kildare ascendancy.
Reformation and Plantation
1539— Reformation and Dissolution of the Monasteries.
1541— Henry VIII declared King of Ireland by the Irish Parliament.
1556— Colonisation of Co Laois (Queen’s County) and Offaly (King’s County) by English settlers.
1579— Desmond (Munster) Rebellion severely crushed by Elizabeth I; confiscation and colonisation.
1585— Ireland mapped and divided into counties; 27 sent members to Parliament.
1588— Spanish Armada – After its defeat in the English Channel, the Spanish Armada, driven by the wind, sailed up the east coast of Great Britain and round the north coast of Scotland. Off the Irish coast stormy weather further depleted its ranks.
1598— Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, leads rebellion and defeats English army at the Battle of Yellow Ford.
1601— Siege of Kinsale – 4 000 Spanish troops land in Kinsale to assist Hugh O’Neill but withdraw when besieged.
1603— Submission of Hugh O’Neill (Earl of Tyrone) and Rory O’Donnell (Earl of Tyrconnell) at Mellifont to Lord Mountjoy, Queen Elizabeth’s Deputy. In 1607 they sail from Rathmullan into exile on the continent. This Flight of the Earls, marks the end of Gaelic Ireland‘s political power.
1607–41—Plantation of Ulster under James I: Protestants from the Scottish lowlands settle in the northern part of Ireland.
1641— Confederate Rebellion provoked by policies of the King’s Deputy and the desire of the dispossessed to recover their land: widespread slaughter of Protestant settlers.
1642— Confederation of Kilkenny is an alliance between the Irish and Old English Catholics to defend their religion, land and political rights.
1649— Oliver Cromwell “pacifies” Ireland with great brutality, storming Drogheda and Wexford and sending thousands of Irish to the West Indies.
1653— Under the Cromwellian Settlement most Roman Catholic landowners judged unsympathetic to the Commonwealth were dispossessed and ordered to retreat west of the Shannon.
1660— Restoration of Charles II and restitution of some land to Roman Catholic owners.
1678— The Oates Conspiracy was a pretext for the arrest, imprisonment and even death of various Roman Catholics, among them Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh.
1685— Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in France forces many Huguenots (Protestants) to flee to England and Ireland.
1688— Glorious Revolution: James II is deposed; William of Orange accedes to the English throne. 13 Londonderry Apprentice Boys shut the city gates in the face of King James’s troops; the following year the city endures a three-month siege by a Jacobite army.
1690— Battle of the Boyne – King William III of England and his allies representing the Protestant interest defeat King James II who flees to France.
1691— Siege of Limerick – Following the battles of Athlone and Aughrim, the Irish army retreats to Limerick, after a siege it surrenders ‘with honour’ as per the military terms of the Treaty of Limerick; known as the Wild Geese, these soldiers are granted leave to sail to France; many join the French army.
1695— The provisions of the Treaty of Limerick guaranteeing Roman Catholic rights are soon ignored; Penal Laws impose severe restrictions on their rights to property, freedom of worship and education.
1711— Linen Board established to control quality of linen for export; other improvements to canals, roads, and urban planning contribute to growing prosperity.
1778— Volunteers rally to defend Ireland against the French; support a call for an independent Irish parliament.
1782— Repeal of Poynings’ Law and the establishment of an independent Irish Parliament, known as Grattan’s Parliament after Henry Grattan a leading campaigner for independence.
1791— Formation in Belfast of the mostly Presbyterian United Irishmen, to promote the idea of a republican country with no religious distinctions.
1791–93—Catholic Relief Acts.
1795— Rural violence between Protestant Peep O’Day Boys and Catholic Defenders and the foundation of the Orange Order.
1796— Abortive French invasion in Bantry Bay.
1798— Rebellion of the United Irishmen launched by Wolfe Tone; main engagements in Antrim, Wexford and Mayo; the rising was brutally suppressed and 30 000 rebels killed. Tone is captured and commits suicide in prison.
Ireland in the United Kingdom
1800— Act of Union and suppression of the Irish Parliament: members take up 100 seats in the House of Commons and 32 in the Upper House in London.
1803— The abortive Emmet Rebellion led by Robert Emmet (1778–1803) ends with his hanging but provides inspiration to future nationalists.
1823— Daniel O’Connell (1775–1847), a Roman Catholic lawyer, is elected MP for Clare after campaigning for the rights of Catholics and the repeal of the Act of Union. The Roman Catholic Emancipation Act, passed in 1829, enables Roman Catholics to enter Parliament.
1845 –49—A blight destroys potato crops, leading to the Irish Potato Famine and the deaths of an estimated 800 000 people. Even more emigrate to Great Britain and the USA.
1848— Abortive Young Ireland Uprising led by William Smith O’Brien (1803–64).
1858— Founding of the rebel Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) known as Fenians.
1867— Manchester Martyrs: three Fenians are executed for the death of a policeman during an attack to release two Fenian prisoners. The conviction on doubtful evidence undermines Irish confidence in British justice.
1869— Disestablishment of Anglican Church of Ireland.
1870–1933—17 Land Acts transfer ownership of large estates from landlords to tenants.
1874— 59 Home Rulers elected to Parliament. In 1875 Protestant landowner Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-91) takes his seat, lobbying for home rule and landowner rights.
1879–82—Land League formed by Michael Davitt to campaign for the reform of the tenancy laws and land purchase.
1886— First Home Rule Bill granting Ireland autonomy to decide certain domestic matters is rejected by Parliament.
1891–1923—Congested Districts’ Board use funds from the disestablished Church of Ireland to build harbours, promote fishing, fish curing and modern farming methods in poor areas.
1893— Second Home Rule Bill rejected by Parliament.
1905–08—Sinn Féin (Ourselves) founded to promote the idea of a dual monarchy.
1912— Third Home Rule Bill introduced by Asquith: fierce opposition in Ulster where 75 percent of the adult population represented by Sir Edward Carson sign a convenant to veto it. Rival militias are armed with smuggled weaponry to form the Ulster Volunteer Force (north) and Nationalist Irish Volunteers (south).
1914— First World War: postponement of Home Rule and civil strife. Irishmen volunteer for the British army.
1917— Sinn Féin reorganised under Eamon de Valera to campaign for an independent Ireland.
1918— General Election: Redmond’s Home Rulers defeated; Sinn Féin win 73 seats.
1919— Declaration of Independence in the Irish Assembly (Dáil Éireann).
1919–20—War of Independence – Irish Republican Army (IRA) aims to block the British administration; martial law proclaimed; the Royal Irish Constabulary reinforced by British ex-servicemen (Black and Tans) notorious for their brutal tactics.
1920— Government of Ireland Act provides for partition: six Ulster counties remain part of the UK as per the will of the majority, to be ruled by a separate parliament; dominion status granted to the remaining 26 counties, which form the Free State.
Partition and Independence
1921— Anglo-Irish Treaty
1922–23—Civil War: Michael Collins and the Free State Army clash with the Republicans against even the temporary partition of the country. Casualty numbers surpass those of the War of Independence. Collins is assassinated, the Republicans are defeated.
1922— Irish Free State; the two-tier legislature comprises the Senate and Dáil Éireann.
1937— Change of name to Éire.
1938— Three British naval bases (Cork Harbour, Bere Island and Lough Swilly) granted under the Anglo-Irish Treaty are returned to Ireland.
1939–45—Second World War (referred to as the Emergency): Éire is neutral but gives covert aid to the Allies.
1949— Éire renamed the Republic of Ireland; withdrawal from the Commonwealth.
1952— Ireland joins the United Nations.
1965— Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement.
1973— TheRepublic of Ireland and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland join the European Union (EU). EEC funds stimulate development in the Republic.
1998— The Northern Ireland Assembly is established as a result of the Belfast Agreement of 10 April 1998. David Trimble and John Hume awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
2002— Euro currency goes into circulation in the Republic. Northern Ireland Assembly suspended following the arrest of three Sinn Fein party members on spying charges.
2004— Sinn Fein fail to provide Unionists (DUM and UUP) evidence that the IRA has been decommissioned. Hope for achieving a devolved Parliament is suspended.
2005— The Provisional IRA orders all its units to disarm and to cease all activity not related to peaceful political programs.
2006— Official census reveals that Republic population has risen to its highest level since 1861 (4 234 925).
2007— Following an historic meeting between Dr Ian Paisley (the leader of the DUP) and Gerry Adams (the leader of Sinn Fein) at Stormont, both parties made a commitment to set up an Executive Committee in a Northern Ireland Assembly to which devolved powers were restored on 8 May 2007.
2008— Irish Referendum on the new EU consitution dismays EU leaders after the proposal is narrowly rejected.