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Timeline of Irish history

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Title: Timeline of Irish history  
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Subject: History of Ireland (400–800), Protohistory of Ireland, Gaelic Ireland, History of Ireland by period, History of the Republic of Ireland
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Timeline of Irish history

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

Year Date Event
c. 16,000 BC During the Last Glacial Maximum, Ireland is covered in ice sheets
c. 12,000 BC A narrow channel forms between Ireland and southwest Scotland [1]
c. 8000 BC Mesolithic hunter-gatherers migrate to Ireland
c. 6500 BC Mesolithic hunter-gatherers occupy sites such as that at Mount Sandel in Northern Ireland
c. 4000 BC Agriculture (including the keeping of livestock, and crop farming) has its beginnings in Ireland, at sites such as the Céide Fields in Mayo
c. 3500 BC The 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

Year Date Event
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 Mount Gabriel in Co. Cork, and Ross Island in Co. Kerry.[2]
c. 500 BC During the Iron Age in Ireland, Celtic influence in art, language and culture begins to take hold.[3]
c. 300 BC Murder of Clonycavan Man, according to radiocarbon dating
c. 200 BC La Tène influence from continental Europe influences carvings on the Turoe stone, Bullaun, Co. Galway.[4]
c. 100 BC Additional works expand the site at Emain Macha (first occupied in the neolithic period)

1st century

Year Date Event
c. 100 AD Construction of a series of defensive ditches between the provinces of Ulster and Connacht

2nd century

Year Date Event
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

Year Date Event
c. 220 AD The 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.[5][6] (The Annals date his reign as 226-266, but scholars vary in their assessment of Mac Airt's reign as legend or historical fact)[7][8]

4th century

Year Date Event
c. 300 AD Pollen data records from the late Iron Age indicate a resurgence in human activity after a relatively stagnant period[9]

5th century

Year Date Event
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[10][11]
432 According to the Annals of Ulster (and other chronicles) Saint Patrick returns to Ireland.[12]

6th century

Year Date Event
536 A seemingly global climate event (possibly a volcanic winter)[13] causes crop failures[14] and famine in Ireland.
563 Irish monastic influence during the Golden Age peaks with the foundation of monastic schools by Columba and Brendan at Iona and Clonfert.[15] (Columbanus would later set up similar institutions in continental Europe, Fursa in East Anglia and Gaul, Aidan at Lindisfarne. Etc.)

7th century

Year Date Event
664-666 Several sources record a pervasive "yellow plague" on the island.[16][17]

8th century

Year Date Event
795 First Viking raids on Iona, Rathlin Island, Inishmurray and Inishbofin.[15]

9th century

Year Date Event
830 Óengus of Tallaght writes the Martyrology of Tallaght, the Prologue of which speaks of the last vestiges of paganism in Ireland
852 Vikings 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

Year Date Event
980 The King of Dublin Olaf Cuaran abdicates following defeat at the Battle of Tara to Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill.[18]
988/9 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

Year Date Event
1014 23 April Defeat of Máel Mórda mac Murchada and Viking forces by the armies of Brian Boru marks the beginning of the decline of Viking power in Ireland.[19]

12th century

Year Date Event
1167 Following exile by Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair, Dermot MacMurrough seeks support from Henry II of England to reclaim his Kingship.
1171 Henry II of England lands at Waterford and declares himself Lord of Ireland.
1175 6 October[20] The Treaty of Windsor consolidates Norman influence in Ireland.

13th century

Year Date Event
1216 12 November Great Charter of Ireland issued by Henry III of England.
1252 The Annals of the Four Masters records a Summer-time heat-wave and drought.[21]
1297 The first representative Irish Parliament (of the Lordship of Ireland) meets in Dublin.[22]

14th century

Year Date Event
1315 26 May Edward Bruce arrives in Ireland and rallies many Irish lords against Anglo-Norman control.
1366 The Statutes of Kilkenny are passed at Kilkenny to curb the decline of the Hiberno-Norman Lordship of Ireland.

15th century

Year Date Event
1472 The Annals of the Four Masters records that the King Of England sent an exotic animal (possibly a giraffe) to Ireland.[23]
1490 An earthquake takes place at Sliabh Gamh in County Mayo.[24]
1494 1 December Edward Poyning, Henry VII of England's Lord Deputy to Ireland, issued a declaration known as Poynings' Law under which the Irish parliament was to pass no law without the prior consent of the English parliament.
1497 The Annals of the Four Masters refers to a famine which "prevailed through all Ireland".[25]

16th century

Year Date Event
1534 11 June Thomas FitzGerald, the 10th Earl of Kildare, publicly renounced his allegiance to Henry VIII of England.
1537 3 February FitzGerald was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn.
1542 The Irish parliament passed the Crown of Ireland Act, which established a Kingdom of Ireland to be ruled by Henry VIII and his successors.
1570 25 February Pope Pius V issued a papal bull, Regnans in Excelsis, declaring Elizabeth I of England a heretic and releasing her subjects from any allegiance to her.
1575 May-Aug The Annals of the Four Masters record a drought, in which no rain fell "from Bealtaine to Lammas", which resulted in disease and plague.
1577 November The Annals of the Four Masters record that the Great Comet of 1577 "was wondered at by all universally".
1579 16 July Second Desmond Rebellion: James FitzMaurice FitzGerald, a cousin of the 15th Earl of Desmond, landed a small force of rebels at Dingle.
1594 The 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

Year Date Event
1607 14 September The 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 began on a large scale.
1641 22 October Irish Rebellion of 1641: Phelim O'Neill led the capture of several forts in the north of Ireland.
1642 Irish Confederate Wars: The Irish Catholic Confederation was established, under the nominal overlordship of Charles I of England, with its capital at Kilkenny.
1646 28 March The Supreme Council of the Irish Catholic Confederation signed an agreement with a representative of Charles I, which procured some rights for Catholics in return for their military support of the royalists in England.
The members of the Supreme Council were arrested. The General Assembly renounced the agreement with England.
1647 A more favorable agreement was reached with Charles's representative, which promised toleration of Catholicism, a repeal of Poynings' Law, and recognition of lands taken by Irish Catholics during the war.

18th century

Year Date Event
1740 Extreme winters in successive years result in poor harvests, causing a largescale famine in which between 310,000 and 480,000 die.
1760 February Battle of Carrickfergus: A French invasion.
1782 After agitation by the Irish Volunteers, the Parliament of Great Britain passed a number of reforms - including the repeal of Poynings' Law - collectively referred to as the Constitution of 1782.
1796 December Expédition d'Irlande: Attempted French invasion.
1798 24 May Battle of Ballymore-Eustace: A miscarried surprise attack on the British garrison at Ballymore in County Kildare was counterattacked and defeated.
22 August Irish Rebellion of 1798: One thousand French soldiers landed at Kilcummin in support of the rebellion.
27 August Battle of Castlebar: A combined French-Irish force defeated a vastly numerically superior British force at Castlebar.
Irish Rebellion of 1798: The Republic of Connacht was proclaimed at Castlebar. First United Irishmen rebellion

19th century

Year Date Event
1801 1 January Acts of Union 1800 passed. The Kingdom of Ireland is annexed to Great Britain. 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland is formed.
1803 23 July Second United Irishmen rebellion: The Irish nationalist Robert Emmet attempted to seize Dublin Castle.
1829 24 March Catholic Emancipation: The Catholic Relief Act 1829 was passed, which allowed Catholics to sit in Parliament.
1831 3 May Tithe War: A force of one hundred and twenty armed police forcibly took possession of cattle belonging to a Roman Catholic priest in lieu of his compulsory tithe to the Anglican Church of Ireland.
1834 17 December Dublin and Kingstown Railway is opened as the first commercial railway in Ireland.
1836 Tithe War: The passage of the Tithe Commutation Act 1836 reduced the amount of the tithe and changed the manner of payment, which largely ended the unrest
1845-1849 Great Irish Famine: A potato blight destroyed two-thirds of Ireland's staple crop and lead to an estimated 1 million deaths and emigration of a further 1 million people.[26]
1867 5 March Fenian Rising.

20th century

Year Date Event
1913 19 August A Dublin businessman, William Martin Murphy, fired forty workers he suspected of belonging to the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (ITGWU).
26 August Dublin Lockout: The ITGWU went on strike.
1914 18 January Dublin Lockout: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) rejected a call by the ITGWU to go on strike in their support. The strikers quit the union and returned to work.
18 September Government of Ireland Act, offering Irish Home Rule, passed but application simultaneously postponed for the duration of World War I.[27]
1916 24 April Easter Rising: The Irish Republican Brotherhood led an action which seized key government buildings in Dublin, and issued the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
29 April Easter Rising: The leader of the uprising ordered his followers to surrender.
1918 18 April Acting on a resolution of Dublin Corporation, the Lord Mayor convenes a conference at the Mansion House to devise plans to resist conscription.
14 December A general election returns a majority for Sinn Féin.
1919 21 January The 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 Army of the Irish Republic kill two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary in what is considered to be the first act of the War of Independence.
1921 3 May Northern Ireland is established.
1921 6 December Irish 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
1922 28 June Irish Civil War: Bombardment by Michael Collins of Anti-Treaty forces occupying the Four Courts marks the start of the Irish Civil War
1923 24 May Irish Civil War: IRA Chief of Staff Frank Aiken orders volunteers to dump arms - effectively ending the Civil War.
1937 29 December The Constitution of Ireland comes into force replacing the Irish Free State with a new state called "'Éire', or, in the English language, 'Ireland'"
1949 August The Republic of Ireland Act is signed by the President of Ireland abolishing the remaining roles of the British monarch in the government of the Irish state.
1955 14 December Ireland joins the United Nations along with 16 other sovereign states.
1969 August Troops are deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland, marking the start of the Troubles.
1972 March The Parliament of Northern Ireland is prorogued (and abolished the following year).
1973 1 January Ireland joins the European Community along with Britain and Denmark.
1973 June The Northern Ireland Assembly is elected.
1974 1 January A 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.
1985 15 November The governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom sign the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
1990 3 December Mary Robinson becomes the first female President of Ireland.
1995 Ireland enters the Celtic Tiger period which marks great economic growth for Ireland - which continues until 2007.
1998 April The 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.
1999 Ireland yields its official currency the Irish pound and adopts the Euro.

21st century

Year Date Event
2001 7 June The twenty-first, twenty-third and twenty-sixth Amendments to the Constitution of Ireland, which provided for a universal ban on the death penalty, Ireland's recognition of the International Criminal Court and its ratification of the Treaty of Nice, respectively, were all approved by referendum.
2008 6 May After leading a Fianna Fáil government for nearly 11 years, the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern retires - while under pressure due to corruption allegations.
2009 2 October The ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon is enabled through the passing of a second referendum on the subject.
2011 1 February An ongoing financial crisis places significant strain on the coalition government, and the 30th Dáil is dissolved.


  1. ^ Bradley, Richard (2007). The prehistory of Britain and Ireland. Cambridge University Press. p. 8.  
  2. ^ O'Brian, William (2005). Ross Island: Mining, Metal and Society in Early Ireland. Oxbow books.  
  3. ^ Johnston, Wesley; Abbot, Patrick. "Celtic Ireland in the Iron Age". History of Ireland. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Moody, T.W; Martin, F.X; Byrne, F.J, eds. (1982). A New History of Ireland VIII: A Chronology of Irish History to 1976 - A Companion to Irish History Part I. Oxford Clarendon Press.  
  5. ^ Geoffrey Keating, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn 1.42, 43, 44, 45, 46
  6. ^ Francis J. Byrne, Irish Kings and High Kings, Four Courts press, 2001, p. 65-69
  7. ^ Wikisource link to Wikisource - Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 12. Wikisource.
  8. ^ Welch, Robert (2003). The Concise Oxford Companion to Irish Literature. Oxford University Press.  
  9. ^  
  10. ^ Foster, RF (1989). The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  11. ^ Annals.  
  12. ^ Annals of Ulster - U432.  
  13. ^ R. B. Stothers (26 January 1984). "Mystery cloud of AD 536". Nature magazine. pp. 307, 344–345.  
  14. ^ Annals of Ulster - Part 105.  
  15. ^ a b Duffy, S (2005). The Concise History of Ireland. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.  
  16. ^ Annals of the Four Masters - Part 49.  
  17. ^  
  18. ^  
  19. ^ Ó Corráin, Donnchadh (1972). Ireland Before the Normans. The Gill history of Ireland. Gill and MacMillan. 
  20. ^ Wikisource link to Wikisource - Treaty of Windsor. Wikisource. "Text reads: This is the agreement which was made at Windsor in the octaves of Michaelmas [October 6] in the year of Our Lord 1175"
  21. ^ Annals of the Four Masters - Part 9.  
  22. ^ Moody, TW & Martin, FX (eds) (1967). The Course of Irish History. Cork, Ireland: The Mercier Press. p. 370. 
  23. ^ Annals of the Four Masters - Part 10.  
  24. ^ Annals of the Four Masters - Part 12.  
  25. ^ Annals of the Four Masters - Part 13.  
  26. ^ Vaughan, W.E; Fitzpatrick, A.J, eds. (1978). Irish Historical Statistics, Population, 1821/1971.  
  27. ^ Cottrell, Peter (2009). The War for Ireland, 1913-1923. Oxford: Osprey. pp. 14–15.  


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