Timeline of Irish history

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This is a timeline of Irish history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Ireland. To read about the background to these events, see History of Ireland. See also the list of Lords and Kings of Ireland, alongside Irish heads of state, and the list of years in Ireland.


Prehistory / centuries: 1st  · 2nd  · 3rd  · 4th  · 5th  · 6th  · 7th  · 8th  · 9th  · 10th  · 11th  · 12th  · 13th  · 14th  · 15th  · 16th  · 17th  · 18th  · 19th  · 20th  · 21st

Mesolithic and neolithic periods

c. 16,000 BCDuring the Last Glacial Maximum, Ireland is covered in ice sheets
c. 12,000 BCA narrow channel forms between Prehistoric Ireland and southwest Scotland [1]
c. 10,000 BCCarbon-dating on bear bones indicate the presence of Paleolithic people in County Clare. [2]
c. 8000 BC Mesolithic hunter-gatherers migrate to Ireland
c. 6500 BCMesolithic hunter-gatherers occupy sites such as that at Mount Sandel in Ulster
c. 4000 BCAgriculture (including the keeping of livestock, and crop farming) has its beginnings in Ireland, at sites such as the Céide Fields in Connacht
c. 3500 BCThe Neolithic peoples of the Boyne Valley build a complex of chamber tombs, standing stones and enclosures over a period of hundreds of years. (Newgrange itself is dated to 3300–2900 BC).

Bronze and Iron Ages

c. 2000 BC Bronze Age technologies start to arrive in Ireland, including the moulding of Ballybeg-type flat axes, and the beginnings of copper mining at Ross Island, Killarney and Mount Gabriel. [3]
c. 500 BCDuring the Iron Age in Ireland, Celtic influence in art, language and culture begins to take hold. [4]
c. 300 BCMurder of Clonycavan Man, according to radiocarbon dating
c. 200 BC La Tène influence from continental Europe influences carvings on the Turoe Stone, Bullaun, County Galway. [5]
c. 100 BCAdditional works expand the site at Navan Fort (Emain Macha), first occupied in the Neolithic period

1st century

c. 100 ADConstruction of a series of defensive ditches between the provinces of Ulster and Connacht

2nd century

c. 140 AD Ptolemy's Geographia provides the earliest known written reference to habitation in the Dublin area, referring to a settlement in the area as Eblana Civitas

3rd century

c. 220 ADThe Annals of the Four Masters , Foras Feasa ar Éirinn, and other semi-historical (non-contemporary) texts, place Cormac mac Airt as a longstanding High King of Ireland. [6] [7] (The Annals date his reign as 226–266, but scholars vary in their assessment of Mac Airt's reign as legend or historical fact) [8] [9]

4th century

c. 300 ADPollen data records from the late Iron Age indicate a resurgence in human activity after a relatively stagnant period [10]

5th century

c. 400 Niall Noígíallach is placed by Medieval texts as a legendary Goidelic High King of Ireland (the Annals of the Four Masters dates his reign as 378–405)
431 Palladius is sent as the first bishop "to the Irish believing in Christ" by Pope Celestine I [11] [12]
432 According to the Annals of Ulster (and other chronicles), Saint Patrick returns to Ireland. [13]

6th century

536A seemingly global climate event (possibly a volcanic winter) [14] causes crop failures [15] and famine in Ireland.
563Irish monastic influence during the Golden Age peaks with the foundation of monastic schools by Saint Columba and Saint Brendan at Iona and Clonfert. [16] (Saint Columbanus would later set up similar institutions in continental Europe, Fursa in East Anglia and Gaul, Aidan at Lindisfarne. Etc.)

7th century

664–666Several sources record a pervasive "yellow plague" on the island. [17] [18]

8th century

795First Viking raids on Iona, Rathlin Island, and Inishmurray. [16]

9th century

830 Óengus of Tallaght writes the Martyrology of Tallaght, the Prologue of which speaks of the last vestiges of paganism in Ireland
852Vikings Ivar Beinlaus and Olaf the White land in Dublin Bay, and establish a fortress close to where the city of Dublin now stands

10th century

980The King of Dublin Olaf Cuaran abdicates following defeat at the Battle of Tara to Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill. [19]
988–989 Máel Sechnaill demands (and is paid) "tribute" by the Vikings at Dublin (this tribute date is sometimes recognised as the "foundation date" of Dublin as a city)

11th century

101423 AprilDefeat of Máel Mórda mac Murchada and Viking forces by the armies of Brian Boru at the Battle of Clontarf marks the beginning of the decline of Viking power in Ireland. [20]

12th century

1167Following exile by Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair, Dermot MacMurrough seeks support from Henry II of England to reclaim his Kingship.
1171Henry II of England lands at Waterford and declares himself Lord of Ireland.
11756 October [21] The Treaty of Windsor consolidates Norman influence in Ireland.

13th century

121612 November Great Charter of Ireland issued by Henry III of England.
1252The Annals of the Four Masters records a summer-time heat wave and drought. [22]
1297The first representative Irish Parliament (of the Lordship of Ireland) meets in Dublin. [23]

14th century

131526 May Edward Bruce arrives in Ireland and rallies many Irish lords against Anglo-Norman control.
136620 AprilThe Statutes of Kilkenny are passed at Kilkenny to curb the decline of the Hiberno-Norman Lordship of Ireland.
1398 Gerald FitzGerald, 3rd Earl of Desmond, mysteriously disappears; Gearóid Íarla is forever afterwards judged to be sleeping in a cave under Lough Gur, waiting to gallop out on his silver-shod horse and rescue Ireland at the moment of greatest need.

15th century

1472The Annals of the Four Masters records that the King of England sent an exotic animal (possibly a giraffe) to Ireland. [24]
1490An earthquake takes place at Sliabh Gamh in County Mayo. [25]
14941 DecemberA parliament summoned by Edward Poyning, Henry VII of England's Lord Deputy, passes Poynings' Law, under which the Irish parliament is to pass no law without the prior consent of the English parliament.
1497The Annals of the Four Masters refers to a famine which "prevailed through all Ireland". [26]

16th century

153411 June Thomas FitzGerald, the 10th Earl of Kildare, publicly renounces his allegiance to Henry VIII of England.
15373 February FitzGerald is hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.
1542The Irish parliament passes the Crown of Ireland Act, which establishes a Kingdom of Ireland to be ruled by Henry VIII and his successors.
157025 February Pope Pius V issues a papal bull, Regnans in Excelsis , declaring Elizabeth I of England a heretic and releasing her subjects from any allegiance to her.
1575May–AugustThe Annals of the Four Masters records a drought, in which no rain fell "from Bealtaine to Lammas" (1 May to 1 August), resulting in disease and plague.
1577NovemberThe Annals of the Four Masters records that the Great Comet of 1577 "was wondered at by all universally".
157916 July Second Desmond Rebellion : James FitzMaurice FitzGerald, a cousin of the 14th Earl of Desmond, lands a small force of rebels at Dingle.
1594The Nine Years' War commences in Ulster, as Hugh O'Neill and Red Hugh O'Donnell rebel against Elizabeth I's authority in Ulster.

17th century

160714 SeptemberThe Flight of the Earls : The departure from Ireland of Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone and Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell.
1609 Plantation of Ulster by Scottish Presbyterians begins on a large scale.
164122 October Irish Rebellion of 1641 : Phelim O'Neill leads the capture of several forts in the north of Ireland.
1642 Irish Confederate Wars : The Irish Catholic Confederation is established, under the nominal overlordship of Charles I of England, with its capital at Kilkenny.
164628 MarchThe Supreme Council of the Irish Catholic Confederation signs an agreement with a representative of Charles I, which procures some rights for Catholics in return for their military support of the royalists in England.
The members of the Supreme Council are arrested; the General Assembly renounces the agreement with England.
1647A more favorable agreement is reached with Charles's representative, which promises toleration of Catholicism, a repeal of Poynings' Law, and recognition of lands taken by Irish Catholics during the war.
16901 July Battle of the Boyne
1695The Education Act, one of a series of Penal Laws, is passed in 1695. It prohibits Catholics from sending their children to be educated abroad, and remains in place until 1782.

18th century

1740 Extreme winters in successive years result in poor harvests, causing a large scale famine in which between 300,000 and 480,000 die.
1760February Battle of Carrickfergus : A French invasion.
1782After agitation by the Irish Volunteers, the Parliament of Great Britain passes a number of reforms—including the implicit repeal of Poynings' Law—collectively referred to as the Constitution of 1782.
1796December Expédition d'Irlande : Attempted French invasion.
179824 May Battle of Ballymore-Eustace : A miscarried surprise attack on the British garrison at Ballymore in County Kildare is counterattacked and defeated.
22 August Irish Rebellion of 1798 : One thousand French soldiers land at Kilcummin in support of the rebellion.
27 August Battle of Castlebar : A combined French-Irish force defeats a vastly numerically superior British force at Castlebar.
Irish Rebellion of 1798: The Republic of Connacht is proclaimed at Castlebar, in the first United Irishmen rebellion.

19th century

18011 January Acts of Union 1800 comes into effect; the Kingdom of Ireland unites with Great Britain, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
180323 JulySecond United Irishmen rebellion: The Irish nationalist Robert Emmet attempts to seize Dublin Castle.
182924 March Catholic Emancipation : The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 is passed, allowing Catholics to sit in the UK Parliament.
18313 May Tithe War : A force of one hundred and twenty armed police forcibly takes possession of cattle belonging to a Roman Catholic priest, in lieu of his compulsory tithe to the Anglican Church of Ireland.
183417 December Dublin and Kingstown Railway is opened as the first commercial railway in Ireland.
1836Tithe War: The passage of the Tithe Commutation Act 1836 reduces the amount of the church's tithe and changes the manner of payment, which largely ends the unrest.
1845–1849 Great Irish Famine : A potato blight destroys two-thirds of Ireland's staple crop, leading to an estimated 1 million deaths and emigration of a further 1 million people. [27]
18675 March Fenian Rising .
1879-1882The "Land War," a period of rural agitation for fair rents and free sale of land to liberate Irish peasants from generations of debt and tenancy.
18861st Home Rule Bill, also known as the Government of Ireland Bill 1886 .
18932nd Home Rule Bill, also known as the Government of Ireland Bill 1893 .

20th century

191319 AugustA Dublin businessman, William Martin Murphy, fires forty workers he suspects belong to the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (ITGWU). A resulting strike and related civil unrest, the Dublin Lockout, lasts from August 1913 to January 1914.
191418 September Government of Ireland Act is passed, providing for Irish Home Rule, but its application is simultaneously postponed for the duration of World War I. [28]
191624 April Easter Rising : The Irish Republican Brotherhood leads an action which seizes key government buildings in Dublin, and issues the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The Rising lasts til 29 April 1916.
191818 AprilActing on a resolution of Dublin Corporation, the Lord Mayor convenes a conference at the Mansion House to devise plans to resist conscription.
14 DecemberA general election returns a majority for Sinn Féin.
191921 JanuaryThe First Dáil of the Irish Republic meets and issues a Declaration of Independence from the UK.
21 January Irish War of Independence : Volunteers of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) kill two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary in what is considered to be the first act of the War of Independence.
19213 May Northern Ireland is established.
19216 DecemberIrish War of Independence: The War of Independence ends when negotiations between the British government and representatives of the de facto Irish Republic conclude with the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the creation of the Irish Free State.
192228 June Irish Civil War : Bombardment by Michael Collins of Anti-Treaty forces occupying the Four Courts marks the start of the Irish Civil War,
192324 MayIrish Civil War: IRA Chief of Staff Frank Aiken orders volunteers to dump arms, effectively ending the Civil War.
192517 September An election was held for 19 of the 60 seats in Seanad Éireann. Single transferable vote was used, with the entire state forming a single 19-seat electoral district, the largest number of members elected in one contest in Irish history. [29]
193729 DecemberThe Constitution of Ireland comes into force, replacing the Irish Free State with a new state called "Éire", or, in the English language, "Ireland"
194918 AprilThe Republic of Ireland Act abolishes the statutory functions of the British monarch in relation to Ireland and confers them on the President of Ireland.
195514 DecemberIreland joins the United Nations along with sixteen other sovereign states.
1969AugustTroops are deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland, marking the start of the Troubles.
1972MarchThe Parliament of Northern Ireland is prorogued (and abolished the following year).
19731 JanuaryIreland joins the European Community along with the United Kingdom and Denmark.
1973JuneThe Northern Ireland Assembly is elected.
19741 JanuaryA power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive takes office, but resigns in May as a result of the Ulster Workers' Council strike; the Assembly is suspended and later abolished.
198515 NovemberThe governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom sign the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
19903 December Mary Robinson becomes the first female President of Ireland.
1995Ireland enters the Celtic Tiger period, a time of high economic growth which continues until 2007.
1998AprilThe Belfast Agreement is signed; as a result, the Northern Ireland Assembly is elected, to which powers are devolved in 1999 and a power-sharing Executive takes office.
19991 JanuaryIreland yields its official currency, the Irish pound, and adopts the Euro.

21st century

201523 MayA 62% to 38% referendum result makes Ireland the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote. [30]

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