Although it is part of the British Isles, Ireland developed its own distinctive culture, which became apparent in the Celtic Church missions which competed with the Roman Church to convert the Anglo-Saxon pagans. Ireland was gradually drawn closer to the British orbit during the Viking age. Even then, it remained separate and different from its British neighbours, especially after the Norman Conquest of England. However, as the Popes set about controlling deviant versions of the Christian faith and Norman lords cast around for new land to conquer, Ireland’s separation from European interference was doomed.
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1155 Pope Adrian IV allegedly issues the bull Laudabiliter, which grants King Henry II of England the right to take over and govern Ireland and impose the Gregorian Reforms on the autonomous Irish Church.
1169 Dermot MacMurragh seeks Norman help to recover his kingdom of Leinster.
1171 A Norman force raised in Wales and the Welsh Marches under leadership of Richard ‘Strongbow’ de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, takes Waterford, Wexford and Dublin.
1172 Henry II lands with a large army to impose his authority over Strongbow (now king of Leinster in right of his wife Aoife) and other Irish rulers.
1175 The Treaty of Windsor. Henry II claimed feudal overlordship of the conquered areas of Ireland with Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair (Rory O’Connor) High King of the rest of Ireland swearing fealty to Henry as Lord of Ireland.
1177 Henry declares his son John aged 10 as Lord of Ireland (the Norman conquered parts). From this time, Ireland was loosely governed by the English crown, with the Anglo-Norman ruling class becoming ever more closely affiliated with their Irish associates. Irish chiefs maintained varying degrees of autonomy and complete royal control was often only exercised in a small area around Dublin known as the Pale.
1494 Poynings Law. Any law passed by the Irish Parliament requires prior approval of the King, and any law passed in England automatically applied to Ireland. It reasserts England’s claims of primacy over the governance of Ireland.
1541 King Henry VIII declares himself King of Ireland and head of the Irish Church. Measures are taken to bring Ireland fully under royal control and attempts are made to plant English settlers in troublesome parts of Ireland.
1593-1603 The Nine Years war ends with the English conquest of all Ireland.
1607 Having led a final failed rebellion, the two leading northern Irish earls, Tyrone and Tyrconnell, quit Ireland. An official programme of Anglo-Scottish Protestant plantations or colonisation soon begins on the earls’ lands in Gaelic and Catholic Ulster.
1641 Civil Wars break out in Britain and Irish Catholics take the opportunity to seek independence from British control. The struggle becomes an ethnic war between the Irish Catholic Confederation in loose alliance with royalist sympathisers against British Protestant colonists.
1649-53 The royalist/Catholic alliance is destroyed by Cromwell’s New Model Army. Many are sold into servitude in the colonies and their lands are distributed to British parliamentary supporters. The Protestant Ascendancy is established.
1690 Battle of the Boyne. William III of Orange defeats his deposed opponent, the Catholic James II and his supporters in Ireland.
1798 Wolfe Tone leads the United Irishmen in a failed attempt to establish non-secular Irish Independence with help from a significant but poorly executed French invasion.
1800 The Act of Union integrates Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
1845-8 The Irish Potato Famine. The population is decimated by hunger and emigration as the staple potato crop fails due to disease. British government relief measures are limited and/or poorly executed.
1858 The Irish Republican Brotherhood, also known as the Fenians, a secret, oath-bound organisation for Irish independence with strong connection to Irish- America, is founded.
1886 William Gladstone and Irish parliamentary leader Charles Stewart Parnell fail to secure the passage of the First Home Rule for Ireland Bill.
1893 The Second Home Rule Bill is rejected by the House of Lords.
1912 The Third Home Rule Bill is introduced. The Ulster Solemn League and Covenant is signed by hundreds of thousands of Protestant opponents to Home Rule in Ireland.
1913 The Ulster Volunteers are formed as a Unionist militia. In response, the Irish Volunteers are created as an Irish national military force.
1914 Army officers in Ireland declare reluctance to perform military duties against Unionists.
The Government of Ireland Act granting Home Rule is passed, but is held in suspension until the end of the war with Germany which has just begun.
1916 The Easter Rising in Dublin tries to create an Irish rebellion. It is put down but harsh measures against participants and suspects foments Irish nationalism.
1920 Home Rule is established in the six counties of Ulster, which remain part of the United Kingdom, but Sinn Fein MPS set up the Dáil, an ‘independent Irish parliament’, in Dublin and a low grade state of hostilities exists between the pro-British unionists and supporters of Irish independence.
1921 The Anglo-Irish Treaty establishes the remaining 26 counties as The Irish Free State, a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth, with a provisional government led by Michael Collins. The Royal Navy retains use of three Treaty Ports in the Free State. Eamon de Valera leads opposition to the treaty.
1922-3 The Irish Civil War between government forces and the Irish Republican Army in support of a united island of Ireland. Collins is assassinated, but the IRA is forced to accept the ‘divided island’ situation.
1937 De Valera introduces a new constitution by which the Free State becomes known as Eire or Ireland and lays claim to the six counties. It identifies Catholicism as the semi state religion and severs all connection to the British crown.
1938 The Treaty Ports are relinquished. Eire retains strict neutrality during WWII.
1949 Ireland becomes a republic and leaves the Commonwealth.