Timeline of Irish history

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 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

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 BCMesolithic 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 BCBronze 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 BCLa 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 (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 ADPtolemy'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. 400Niall 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)
431Palladius is sent as the first bishop "to the Irish believing in Christ" by Pope Celestine I[11][12]
432According 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

830Óengus 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]
988–989Máel 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 NovemberGreat 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 MayEdward Bruce arrives in Ireland and rallies many Irish lords against Anglo-Norman control.
1366The Statutes of Kilkenny are passed at Kilkenny to curb the decline of the Hiberno-Norman Lordship of Ireland.
1398Gerald 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 DecemberEdward Poyning, Henry VII of England's Lord Deputy to Ireland, issues a declaration known as 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 JuneThomas FitzGerald, the 10th Earl of Kildare, publicly renounces his allegiance to Henry VIII of England.
15373 FebruaryFitzGerald 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 FebruaryPope 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" (May 1 to August 1), 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 JulySecond Desmond Rebellion: James FitzMaurice FitzGerald, a cousin of the 15th 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.
1609Plantation of Ulster by Scottish Presbyterians begins on a large scale.
164122 OctoberIrish Rebellion of 1641: Phelim O'Neill leads the capture of several forts in the north of Ireland.
1642Irish 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 JulyBattle of the Boyne

18th century

1740Extreme winters in successive years result in poor harvests, causing a large scale famine in which between 300,000 and 480,000 die.
1760FebruaryBattle of Carrickfergus: A French invasion.
1782After agitation by the Irish Volunteers, the Parliament of Great Britain passes a number of reforms—including the repeal of Poynings' Law—collectively referred to as the Constitution of 1782.
1796DecemberExpédition d'Irlande: Attempted French invasion.
179824 MayBattle of Ballymore-Eustace: A miscarried surprise attack on the British garrison at Ballymore in County Kildare is counterattacked and defeated.
22 AugustIrish Rebellion of 1798: One thousand French soldiers land at Kilcummin in support of the rebellion.
27 AugustBattle 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 JanuaryActs 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 MarchCatholic Emancipation: The Catholic Relief Act 1829 is passed, allowing Catholics to sit in the UK Parliament.
18313 MayTithe 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 DecemberDublin 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.
1845–1849Great 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 MarchFenian Rising.
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 SeptemberGovernment 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 AprilEaster 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 JanuaryIrish 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 MayNorthern 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 JuneIrish 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.
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"
1949AugustThe 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.
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 Britain 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 DecemberMary 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.[29]


  1. Bradley, Richard (2007). The prehistory of Britain and Ireland. Cambridge University Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-521-84811-4.
  2. "Bear bone opens new chapter in Ireland's archaeology". Irish Times. 21 March 2016. Archived from the original on 26 April 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  3. O'Brian, William (2005). Ross Island: Mining, Metal and Society in Early Ireland. Oxbow books. ISBN 978-0-9535620-3-9.
  4. Johnston, Wesley; Abbot, Patrick. "Celtic Ireland in the Iron Age". History of Ireland. WesleyJohnston.com. Archived from the original on 12 November 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
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  6. Geoffrey Keating, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn 1.42 Archived 2014-03-23 at the Wayback Machine, 43 Archived 2012-10-15 at the Wayback Machine, 44 Archived 2012-10-15 at the Wayback Machine, 45, 46 Archived 2013-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Francis J. Byrne, Irish Kings and High Kings, Four Courts press, 2001, p. 65-69
  8. Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1887). "Cormac Mac Art" . Dictionary of National Biography. 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  9. Welch, Robert (2003). The Concise Oxford Companion to Irish Literature. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780192800800.
  10. Charles-Edwards, Thomas M (2000). Early Christian Ireland. Cambridge University Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-0521037167.
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  12. Annals. Annals of Ulster and Annals of the Four Masters. Palladius, having been consecrated by Celestine, bishop of the city of Rome, is sent to Ireland [...] in the eighth year of Theodosius.
  13. Annals of Ulster - U432. Annals of Ulster. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012. Year U432: Patrick arrived in Ireland in the ninth year of the reign of Theodosius the Less and in the first year of the episcopate of Xistus, 42nd bishop of the Roman Church. So Bede, Maxcellinus and Isidore compute in their chronicles.
  14. R. B. Stothers (26 January 1984). "Mystery cloud of AD 536". Nature. 307 (5949): 344–345. doi:10.1038/307344a0.
  15. Annals of Ulster - Part 105. Annals of Ulster. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012. U536.3 Failure of bread
  16. Duffy, S (2005). The Concise History of Ireland. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan. ISBN 9780717138104.
  17. Annals of the Four Masters - Part 49. Annals of the Four Masters. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
  18. Weston Joyce, Patrick (1903). Medicine and Medical Doctors. Longmans. Archived from the original on 1 August 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  19. Ó Corráin, Donnchadh. "Vikings & Ireland" (PDF). Cork, Ireland: University College Cork. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. Ó Corráin, Donnchadh (1972). Ireland Before the Normans. The Gill history of Ireland. Gill and MacMillan.
  21. Wikisource - Treaty of Windsor via 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
  22. Annals of the Four Masters – Part 9. Annals of the Four Masters. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012. Great heat and drought prevailed in this Summer, so that people crossed the beds of the principal rivers of Ireland with dry feet. The reaping of the corn crops of Ireland was going on twenty days before Lammas 1 August, and the trees were scorched by the heat of the sun.
  23. Moody, TW; Martin, FX, eds. (1967). The Course of Irish History. Cork, Ireland: The Mercier Press. p. 370.
  24. Annals of the Four Masters - Part 10. Annals of the Four Masters. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012. A wonderful animal was sent to Ireland by the King of England. She resembled a mare, and was of a yellow colour, with the hoofs, of a cow, a long neck, a very large head, a large tail, which was ugly and scant of hair. She had a saddle of her own. Wheat and salt were her usual food. She used to draw the largest sled-burden by her tail. She used to kneel when passing under any doorway, however high, and also to let her rider mount.
  25. Annals of the Four Masters - Part 12. Annals of the Four Masters. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012. There was an earthquake at Sliabh Gamh, by which a hundred persons were destroyed, among whom was the son of Manus Crossagh O'Hara. Many horses and cows were also killed by it, and much putrid fish was thrown up; and a lake, in which fish is now caught, sprang up in the place.
  26. Annals of the Four Masters - Part 13. Annals of the Four Masters. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012. Great famine prevailed through all Ireland in this and the following year, so that people ate of food unbecoming to mention, and never before heard of as having been introduced on human dishes.
  27. Vaughan, W.E; Fitzpatrick, A.J, eds. (1978). Irish Historical Statistics, Population, 1821/1971. Royal Irish Academy. ISBN 978-0901714107.
  28. Cottrell, Peter (2009). The War for Ireland, 1913-1923. Oxford: Osprey. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-1-84603-9966.
  29. "Ireland becomes first country to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote". Irish Times. 24 May 2015. Archived from the original on 20 August 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
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