By Tim Lambert


C. 7,500 B.C. The first humans arrive in Ireland. They live by hunting, fishing and gathering plants.

C. 4,000 B.C. The first farmers arrive in Ireland

C. 2,000 B.C Bronze is introduced into Ireland

C. 500 B.C. The Celts arrive in Ireland. They bring iron tools and weapons.

C. 150 A.D. Ptolemy writes the first detailed description of Ireland

367 A.D. The Irish join with the Scots and Picts to raid Roman Britain

C. 400 The first Christians in Ireland

432 According to tradition, St Patrick arrives in Ireland

C. 454 St Brigid is born

461 St Patrick dies

C. 480 St Ita is born

484 St Brendan is born

525 St Brigid dies

543 St Columbanus is born

570 St Ita dies

577 St Brendan dies

C. 600 St Aidan is born

615 St Columbanus dies

651 St Aidan dies

795 The Vikings begin raiding Ireland

841 The Vikings found Dublin

922 The Vikings found Limerick

976 Brian Boru becomes King of Munster

1002 Brian Boru becomes High King of Ireland

1014 The battle of Clontarf. The Irish defeat the Vikings but Brian Boru is killed.

1094 St Malachy is born


1148 St Malachy dies

1155 Pope Adrian IV (actually an Englishman called Nicholas Breakspear) grants the English king the right to invade Ireland to sort out the Irish Church


Rory O'Connor becomes High King of Ireland

Dermait MacMurrough, King of Leinster, is deposed


Dermait returns to Ireland. While away he sought help form English barons. Richard de Clare (known as Strongbow) agreed to lead an army to restore Dermait to his throne on the understanding that he will marry Dermait's daughter and become king of Leinster when Dermait dies.

1169 The first English soldiers arrive in Ireland and capture Wexford


Strongbow brings more soldiers. They capture Waterford and Dublin.


Dermait dies

Alarmed at the prospect of Strongbow forming his own independent kingdom in Leinster the English king Henry II leads an army to Waterford. Strongbow submits to the king and is rewarded by being made Lord of Leinster.


The Treaty of Windsor is made between King Henry II and Rory O'Connor the High King of Ireland. King Henry agrees to let Rory rule all Ireland outside Leinster, Meath and Waterford. In return Rory submits to Henry as his overlord.


John de Courcy conquers the eastern part of Ulster

The English capture Cork

King Henry makes his son John Lord of Ireland

1185 Prince John visits Ireland for the first time

C. 1192-1250 The English extend their rule to parts of western Ireland

1194 The English capture Limerick

1197 Limerick is granted a charter

1210 Fearing the English lords in Ireland are getting out of hand King John leads an expedition to Ireland to force them to submit.

1226-1235 Richard de Clare conquers Connacht

C. 1250-1350

The English king's hold on Ireland weakens. English landowners are gradually absorbed into Irish society, partly through intermarriage. Furthermore there are frequent wars between the Anglo-Irish and the native Irish. The native Irish gradually take back territory.

1315 The Scots under Robert the Bruce's brother Edward Bruce invade Ireland to open up a second front in their war with the English.

1318 Edward Bruce is killed


Fearing that Ireland will be lost completely the English King Edward III sends an expedition under his son Lionel to subdue Ireland. However the expedition fails.


The Statute of Kilkenny. This is an attempt to separate the Anglo-Irish and the Irish to prevent the Anglo-Irish losing their 'Englishness'. They are forbidden to intermarry. All Englishmen are commanded to speak English only and are forbidden to play Irish games. However the statutes have little effect.

1394 King Richard II leads an army to subdue Ireland. The Irish submit but rebel once he leaves

1399 Richard II returns but this time he fails to subdue the Irish


The English lose control of Ireland except for Dublin and the surrounding area known as the Pale

1495 Poynings law states that the Irish parliament cannot meet without the English king's permission and can only pass laws approved by the king and his council



The Irish parliament makes Henry VIII head of the Church of Ireland. However the Reformation makes little progress in Ireland.


King Henry VIII is determined to reassert his authority over Ireland. He changes his title from Lord of Ireland to king. The Irish parliament assents.


Queen Mary sends English people to settle land confiscated from Irish rebels in Laois and Offaly. Mary is the first monarch to successfully 'plant' English settlers in Ireland.

1579-1583 A rebellion is led by the Earl of Desmond

1586 onwards

Queen Elizabeth sends English people to settle lands confiscated from the Irish rebels in Munster

1593-1603 The Nine Years War


1607 The flight of the Earls takes place. Many prominent men leave Ireland. Afterwards their lands in Ulster are confiscated.


Cahir O'Doherty rebels and sacks Derry. The rebellion is crushed and yet more land is confiscated. The British government plans to settle large numbers of Scots and English on the confiscated lands to create a loyal population.

1610 The first Protestant settlers arrive

1613 A new town is created at Derry (called Londonderry). It receives its charter this year.

1629 St Oliver Plunkett is born

1632 Thomas Wentworth (also known as Black Tom Tyrant) is made Lord Deputy of Ireland

1641 The Irish in Ulster rise in rebellion and kill Protestant settlers


The Irish form an alliance called the Confederation of Kilkenny

Civil war begins in England. The king is preoccupied with the civil war and cannot divert many troops to Ireland. Nevertheless royalist troops under the Marquis of Ormond continue to fight the rebels.

The Scots also send an army to Ulster to protect the Scottish settlers.

1643 In September Ormond makes a truce with the Confederates to last for one year

1644 The king tells Ormond to make a permanent peace with the confederates

1646 The first Ormond peace. Ormond makes a peace treaty with the Confederates. However not all the Irish accept the treaty.

1647 Parliament sends troops to seize Dublin


Following the execution of the king in January the royalists in Ireland rally. Ormond captures Drogheda and Dundalk. He lays siege to Dublin but is severely defeated at Rathmines.

Cromwell leads an army to Ireland. He lays siege to Drogheda. When he captures the town townspeople are massacred and the town is plundered.

Cromwell's men capture Wexford where he carries out another massacre.

1650 Cromwell leaves Ireland. His Son-in-law Henry Ireton takes over.


Cromwell decides to confiscate land held by Irish Catholics. Those landowners who can prove they did not take part in the rebellion of 1641 will be given new (less fertile) land west of the Shannon.

1660 Charles II becomes king


The Act of Settlement raises hopes that King Charles will return confiscated land in Ireland to the original owners. However Charles shrinks from this policy fearing a Protestant backlash.


The Act of Explanation forces most of the men granted land by Cromwell to hand over one third of it to compensate Catholics who did not participate in the 1641 rebellion but still had their land confiscated.

1681 Oliver Plunkett is executed

1688 The Catholic king James II flees from England. William of Orange is invited by parliament to replace him.

1689 James II lands in Kinsale. The siege of Derry takes place.


The battle of the Boyne. James II is defeated.


The battle of Aughrim. The army of James II is defeated.

The siege of Limerick, the last part of Ireland to hold out for James II


1711 The Linen Board is formed in Dublin. During the 18th century there is a huge growth of the linen industry in Northern Ireland.

1719 Protestant dissenters are officially allowed to practice their religion. (Although there are still some restrictions on them).

1727 Ireland is struck by famine

1740-1741 A severe famine affects Ireland. About 400,000 people die.

1759 Guinness is brewed for the first time

C. 1760 onward Landowners enclose common land for grazing cattle. Men called White Boys (because they wear white shirts or smocks to disguise themselves) destroy fences and attack cattle.

1770s Protestants form secret societies, the Oak boys and the Steel boys to protest about rents and rates


A Catholic Relief Act allows Catholics to lease land for 999 years. They are also allowed to leave their land to single heir.

1780 Protestant dissenters are allowed to hold Public office.

1782 Catholics are allowed to buy land. Most restrictions on Catholic education and the Catholic clergy are removed.

Poynings Law is repealed.

1783 The Bank of Ireland opens

1791 The Society of United Irishmen is formed

1792 Catholics are allowed to practice as lawyers. Catholics are allowed to marry Protestants.

1795 The battle of the Diamond between 2 secret societies, the Catholic Defenders and the Protestant Peep O' Day boys. The Defenders are severely defeated.

1798 The Society of United Irishmen rebel but the rebellion is crushed at the battle of Vinegar Hill in June. Wolfe Tone commits suicide after being captured.


1800 The Act of Union joins England and Ireland (the act comes into effect in 1801)

1803 Robert Emmet's rising in Dublin. The rising is crushed and Emmet is executed.

1807 Famine in Ireland

1817 Famine and typhus in Ireland

1820s Agrarian unrest is led by a secret society called the Ribbonmen

1821-1822 Famine strikes Ireland again

1823 Daniel O'Connell founds the Catholic Association

1829 The Catholic Emancipation Act allows Catholics to enter parliament and to hold public office

1830-1834 Famine stalks Ireland again

1832 Cholera epidemic in Irish towns

1836 Famine strikes again

1838 Tithes (a tax of 1 tenth on farm produce paid to the Church of Ireland) are reduced by 25%

1840 Young Ireland is founded

1843 The first railway in Ireland from Dublin to Kingstown opens

1841 The population of Ireland is 8,175,000


The potato blight causes a potato famine. Perhaps 1 million people die. Many more emigrate. The population of Ireland falls dramatically. The famine is at its worst in the West and Southwest of Ireland.


The Treason-Felony Act is passed

William O'Brien (1803-1864) attempts a rebellion known as 'the battle of the Widow McCormack's cabbage patch' in County Tipperary. He is later sentenced to transportation.

1848-1850 Cholera epidemics strike

1850 The Irish Franchise Act greatly increases the number of people allowed to vote

1851 The population of Ireland has fallen to 6,552,000


The Catholic University of Ireland opens

Oscar Wilde is born

1858 The Irish Republican Brotherhood is formed

1867 Fenian rising

1869 The Church of Ireland is disestablished


Gladstone's Land Act gives tenant farmers the right to compensation if they have made improvements to the land

The Home Government Association is formed

1873 It is replaced by the Home Rule League

1879 The Irish National Land League is formed. It demands the 'three f's', fair rent, fixity of tenure and free sale of land.


A new verb enters the language 'to boycott'. Charles Stewart Parnell, the leader of the Land League declares that if a tenant is evicted and somebody else takes over the land that person is to be ostracized. The first person so treated is a Captain Boycott.


The Land Law Act grants the '3 f's'. The Land Commission is formed to fix rent and to give loans to purchase land.

Parnell is imprisoned


James Joyce is born

Parnell is released


The franchise is extended again

The Gaelic Athletic Association is founded

1885 Under the Ashbourne Act loans are given to tenant farmers to buy their land. The loans are to be repaid at low rates of interest

1886 The first Home Rule bill is rejected by the British parliament


Michael Collins is born

Oscar Wilde publishes The Picture of Dorian Gray

Parnell is named as co-respondent in a divorce case

1891 Another Land Act makes more money available to tenant farmers to buy land


The Gaelic League is founded

The second Home Rule bill is passed by the British House of Commons but is rejected by the House of Lords

Another Land Act makes it easier for tenant farmers to borrow money to buy their land

1898 The Irish Local Government Act gives Ireland local government similar to the English system


1900 Oscar Wilde dies

1903 A final Land Act makes it still easier for tenant farmers to obtain loans and buy their land. As a result millions of acres change hands by 1921

1905 Sinn Fein is founded

1909 The Irish Transport and General Workers Union is founded


The Ulster Volunteer Force is founded

Tram strike in Dublin

A third Home Rule bill is passed by the British parliament. However the act is put on hold in September because of the outbreak of the First World War.


The Easter Rising

James Joyce publishes A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man


The Irish Volunteers are renamed the Irish Republican Army

A number of Sinn Fein MPs were elected to the British parliament in December 1918. However they refuse to take their seats. Instead they form their own parliament in Dublin called the Dail Eireann. Eamon de Valera is elected president of the Dail.

1919-1921 The War of Independence. The IRA fights a guerrilla war against the British.


Ireland is partitioned. The Government of Ireland Act forms 2 parliaments in Ireland. One in the North and one in the South. Both are to have their own prime minister. However both are to be subordinate to the British parliament.

The 'Black and Tans' are formed to reinforce the Royal Irish Constabulary


The Northern parliament meets for the first time. Sinn Fein win almost all the seats for the Southern parliament but they refuse to take their seats. Instead they carry on meeting in the Dail Eireann.

A truce is made between the IRA and the British

An Anglo-Irish treaty partitions Ireland


The Dail agrees to the treaty but civil war begins between those who accept the treaty and those who don't

Michael Collins is killed

The Garda Siochana is formed

James Joyce publishes Ulysses


The civil war ends

A Censorship of Films Act is passed

William Butler Yeats wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

1925 George Bernard Shaw wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

1926 Fianna Fail is founded

1929 The Shannon hydro-electricity scheme is finished

1932-1937 Eamon De Valera is Prime Minister


The IRA is banned in the Irish Free State

Aer Lingus is founded


A new constitution comes into force. The Irish Free State becomes Eire. Douglas Hyde is the first president.

1937-1948 de Valera is Taoiseach

1939 James Joyce publishes Finnegans Wake


A German air raid kills 34 people in Dublin

James Joyce dies

1949 The Republic of Ireland Act makes Eire a republic

1951-1954 de Valera is Taoiseach again

1955 Ireland joins the United Nations

1957-1959 de Valera is Taoiseach for the 3rd time

1959-1973 de Valera is President

1961 RTE begins broadcasting

1969 Beginning of 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland

1972 'Bloody Sunday' in Derry. Fourteen people are killed when the British 1st Parachute Regiment opens fire on demonstrators.

Gaelic Radio begins


Ireland joins the EEC (forerunner of the EU)

1974 The sale of contraceptives to married people is legalised

1982 Corporal punishment ends in Irish schools

1985 The Anglo-Irish agreement

1990-1997 Mary Robinson is President of Ireland

1990s Ireland experiences rapid economic growth. It is called the Celtic Tiger.

1994 There is a ceasefire in Northern Ireland


Seamus Heaney wins the Nobel prize for Literature

The Irish people vote in a referendum to allow divorce

1996 Gaelic T.V. begins

1997 Mary McAleese becomes President

1998 The Good Friday Agreement is signed

1999 Ireland unwisely joins the Euro


2004 In a referendum the Irish people vote to stop automatically granting citizenship to anyone born in the country.


Cork is made European Capital of Culture.

The EU recognises Irish as a working language.

A timeline of Belfast

A timeline of Cork

A timeline of Dublin

A timeline of Galway

A timeline of Limerick