Irelands History in a Nutshell
Interested in some historic background? It may help better understanding the historic sites you visit during your trip. My former history teachers at school would likely never believe this - myself spending any time on history ...
If you are interested in even more information on Ireland's
history try this site, which a lot of the following comes from:
Colour Legend for the following table: VIPs and key events Parties and groupings
|30.000 BC -
Continent to Island
|Most of Ireland was ice covered and uninhabitable; sea levels dropped; Ireland, Europe and Britain joined. After the ice melted in Ireland, rounded mountains with deep rounded valleys remained. Fauna and flora and maybe first humans came over the land bridge; Sea levels ascended again with more ice melting in the world, and Ireland became an Island again.|
|10.000 BC -
|Humans arrived in the area of Antrim/Derry (coming from Scotland in boats around 7000 BC). They were hunters, fishers and gatherers, hunting with spears and bow/arrow utilizing flint tools. These first inhabitants mainly habitated the coastal or river areas, the central lowlands were unsettled to a large extent.|
|4.000 BC -
Stone & Megaliths
|New Neolithic settlers came from Britain, bringing farming (grain crops, goats, sheep, cattle) and the use of porcellanite (better than flint). They cleared upland forest for their farms and built better houses/farms as they were more resident. Additional news were the megaliths (Passage tombs, Portal tombs/Dolmen, Court tombs) with a focus on Irelands North. The megaliths were used for burials, but also religious or political functions are supposed. Stone became -besides wood - the most important material.|
|2.000 BC -
Bloom of metal processing
Stone circles and trade
|The knowledge on how to produce bronce came from Europe, opening the door for axes, knives, kettles and horns. Bronce needs two raw materials: copper, which was -as gold and silver -available in Ireland, and tin, which was imported from Britain. The huge passage tombs were neglected for more simple wedge tombs. On the other hand many eargen (henges) and stone circles were constructed for religious functions. Upland areas, deforested before, turned into bogs. Subsequently lowland forest was lumbered to obtain new farmland. Trade as well as population increased, tribal wars failed not to appear.|
|500 BC -
Celtic repression and culture
Tara as center of sovereignity and culture
|The celtic culture, strong in
Europe, arrived in Ireland by force (Iron weapons were better than the
Irish bronce ones) and brought the language and culture of the celts, as well as iron. Ireland was divided in more
than 150 small kingdoms (tuaths). A system of honour ruled. Warriors
- all of them from the aristocrazy- gained honour by winning battles.
Bardic religion was common with worship of nature. Druids, priests and jurists were popular. The Q-Celtic of the celts forms the base for modern Irish.
Many celtic ruins have been left in Ireland, such as the stone hillforts and royal sites such as Tara.
The Roman empire, spread over celtic Europe and Britain, did not conquer Ireland and Scotland. Anyhow Romans were in Ireland, but locally and timewise limited. During the decline of the Roman Empire from 300 AD, Ireland ransacked the Britain coast and formed colonies, from which only Scotland remained.
|400 - 800||Christianisation
Missionary of the European continent
| St. Patrick was the first
successful missionary starting his peaceful Christianisation in 432,
in which he integrated also pre-Christian myths and customes. He was born
in Scotland, and captured with 16 years of age by pirates, who sold him as
slave to Ireland. After six years he escaped, and a vision told him to
convert Ireland to Christianity. He became a priest, returned 432 as
bishop to Ireland and founded schools, churches and monasteries. St.
Patrick became a part or Irelands history, and from the 17th century he is
celebrated on March 17th (St.Patrick's day). He died 461, at that time
Ireland was catholic.
So Ireland became a country of thousands of churches, later only also monasteries, which became as powerful as the small kingdoms (tuaths). Hand-written manuscripts such as the famous Book of Kells (on exhibition in the library of the Trinity College in Dublin) were made in those monasteries.
Later (from 500) the Irish Christianity, which had developped its own style independant from Roman church, was peacefully spread outside Ireland: In 563 by St Column Cille and his followers, 627 to Northern England. St Columbanus came to Austria, Italy, Germany, France and Switzerland building up churches. By mistake the Irish were taken for Scottish, and so many churches and monasteries are even today still called "Scottish churches/monasteries".
Around 650 the more than 150 former small kingdoms (tuaths) from the celts formed provinces, the former kings of the tuaths became lords.
Kings ruled the provinces, which at that time were: Ulaid (Ulster), Airgialla (Oriel), Connacht, Laigin (Leinster), Munster and Uí Néill.
|800 - 970||Vikings
Plundering monasteries in two waves
|Those warriors from
Scandinavia/Norway attacked Ireland in two waves:
Starting 795 for around 40 years, they plundered mainly coastal monasteries, who had no defensive measures. Around 840 they intensified their attacks by building camps in Ireland, coming further into the country.
Resistance from Irelands kings was not successful. Not only the Vikings plundered monasteries, but also as greedy celtic chieftains.
Some of the camps became permanent trading settelements, such as Dublin, Wexford and Cork.
Around 850 the raids stopped, as the Vikings started builidng an own kingdom in Britain. In the coming decades the Vikings were expelled from most coastal settlements.
The second wave, starting 914, recaptured former conquests, and continued with extensive attacks. Again, tries of resistance from Irelands kings failed, more successful were the defensive measures, e.g. round towers to hide (as built at monasteries).
The raids ended, as the Vikings settled down in the towns they had founded around the Irish coast - and became traders.
The Viking period was also the time of high crosses, and Viking attacks did not change normal life totally. They brought improvement in shipbuilding, monetary trade and fleet/horse warfare.
Internally the kings tried to reinforce their power, a kingdoms more mighty than ever before developped.
|970 - 1150||Vikings,
Kings and Normans
The fight for the countries' dominion
Vikings Dominance ends with the Battle of Clontarf
Normans take over
|In 997 Ireland was
divided between the two most mighty kings: Brian
Ború from Munster and the
king of Uí Néill. Brian Ború, finally ruled all Ireland after putting
down a revolte in 999. Anyhow, another revolte followed in 1013, where
Dubhlinn resisted the siege.
When Brian Ború came back for revenge in 1014, Dubhlinn's Vikings had called reinforcements from Scotland and the Isle of Man. In the Battle of Clantorf, they anyhow lost, but Brian Boru was killed.
The Uí Néill gained the power again. Afterwards, war between the kingdoms continued, armies were modernised, and power was taken by Rory O'Connor of Connacht, who finally defeated the Leinster king Dairmait Mac Murchada, forcing him out of Ireland.
The church also had to deal with some turbulences: Corruption came in and was combatted with reforms. After the Vikings had been stopped in England, and in a later invasion the Normans took over the throne of England 1066 led by William the conqueror, the wish for expansion to other regions like Wales and western France continued.
With the help of Dairmait Mac Murchada also Ireland should be a target of the English expansion.
|1150 - 1300||Anglo-French
| King Dairmait Mac Murchada, driven off from Ireland, started a private army of
nobelemen led by Strongbow
(Richard de Clatr, Earl of Pembroke).
In 1169 this army, starting from Wales, started invading Ireland and took Leinster and Dublin due to the inferiority of Ireland's weapons - The Irish with axes, slingshots and shirts facing the Normans with swords, bowman and chain mails.
In 1171 Strongbow became King of Leinster after Dairmait's death. Later Strongbow handed over Leinster to the English king. The Anglo-French expanded their territory in Ireland consequently, building castles and market towns, mostly without force to the Irish people, but with the need to drive down some rebellions and conquests. By 1261 most of Ireland was ruled by Anglo-French lords, who had built strongholds, settlements, chruches and monasteries.
In 1199 Ireland became a Kingdom approved by the pope, consequently in 1210 English laws became valid for Ireland as well. Cistercians, Augustinians and Benedictines were introduced to Ireland and a large number of modern monasteries was built.
|1300 - 1450||
Assimilation of Normans
Scottish support by Robert Bruce
Statutes of Kilkenny
|The Normans - getting lazy or
married to Irish, assimilated in Ireland compeletely and lost power.
Englands kings lost interest and dropped support for Normans in Ireland. Many Normans were defeated consecutively by Irish Lords who saw their chance.
In Scotland, which had been invaded by Norman King Edward 1st of England in 1296, Robert Bruce became King of Scotland in 1314 after he had defeated the English at Bannockburn.
Some Irish lords, impressed by that victory, asked Robert Bruce for help against the remaining Norman lords. He sent his brother, Edward Bruce, for support. Later he became in return High King of Ireland in 1316, continuing to defeat the Normans together with Robert Bruce consecutively. In 1318, Robert was back in Scotland again, Edward was killed, leaving weakened Normans in Ireland.
In 1360, King Edward 3rd sent his son Lionel to strengthen the Normans in Ireland again. 1366 the Statutes of Kilkenny werde issued: Mixed marriages and the Irish language was strictly forbidden. But neither with army nor with laws such as the Statutes he could change the situation.
This changed with Richard 2nd in 1377: With the help of 10.000 men and artillery, he convinced many Irish lords, others were driven away.
After Richard left Ireland in 1399, war broke out, Irish lords were returning to their land, continuing the Norman decline.
In 1450, English power in Ireland was reduced to the Pale of Dublin, a 20 mile wide, fenced tie around Dublin.
|1450 - 1541||English
Henry 8th offers threat-free life to the Irish lords and becomes king
| The English
co-operated with the Earl Garrett Mór of
Kildare, and later on with his
son Garrett Óg, who ruled the Pale in the name of the King,
A false rumour of Garrett being executed by Henry 8th started things roling. The Kildares were murdered, and their former land (today Kildare) was added to the Pale, which from then on was ruled by Englishmen and not Irish lords.
Henry changed tactics: He started peaceful talks with Irish lords, giving them a threat-free life, privileges and estates, if they accepted English laws and himself as the king. And they did, giving Henry the control of most of Ireland.
In 1541 Henry 8th made himself king of England and Ireland.
|1541 - 1598||Protestant,
Catholic or ?...
Queens claim Ireland
Henry 8th "replacing" the pope
England becoming Protestantic, Catholic and again Protestantic
Queen Mary and Elizabeth invading Ireland
Henry 8th declared himself the head of the church,
replacing the pope. Reason was his plan to marry Anne Boleyn, although he was already
Additionally Henry resolved the Monasteries in England and Ireland. Ireland was ordered to accept Henry as leader of the church, but most of Ireland didn't follow.
Another change in church occured in 1549 initiated by Martin Luther with protests against corruption in the Roman Catholic church - known as the Protestant Reformation.
At this time King Edward 6th ruled, and he gradually changed to a more and more Protestantic Church in England. Again this was not supported by the Irish, thus remaining Roman Catholic.
More English invasions: Queen Mary, crowned in 1553, made England Catholic again - and sent her army into Ireland, removing Irishmen from some invaded areas around Dublin (todays counties Laois and Offaly) to leave them to Englishmen instead.
In 1558 Queen Elizabeth then turned England back Protestantic. And she also couldn't leave hands of Ireland, causing rebellions from the Irish again.
By promising wealth, many English were attracted to Ireland, specifically to FitzGeralds land, which was gained by defeating FitzGeralds revoltes before.
However, the built up towns and farms were devastated by an Irish attack again in 1598.
|1598 - 1629||Irish
Resistance and English settlers
Battle of Kinsale won by England
"Plantations" from Protestants and Scots occupying Irish land
| Ulster was in 1598 the
last bastion of Celtic life, while Irelands rest was stirred with Viking,
Norman and English culture.
Hugh O'Neill (Earl of Tir Eoghain) therefore started an attack against the English in order to preserve his Celtic heritage-and drove them out of Ulster.
The English returned with building forts, which were a hard target for the Irish - giving England an advantage.
In the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 O'Neills Irish army was defeated. The final fight was then in 1602, where Lord Mountjoy won at Omagh. O'Neill had to sign the Treaty of Mellifont, forcing him to accept English law.
Additionally the English sent Protestant settlers to Ulster, who occupied Irish land and lived in fortified towns, called Plantations Towns. Later other counties in the North were planted, with a majority of Scots, bringing the Presbyterianism with them-different from Roman Catholic and the English church. Also the Scottish settlers brought a different lifestyle and framing. The North-East became substantially different from the rest of Ireland.
On the other hand many English estate owners preferred to stay in England and set up absentee landlords, who had no interest in investments but yields and interests. This system brought Ireland down in the coming centuries.
|1629 - 1687||Cromwell
ends resistance and fights Catholicism
English civil war
Irish defeated by Cromwell, land dispossessed and given to Englishmen
| After the English parliament
gained too much power, king Charles 1st
suspended the parliament for 11
years, but had to reintroduce it 1640 as he didn't get the necessary
support in England any more.
In 1642 an English Civil war was started, when the king was repelled by citizens. Those citizens protected members of parliament who were searched from the king because of disagreeing with him.
The Cavaliers as supporters of the English king rather quickly were fought back by the Parliamentarians (Roundheads), the king had to surrender in 1646. Already in 1648 the war returned, the Roundheads won again, and executed the king this time, founding a type of Republic for the coming 11 years.
In 1641 75% of Ireland still was owned by the Irish.
In 1649 the fundamental Protestant Oliver Cromwell landed with 12.000 men in Dublin to revenge a rebellion of Irishmen, who had attacked the Protestant planters the years before. Also England didn't like the existing political and confessional resistance in Ireland. Cromwell did a good job, defeated the Irish in bloody fights and left again in 1650.
General Oliver Cromwell ruled England as the "Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England" from 1653 to 1658.
As Cromwell had no money to pay the Roundheads for their services in the Civil War, he forced thousands of Irish from their land and gave it to his soldiers and Protestants in the "Cromwellian Settelement", a forceful continuation of the plantations.
This resulted in no part of Ireland being owned to more than half by Catholics- Cromwell hated Catholicism, and expelled 1000 Catholic priests from Ireland. in 1665 only 25% of the land was still owned by the Irish.
When the cruel Cromwell died in 1660, the Parliament resurrected a "weakened" monarchy with Charles 2nd, who relaxed the situation regarding Catholicism, but didn't change the unfair land expulsion in Ireland.
|1687 - 1691||Throne
dispute of James 2nd and William of Orange
James 2nd replaced by William of Orange
Protestants againts Catholics
Battle of Boyne - William finally looses
| This will get little tricky to explain now. In fact
it's about fights between Protestants and Catholics over Europe, which
also impacted Ireland:
1688 a European war broke out: France on one side, the Great Alliance (Spain, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Naples, Prussia and Sweden) under the Protestant William of Orange (William 3rd of England) on the other.
Simultaneously, the Catholic King James 2nd was crowned in England. James daughter Mary married William of Orange.
James recruited a Catholic, Irish army, which was not liked by the Protestantic town citizens in Ireland.
When James had another, Catholic son, the Parliament wanted to prevent him getting the heir, and finally invited William of Orange to become king.
James was victim of a conspiracy and in the end had to escape to France.
William and Mary were crowned in 1689 ("Glorious revolution" or Revolution of 1688). Irish Protestants welcomed this change.
in 1689 James returned to fight and landed in Dublin to retrieve Catholic support, and besides others sieged Derry. The siege was lifted by Williamite troops.
In 1690 Grand Alliance troops arrived to support William (Protestants, you remember?), while French troops supported James (Catholic, Jacobites). Both enlarged armies met in the Battle of the Boyne, which William won.
The rests of both troops met another time at Aughrim, where the Protestants won again.
Finally, the Jacobites had to surrender and sign the peace Treaty of Limerick in 1691, where they were allowed to keep their religion. This was never ratified by the English parliament.
|1691 - 1789||Apartheid
and Industrial Revolution
Apartheid laws against Catholics
| Several laws (Penal
invented reducing Catholics rights substantially (no own scholls and
universities, no admittance to elections, no weapons ...). Later on in 1704 also
Presbyterians were discriminated by such laws. Culture and traditions
survived only in the underground.
In 1713 the Treaty of Utrecht ended the European war.
As sideeffect of this war England had built up a massive Navy, which it could use extensively now to conquest in India, southern Africa, Australia and North America through the 18th century - it was the golden era of the Bristish empire, which had to live with drawbacks later on, when it lost it's control in New England in 1777.
France on the other hand became a republic in 1789 in the French revolution.
Economically Ireland was devastated. From 1699 Irish wool and other goods werde banned on exports, the English adminstration drove a colonial exploitation strategy.
At the centuries' end the Industrial revolution came to England as first country worldwide- and consecutively Ireland.
|1789 - 1800||1798
First drive to a republic
| The United Irishmen and the 1798 Rebellion: A
new organisation, called "The United Irishmen", consisting of
both Catholics and Protestants, was formed under Wolfe
Tone. The goal: A peaceful future
for Ireland with equality for all and no difference between the
The idea of the new French republic had lit the idea, although the new Orange Order countered them to preserve the monarchy.
The Englishmen, seeing a threat in the United Irishmen, started attacking and murdering them in 1798, leading to a large rebellion as reaction. The United Irishmen were finally defeated and killed at the Battle of Vinegar Hill.
As last chapter in this story the French and Spanish sent troops to Ireland to support the drive for a republic, but also this fight was lost, as they collapse on the rough Irish sea..
But the longing for rebublicanism got obvious and required changes.
|1800 - 1877||Act
of Union, Famine
Ireland getting part of United Kingdom
Release of penal laws
Potatoe disease, famine, emigration and population decline
| In 1801 the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was formed, consisting of Wales,
England, Ireland and Scotland. The Union Jack visualized that as the new
flag for the United Kingdom, and only one, centralised parliament in
In 1813 the world-wide first police force was established in Ireland by Sir Robert Peel (the force was known as "Peelers" or "Bobbies").
Although being part of the UK, the former penal laws, discriminating Catholics and Presbyterians, were still in action until 1829. The release came after Daniel O'Connell lead a campaign with mass protests against them.
From 1845-1849 a European potatoe disease (Potato Blight) eiliminated the most important food for the peasants, and a catastrophal femine took place in Ireland. Although England supported to a certain extent, many starved (1 Mio.). The poor peasants completely relied on cheap potatoes, as the English landlords had in the past changed fields to grassland and driven the peasants off their fruitful land for other crop. Cattle and cereals were exported to England.
Another million emigrated to America instead, builidng the "Irish America". Many died on the passage on the overcrowded "coffin ships".
The population in Ireland dropped until 1900 to 4.500.000 (in the peak times Ireland had over 8 Mio. inhabitants). Many areas in Ireland were emptied, and the Irish in general had the feeling, that the Bristish could have done more to help.
The Fenians, or Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), was founded in 1858. Goal: An independent Irish republic. A rebellion in 1867 was quickly defeated by the British, and the IRB vanished for 30 years into the underground. Special for them was, that they were anti-Protestant, worsening the Catholic/Protestant conflict even more.
|1877 - 1886||Different
appeals for change, various new parties
Many secret societies and political groupings arise
|Increased taxes for the peasants drove many from their lands.
Homeless farmers, together with Michael Davitt, founded a
movement to allow farmers owning land and reduce the landlord's power.
Simultaneously, Isaac Butt started the Home Rule Party/League to reinstate a regional Ireland's parliament without separating completely from Britain.
Later Charles Stewart Parnell continued, and he talked to Davitt regarding more rights for peasants.
Both organisations merged, forming the Land League. From the league's first action - to boycott peasants who took over a farm, where the previous farmer had been evicted - a Land War emerged.
The parliament tried to help with defining fair rents, but the violence continued, as the measures were not sufficient.
The first boycott 1880 was against an English caretaker namend Captain Boycott (Lough Corrib, Lough Mask), who tried - despite very bad crop, to increase rents. Charles Stewart Parnell , symbolic person of the Irish national movement, was the initiator.
Just take a look on the the different parties and scopes these days:
- Home Rule Party/League: Reinstate a regional Ireland's parliament without separating completely from Britain
- Irish Unionists: Objectors of the Home Rule Party, wanting to keep the Act of Union (mainly Protestants)
- Irish Nationalists: Objectors to the Irish Unionists, wanting an self-governing Irish nation with one language and religion
- Irish Republicans: Wanted mainly an independent republic of Ireland
- Irish Republican Brotherhood: Independant Irish Republic (inactibe these days)
|1886 - 1893||Activities
for and aginst more autonomy of Ireland
Home Rule Bills
New groupings evolve on both sides
Liberal Party Prime Minister William Gladstone tried to
improve Ireland's situation by giving them back their parliament - it was not granted, as
the Conservatives opposed. Charles
Stewart Parnell was the one to peacefully adapt this politics of
Additionally the Irish Unionists > formed the "Irish Unionists Alliance" (IUA) to fight home rule, supported by the Conservatives in the parliament (British Unionists).
In 1884 Irish Nationalists started their "program" for one Irish Nation with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) followed in 1893 by the Gaelic League to promote the Irish language. Both organisations formed the base of the "Gaelic Revival".
Between 1885 and 1905 a successful campaign of the Irish Unionists > brought most of Irelands land from the landlords to the farmers by new laws. The idea of this was to prove home-ruling would not be necessary. It worked !
1892 the tide turned again to the liberals.
William Gladstone introduced the second home rule bill, this time passing the House of Commons, but again being defeated in the more conservative UK upper house - the law did not pass in total.
|1893 - 1914||3rd
home rule bill and ongoing activism
Again new groupings
More radical Forces
County Option Scheme
| For over 30 years the IRB
(Irish Republican Brotherhood or Fenians) >
was asleep: In 1900 they started
gathering people for a planned rebellion against the British.
In 1905 another republican party was initiated: Sinn Féin, with the goal of an independant Ireland.
1909 a tie in the general election - both Liberals and Conservatives had 272 seats - openend a door for the home-rule league >. The only way to resolve the conflict of the election was to reduce the power of the UK upper house, for which more than 272 votes would be needed: The home-rule league >, namely John Redwood, agreed to support the Liberal's Parliament Act to reduce the UK upper house power, to receive in return another home rule bill, which happened in 1912. This third bill brought things rolling:
The Conservatives suggested to separate the Unionists' North East part of Ireland, thinking, that this proposal itself would stop the home rule idea. The Unionists introduced the "Ulster Covenant" to collect signatures against the home-rule bill - with great success. The Northern provinces - completely against home-rule- started separating.
The fronts got harder. In 1913 the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) > was initiated by the Unionists- in order to have military power to prevent at least Ulster from being added to the home-ruling.
The Nationalists didn't like the idea of two separated parts of Ireland, and started their only military force: The Irish Volunteer Force (IVF), > even stronger than the UVF.
While UVF illegal weapon imports were tolerated by the police, the ones from the IVF were defeated and people killed - unequal treatment seemed obvious.
With the "County Option Scheme" the government tried to prevent a Civil War between UVF and IVF. By voting, most counties could decide if home-rule should be joined or not.
|1914-1919||First World War,
rebellion and Sinn Féin
IVF and UVF support Britain in the war
Failure of IVF rebellion
Sinn Féin winner of election
Own parliament Dail Eireann
|Due to the first World War starting August 1914,
the Third Home Rule Bill was postponed. Both Unionists and Nationalists
supported the British in the war, assuming an advantage later on for their
The UVF forces >- in the war the 36th Ulster Division - had to take huge losses on the side of the British, so London did not force Ulster into the home rule as accomodation.
From the IVF forces >- in the war as the 10th and 16th division - a part split off and stayed home. They joined in 1916 the Irish Republican Brotherhood > and planned a rebellion to drive the Bristish out of Ireland.
Clever, as the British-still involved in the war-didn't have any troops left.
On Easter Monday, April 24th 1916, 1500 rebels took over the Dublin post office and other key buildings. The Irish had settled a pact with the Germans, but the delivery of weapons did not succeed, likely the ship was counter-sunk by the Bristish. After hard fights with the British the rebels gave up, and 100 men were executed.
The British blamed wrongly Sinn Féin > for the rebellion, leading to a big success of Sinn Fèin in the next election 1918, as they gained sympathy for this confusion. This costed votes for the Home Rule Party > on the other hand.
Eamonn de Valera, president of Sinn Fèin > , refused to take his seat in Westminster after winning the election. They gained additional sympathy for their fight against sending military forces from Ireland to support the first World War in 1918.
Consequently, Sinn Fèin > gained 73 seats after the War had ended, compared to 6 seats for the Home Rule Party > and 26 seats for the Unionists. Again-nobody used the 73 seats in Westminster.
Sinn Fèin > gathered from 21st January 1919 in an own parliament (Dail Eireann), without any power though.
|1919 - 1921||War of Independence
IVF becomes IRA
Blacks and Tans reinforce British police
Bloody fights and revenge actions
Ceasefire with IRA and Britain
>, not seeing any progress in the Third
Home Rule Bill and with the goal for complete independence - if necessary
militarilly, renamed themselves in 1919 to IRA (Irish Republican
January 21st 1919 the War of Independence started with the IRA shooting two policemen.
The British hit back hard, sending ex-war soldiers to support police. These two groups - black dresses policemen and tan army uniforms - were called "Black and Tans" - brought the IRA sympathy and local support, as the Black and Tans often killed civilians as retribution for attacks.
In 1920 Michael Collins from the IRA intensified the war, killing 11 British Agents. The reprisal from the Blacks and Tans followed: They shot into the crowds at a Gaelic football match in Dublin - the day is known as Bloody Sunday.
The conflict continued, but the government went for Home Rule and in 1920, Ireland became 2 parliaments for the Unionists (Northern Ireland: Londonderry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Antrim, Down and Armagh) and the Nationalists (rest of counties), still under control of the UK parliament in London.
The Nationalists parliamental elections in May 1921 brought Sinn Féin > 124 seats, the Unionists got just 4. As before, Sinn Féin > did not accept the parliament, and went to their own Dail Eireann.
The IRA > continued their attacks for more independence and also attacked Protestants in Northern Ireland.
Finally, on July 11th 1921, the British government and the IRA signed a ceasefire, and after 4 months of negotiations Michael Collins signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty on behalf of the IRA, > although not fully in line with all his colleagues.
The treaty brought much more independence than Home-Rule and built the Irish Free State with own army, but still within British Commonwealth.
Sinn Fèin > leader Eamonn de Valera became first Prime Minister of the Irish Free State. The UK was renamed to "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" consequently.
|1921 - 1925||Irish Civil War
de Valera replaced by Arthur Griffith
IRA seizes buildings in Dublin and looses
Terror in Northern Ireland triggers B-Specials police force
|Most members of the IRA
supported the treaty,
formed the first Irish Army.
Some still believed, all 32 counties should have formed the new Ireland, under them Eamonn de Valera. In Dail Eireann a vote followed, and pro-treaty won, leading to de Valera replaced by Arthur Griffith as Prime Minister.
The anti-treaty members of the IRA seized in April 1922 many builings in Dublin. After fruitless negotiations, the Irish Army drove the IRA out of Dublin - triggering the Irish Civil War, a guerilla war lasting more than a year, which was finally stopped when the IRA, pushed already back into the mountains, lost their support by the locals.
In Northern Ireland, IRA attacks had brought up Protestants against the Catholics - violence increased and costed many lifes on both sides between 1920 and 1922. Resulting from this violence the Special B Constabulary (B-Specials, a second police force) was established to gain order again, and special laws were legislated to extend police power.
To reduce the large Nationalists repesentation in councils and to increase the number of Unionists, election systems and rules were changed - resulting in less political nagging.
|1925 - 1932||Irish Free State
Buildup of the state
New parties, power goes from Cumann na nGaedhal to Fianna Fail
Northern Ireland in ecenomical trouble
|After the civil war more "normal"
governmental activities took place, such as rebuilding the infracstructure,
introducing a new legal system and building a police, school system and
civil services. Radio Eirean was set up 1926. To visualize the new freedom
of religion a new flag was created:
Green for the Catholics, orange for the Protestants and white for the peace between them.
Eamonn de Valera, leader of the anti-treaty Republicans, still was against the free state being part of the Bristish commonwealth and opened a new party - Fianna Fail, gaining 42 seats in 1927 election against 47 seats of Cumann na nGaedhal.
By joining the other two Commonwealth Nations Canada and South Africa, they forced Britain to pass a law allowing to repeal any law, which had been passed, before Ireland became independant.
In 1932 the IRA >, which had regrouped again, demands a fully independant Ireland with force.
Laws issued by Cumann na nGaedhal > against that violence brought them less popularity, so that Fianna Fail > was able to take over the government.
In Northern Ireland, which had with help from Britain built up an own economy, encountered problems around 1920 after the Wall Street Crash, when economically bad times started.
In 1932 already over 5 % of the population was without work. Consequently, public-sector pay was cut by 10%, triggering mass encounters and later riots joined by both Unionists and Nationalists. After two people being killed by police, the government gave in, rioting stopped.
|1932 - 1945||Economic War & Second World War
Fianna Fail starts independance work
Trade War is ended with agreement
Ireland neutral in 2nd world war
|With winning the general
election in 1932, Fianna Fail
> started the full independance work:
The bands to Britain were cut, land annuities, which were former loans from Britain to be paid back by the Free State, were removed. Britain, angry on that act, launched 20% tariff on trade with the Free State, followed by the Free State issuing a tariff on trade towards Britain themselves.
This Trade War ended in 1938 by signing a bothsided agreement: The Free State had to pay £10,000,000 to pay the annuities, Britain removed their naval bases in Ireland, which was a critical thing taking the likely war into account, after Hitler gained power in Germany.
In 1936 the British King's right to interfere in Ireland was removed by Fianna Fail > under Eamonn de Valera.
1937 a new constitution was introduced: The State, consiting of the whole Island, was named "Eire" with an elected President. Issued laws for the whole Island would only be enforced for 26 counties.
When the UK went to war in 1939, Eire declared Neutrality. When the IRA > collaborated with Germany in 1940, it was beat down hard in order to keep neutrality. Anyhow about 40.000 Irish joined voluntarily the British Army.
Being in a critical situation regarding the war, the UK asked for support from Eire, offering Northern Ireland in return- Eamonn de Valera refused.
In April/May 1941, Northern Ireland got heavily bombed by the Germans, as the rest of the UK was before. Only a few, misled bombs found Cork and Dublin. The Eire government did not react.
After war, Eire was accused for not having joined the "crusade against fascism".
|1945 - 1963||Republic of Ireland
Get Eire out of Commonwealth
John Castello proclaims Republic of Ireland
Welfare state in Northern Ireland
Economic crisis in Republic of Ireland improved by Sean Lemass
|In 1948 Fianna Fail
> lead by Eamonn
de Valera was
defeated by a coalition under John Costello with the intention to
out of the Commonwealth into a fully indpendant Republic.
The UK and with it Northern Ireland were scared by this - both fearing the Commonwealth to collapse and Northern Ireland getting re-united with Eire. this was additionally encouraged by a new "Anti-Partition League" in Northern Ireland, which gained power after starting up in 1945.
Northern Ireland's Prime Minister Basil Brooke generally refused an offer to guarantee all rights to Unionists in case of a re-union with the words "Ulster is not for sale".
John Costello proclaimed Ireland as a fully independent Republic on Easter Monday 1949, renaming it to Republic of Ireland.
Althought his was a great step in the fight for independance, some fanatic Republicans still wanted the whole island united.
In Northern Ireland during the 1950s and 1960s, the welfare state was introduced and supported by the UK, life standard was rising.
Most of the official posts were assigned to Protestants- ways over a natural balance.
At the same time in the Republic of Ireland times were harder with few jobs and a depression. The new Irish Premiere Minister (Taoiseach) Sean Lemass started to work against this economical crisis:
Improve the agricultural industry, joining the United Nations in 1955, enter the European Economic Community, subsidize foreign factory set ups.
He succeeded, setting up a good economical base for the 1960s. A short lightning of the IRA > with violence restarted in 1956 and fell asleep again in 1962, giving the impression nobody being interested in reunification any more.
|1963 - 1969||Civil Rights Movement
Openness of Terence O'Neill to the Republic, fear of other Unionists
Troubles in Northern Ireland, new groupings again
Violences rises even more when James Chichester_Clark becomes Prime
O'Neill, Ulster Unionists Leader, became
Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1963 aiming high: He strived to
improve the relationship to the Republic of Ireland as well as tearing
down (sectarian) borders within Northern Ireland. Many Unionists didn't
support O'Neill, not accepting his openness towards the Republic and
fearing Protestantism to further decline.
In 1966 the Unionist Ian Paisley founded the Protestant Unionists Party to suppose O'Neill. Demonstrations branding O'Neill "Ally of Popery" were held, sectarian tensions grew, the relationship deterioated again.
The NICRA (Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association), founded in1967, had members from both sides, and demanded a fair voting system and equality for all inhabitants of Northern Ireland. Marches in 1968 were driven down by police. Some concessions could be reached, after Stormont was criticised from the world, and the NICRA >, accpeting this, stopped activities.
Still voting was not fair, and another group, People's Democracy movement (mainly students) initiated another march in 1969. They were attacked by off-duty policemen, loyalists and B-specials, without interaction from the on-duty police. Terence O'Neill - against his own Unionists party - announced an inquriy. Tension rose again, and also the NICRA > started marches again.
In the next election in 1969, Terence O'Neill's party did not gain the former power again, and O'Neill later on had to resign as he also had to deal with party-internal problems.
James Chichester-Clark became Prime Minister. In parallel marches got more and more violent, and the situation got even worse when Clark called the B-specials for support, as the Catholics felt resented.
|1969 - 1972||Rioting
and the Fall of Stormont
Republicanism replaces civil rights as goal
Split-off from IRA - Provisional IRA- starts attacks
Violence grows on both sides again
Interments again terrorism fail
Bloody Sunday, when British army killed innocent
Uk controls Northern Ireland directly, Stormont falls
Bloody Friday, when UK refuses to give Northern Ireland back
|In summer 1969 rioting in Northern Ireland
escalated after marches had been cracked down hard before.
The main focus before - civil rights - were exchanged with Republicansim. The "Battle of Bogside"- Catholics rioting - caused devastations in Belfast, some people got killed.
Also the Republic of Ireland got worried on this civil war, and the Taoiseach Jack Lynch said the Irish Government would not "stand by and see innocent people injured". This was partly missinterpreted as a planned invasion into Northern Ireland.
The UK government, realising chaos in Northern Ireland, brought the British Army and ordered better voting rules, dispanding of the B-specials and disarming and restructuring the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary). Suddenly everything to fight for was established, civil rights campaigns shut down.
However, due to all the turbulences, many people had resurrected their wish for a united Ireland.
Within the IRA> arguments led to a split-off of the "Provisional IRA", which began to start bombing and attacking policemen mainly in Northern Ireland, but also Great Britain.
After 25 people had been killed in 1970 and 174 in 1971, the loyalist UVF> started with violence against the Provisional IRA> and initiated own attacks against Catholics.
In mid 1970 the government tried a strike against the Provisional IRA> by stormign houses and searching weapons. Few were found, but the governments' violence just increased the support for the Provisional IRA.
In 1971 the RUC> and army started interning possible terrorists to get them off the streets. Many innocent were detained, the action was badly organised, and most of the leaders could escape - the support for terrorism was again increased by this action.
In 1972 a anti-Interment march ended in the "Bloody Sunday", when the army killed 14 unarmed people without getting charged for it.
Rioting and violence even more increased, bombing increased even more.
The Northern Ireland Prime Brian Faulkner, when not getting granted a re-arming of RUC> and B-specials> from London, defyed an order from London;
The Stormont government was suspended subsequently, Northern Ireland directly controlled from London now by a newly founded Northern Ireland Office (NIO). The UK government also stopped internment and gave fair trails to all Northern Ireland people.
Some Protestants-angry about the UK ruling- formed the terroristic Ulster Defence Association (UDA).
The IRA> continued bombing and violence, as they regarded London ruling even worse than Stormont ruling.
In 1972 467 were killed in Northern Ireland.
The IRA>, requesting Northern Ireland to the Irish Republic, did not get acceptance in negotiations with the UK government in 1972. As response 26 bombs exploded in Belfast within 40 minutes after this refusal from the UK ("Bloody Friday", 1972-Jul-21)
|1972 - 1984||Sunningdale Agreement & Hunger Strikes
Cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Republic - and Unionists and Nationalists
The UWC strike of the Unionists and the fall of the Executive
Dirty Protest of imprisonend terrorists
Hunger Strikes of the jailed terrorist with 10 of them starving
IRA increases violence once again
|A new ruling of Northern Ireland -
Nationalists sharing power - was introduced by the UK in 1973. Although a
anti-power-sharing party was established (Vanguard Unionists Progressive
Party), the pro-sharing parties won the elections in June 1973 and
in November 1973 to build the overall governing Executive of Northern
To identify the role of the Republic, representatives from the Republic of Ireland, England and the pro-power-sharing from Northern Ireland met in Sunningdale, England. The final Sunningdale Agreement of December 1973 had three parts:
- the cross-border Council of Ireland
- the power-sharing cross-community Northern Ireland Executive
- the elected Northern Ireland Assembly
It was agreed on in order to improve relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The Executive didn't have a good stand- terrorism went on, internal arguments were standard.
In 1974's election anti-Sunningdale parties won 11 of 12 seats, which did still not change either Executive nor Agreement.
As the anti-Sunningdale Unionists didn't see any chance from democratic ways, they gathered in the Ulster Workers' Council (UWC) and began threatening with a strike - and performed it after ignorance from the Executive. After normal work and life broke down, and even the army couldn't break the strike, the Executive finally collapsed in May 1974 and Northern Ireland was again ruled by London. After this the UWC> called off their strike in victory on May, 29th.
Still the IRA> and loyalists attacks and corresponding responses continued, killing 1398 people between 1973 and 1980.
No try to resolve the problems succeeded, but some terrorists were caught by the army.
In 1976 those terrorist, before kept in a "Special Category" prison, were made to "normal criminals", thus required to wear prison clothes and kept under stricter rules. This led to the "Dirty Protest", when they didn't wear those clothes, polluted their cells and din't wash. Anyhow this protest soon went under.
Another try started in 1980, when some Republican prisoners went on two hunger strikes to get back the "Special Category" status.
In 1981, one of them, Bobby Sands (Robert George Sands), even won in the 1981 UK general election. Despite massive support for these hunger strikes, Bristish prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made no consessions. 10 prisoners died of starvation.
Parallel to this Sinn Féin> got back into minds and the IRA> increased its violence once again. From 1969 to 1984 over 2000 people were killed by terrorism.
|1984 -1993||Anglo-Irish Agreement
SDLP sets up proposals and looses
Anglo-Irish Agreement between UK and Irish government
Violent resistance against the agreement from Unionists
Opening for peace talks; terrostic organisation represented by parties
|The republican Sinn
Féin> came back into the
public mind and increased it's popularity.
The moderate Nationalists party, SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party), became worried, and persuaded the Irish government to create a New Ireland Forum in 1983 to discuss the future of Ireland with the goal of creating a report.
Although in the end only the Irish government and the SDLP joined the forum, three scenarios were suggested:
- A united Ireland
- a confederation of Northern Ireland and the Republic or
- a joint authority over Northern Ireland.
All three scenarios were refused by Margaret Thather, after a bombing, where the IRA>had attacked her and her cabinet. Unionists> were satisfied, the SDLP> had lost.
On a secret base the UK and the Irish government started negotiations to find a way out, and on November 15th 1985 they had settled the Anglo-Irish Agreement with three major pillars:
- The Irish Republic can make proposals concerning Northern Ireland;
- The two governments discuss issues of mutual interest in a new conference for a better society
- The Irish Republic accepts, that a united Ireland is a long term objective and requires majority consent.
Of course not everyone agreed, especially Unionists. "Ulster says No" could be read on banners, demonstrations continued from 1985 into 1986, the Ulster Unionist Party UUP and Democratic Unionist Party boycotted all UK government officials, all without success.
1986 UVF> and UDA> tried with force and terrorism against Catholics and RUC> to abolish the Anglo-Irish Agreement. After re-election of Margaret Thatcher and her sticking to the Agreement, the Unionists> more or less gave up.
Violence from all terrorist groups had costed another 300 lifes between 1984 and 1987 and still continued. This at least led to the UUP> and DUP> ending their UK government boycott in September 1987 for opening peace talks.
Mary Robinson as first female President of Ireland from 1990 improved social areas and worked on solve the Northern Ireland conflict.
Talks initiated in 1991 excluded the major terrroristic parties, and the rest had restrictions in mindset, which they would not give up on, leading to a dead-end.
How to get terroristic organisations, and by that the main cause of violence, into such discussions?
The solution was to initiate ceasefires and let Sinn Fein> represent the IRA>.
The new Progressive Unionist Party PUP could represent the UVF>, while the new Democratic Unionist Party DUP represented the UDA>.
|1993 - 1996||Ceasefires and
fallback of the IRA
Terroristic organisation have political representatives
decommissioning of weapons not accepted by all
IRA starts terror again
|In late 1993 a new peace process
All terroristic organisations had political representatives.
Both Irish and British government committed in the Downing Street Declaration their mutual will to negotiate the future, and that every party giving up violence can join. After 24 years of violence the Northern Ireland public desired a solution.
On August 31st 1994 the IRA> announced a "complete cessation of military operations". Celebrations broke out. Also the umbrella organisation UVF> and UDA>, the Combined Loyalist Military Command, announced their cessation a few weeks later.
Although some sectarian violences broke out again in summer 1995, the ceasefires were kept.
The peace talks finally were started mid 1995, but still without Sinn Féin> and the fringe loyalists, as they were requested to decommission their weapons beforehand to prove the ceasefire being permanent. This caused a hold in the talks.
Assisted by the USA, in January 1996 the Mitchell report recommended a permissions for parties to take part in the talks, if they decommission their weapons at least during the talks.
The IRA> refused any weapon handover, as decommissioning could not begin until the process had completed.
This led finally to the point, that the IRA> announced on February 9th 1996, that their ceasefire was over, followed by a massive bombing in London.
Subsequently the British Army, which had released some security measures before, re-introduced them. The IRA>, not wanting to loose support from the stressed Northern Ireland, concentrated bombing on Britain mainland.
|1996-1998||Ceasirefires #2, Good Friday Agreement
Terror with full force again
All-party talks finally can start after IRA accepts ceasefire
George Mitchell sets time limit and succeeds
After 29 years finally an agreement is made
|In summer of 1996 another level of hardship came
back and caused civil unrests in many areas.
Public traffic was hijacked and burned, streets blocked, terroristic attacks run and ceasefires terminated.
Sinn Féin> was a winner in the UK General election on the first of May 1997.
The new UK prime minister Tony Blair announced the all-party talks starting. As Sinn Féin> was connected to the IRA>, they only could participate if the IRA> accepted a ceasefire, which they initially didn't do.
Violence continued with full strenght in summer 1997. In order to get a participation of Sinn Féin> in the talks, the IRA> finally announced a new new ceasefire on July 20th 1997.
On September 9th Sinn Féin> accepted the principle of democracy and non-violence, and on September 15th all of Northern Ireland's parties (except the boycotting DUP> and UK Unionist Party UKUP) gathered for peace talks - a historic moment.
Some fights were now fought on the political stage as well. After the killing on Loyalist Volunteer Force LVF leader Billy Wright on December 27th 1997, some retaliation murders on Catholic civilians came, leading again to murder of Protestants.
Issues like that caused parties to go out of the talks for a while. (In this case the UVF>/UDA> ordered their political counterparts PUP> and DUP> out of the talks). Sometimes parties were also expelled from the talks for a while, sometimes they went out longer than needed in protest.
The slow progress was lightened by a limit set by the chairman George Mitchell to April 9th 1998.
On April 6th Senator Mitchell showed a draft, which in it's first version was rejected by the Unionists and nearly caused a total breakdown.
With the help of Tony Blair and president Clinton, an agreement was anounced on Good Friday April 10th - after 29 years !
Of course hardliners opposing the Agreement continued terrorist attacks. This on the other hand brought their opponents together and so Sinn Féin> announced the war to be over and cooperated with the decommissioning body.
Nearly all terrorist organisations declared ceasefires. Anti-terrorist laws were issued on both sides.
|1998-today||Change of constitution||In 1997 Bertie
Ahern (Patrick Bartholemew Ahern) gets Taoiseach (Premiere
Minister) of Ireland and works on resolving the Northern Ireland conflict.
With the change of constitution 1999 the Republic officially gives up the claim for Northern Ireland and implements the Good Friday agreement with an overwheling support from North and South. A social pact shall improve the bad situation and fight poverty. The first North-South Ministerial Council takes place December 13th in Armagh.
By the early 2000s the phenomen of the Celtic Tiger - the Republic of Ireland became one of the fastest growing economies in the world- made it one of the richest countries in the EU.
In January 1999 the Euro € comes to Ireland.