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GEOG 151 chapter 10: outline of a brief history of ireland

Dates in Irish History

1100’s: start of British involvement in Ireland

1300’s: “The Pale” (…beyond the pale)… indicator of inability of British to fully conquer the island

1541: Henry VIII proclaims himself King of Ireland, forbids the practice of Catholicism in British lands

1609: “Plantation settlement" in the northern area of the island - mostly Scots, all Protestant

1641: First Catholic “diaspora” to west of island and to West Indies, and seizure of Catholic land

1688:  Apprentice boys protest in Ulster

1690: James (Ireland) defeated by William (England)

1691: Treaty of Limerick …Ireland “lost”

1695… imposition of Penal Laws… Catholics cannot bear arms, obtain a high school education, vote, become lawyers or hold office

Later 1700s: Relief Acts restore some Catholic rights, but are often not enforced

1791: Society of United Irishmen (Wolfe Tone) formed, numerous insurrections follow, results in Act of Union of 1800 (dissolution of Irish parliament)

Early 1800s: Catholic “emancipation”… Catholics (theoretically) can become MPs… “Monster Meetings” (rallies) to repeal Act of Union

1838:  “Poor Laws” passed… as bad or worse than Penal Laws, many Irish in "workhouses"

1845: first severe year of Great Famine, 1847 and 1848 even worse (in part owing to the by then malnourished state many Irish were in)

1858: rise of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, but rebellion crushed

1892: Ulster convention opposing Home Rule (and eventual self-rule, "Sinn Fein" - “Ourselves Alone”)

Early 1900s: formation of Sinn Fein (republican political party), Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF - loyalists) and the Irish Republican Army (IRA - republican) from roots in the Society of United Irishmen, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and the National Volunteers… The IRA was closely tied to Sinn Fein political until 1980s when Sinn Fein disavowed any relationship to the IRA or its factions (Sinn Fein was under threat that the party would be banned from government in the North)

1916: Easter Uprising… resulted in executions of most of rebellion leaders and turned public opinion in the south against the British

1920: Black & Tan “army”  organized, many recruited from UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) and other loyal Protestant groups… IRA retaliates against British by abducting and killing 14 police and military personnel; British retaliate by allowing Black & Tans to machine-gun a crowded football match in Dublin… “Bloody Sunday” (Note - I think I said in class this occurred the same year as the Easter Uprising - it was actually several years later, not several weeks...)

1921: peace negotiations result in compromise forming Free State of Ireland in the 26 southern counties and keeping 6 northern counties under British rule… many Irish considered this to be a sell-out, not a victory, and civil war erupted in Ireland in 1922, lasting into 1923

Mid-1900s: Depression quells most in-fighting

1937: Irish constitution revised, including claim to Northern Ireland, and deletes all references to the Crown and relationships with England

1939: IRA attacks in England overlooked as England, Northern Ireland drawn into WWII… the Republic remained neutral and is criticized for it by Churchill after the war

1949: Ireland declares itself independent of the United Kingdom, but reverses the earlier constitutional stance on claim to the north, stating instead that the north should only become part of the republic by consent

1950s-1960s: periodic but relatively rare violence between the sides

Late 1960s: increasing tension between the Protestants and Catholics as Catholics in the north experience continuing discrimination… Ulster Volunteer Force formed, and targets suspected members of IRA

1968:  Rioting in Derry, Belfast… proposed reforms for Catholics regarding housing, education and voting upset Protestants

1969: Republican march from Belfast to Derry attacked by loyalists, first deaths occur by mid-July…  Apprentice Boys March (sponsored by the Orange Order) erupts in violence in Derry, and “Peace Line” constructed in Belfast, effectively separating Catholic and Protestant parts of city

1970s: continued violence throughout the decade, the core period of “The Troubles”… bombings, shootings abound on both sides in Northern Ireland, Ireland and in England, although most of the violence occurs in Northern Ireland… several hundred people killed during the decade

     NOTE: first attempt at peace negotiations, the Sunningdale Agreement, virtually ignored

1980s: Violence continues… Anglo-Irish Agreement negotiated, but violence intensifies

1988: killing of three IRA officers by British undercover agents, sparks retaliation by both sides

     NOTE: Anglo-Irish peace talks abandoned

1990s: talks renewed in 1991, ended in violence by mid-year… the Mitchell talks begin in 1995 and result in the 1998 Easter Agreement (also known as the “Good Friday Accord”)

1996: an especially bloody year, after the Apprentice Boys March in Portadown… a flash point in Protestant-Catholic relations until the reformed police refused to allow the march to take place in 2000

1998: Good Friday Agreement

     NOTE: Several other incidents have taken place since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, but the violence in Northern Ireland has declined to a level less than what it was even before the beginning of The Troubles.  The current power-sharing government is working, and the IRA is – albeit reluctantly – giving up its arms.  There are still hard-liners on each side, and therefore there is likely to be problems from time to time in the foreseeable future… but, at least at the moment, it appears that Northern Ireland may be entering an era of peace.




Image from ABC News/Australia