100 years ago, a succession of events unfolded across a ten-year period that would redefine the island of Ireland and its people forever.

1912

The Ulster Covenant

On Ulster Day, September 28th 1912, almost 500,000 people signed the Ulster Covenant and Belfast City Hall served as one of the venues for the signing. They pledged to defend 'for ourselves and our children our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom' and to resist the implementation of a Home Rule parliament in Ireland.

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1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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PRONI

29 Jul 1911

Carson opposes Home Rule

Sir Edward Carson, the political and spiritual leader of Irish Unionism between 1910–21, indicates his militant stand for the maintenance of the Union between Britain and Ireland in a private letter to the Ulster Unionist Sir James Craig:

“I am not for a mere game of bluff, and, unless Ulster men are prepared to make great sacrifices which they clearly understand, the talk of resistance is no use.”

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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08 Feb 1912

Churchill supports Home Rule

Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty in H.H. Asquith’s Liberal government, addresses a meeting held in Belfast’s Celtic Park in support of Home Rule for Ireland. Due to loyalist demonstrations and increasing tensions in the city, Churchill (who was denied the use of the Ulster Hall for his address) was forced to undertake a circuitous route back to his ferry at Larne.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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National Portrait Gallery, London

09 Apr 1912

Easter Unionist gathering

On Easter Tuesday, a mass Unionist gathering is held at the Balmoral Showgrounds, Belfast. The new Conservative leader, Andrew Bonar Law, addresses the meeting and pledges unconditional support for Ulster Unionist resistance to Home Rule. Over 100,000 men march past Bonar Law’s platform in an imposing display of unionist strength.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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National Portrait Gallery, London

11 Apr 1912

New Home Rule Bill

Two days after the unionist demonstration at Balmoral, a Home Rule Bill is presented to the House of Commons by Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert H. Asquith. It is the third attempt by a Liberal government to introduce Home Rule for Ireland since 1886.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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via Wikimedia Commons.

11 Jun 1912

Ulster Excluded

Liberal MP, Thomas Agar-Robartes, proposes an amendment to exclude the northern Protestant-majority counties of Antrim, Armagh, Derry, and Down from Home Rule Bill, the first formal parliamentary proposal to exclude part of Ulster. The motion is defeated, but causes anxiety among northern nationalists.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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PRONI.

28 Sep 1912

Ulster Day

Unionists declare this day ‘Ulster Day’. Edward Carson addresses a religious service in the Ulster Hall (similar services are held throughout the province) before walking to Belfast City Hall, where he signed the Solemn League and Covenant. Those who signed the Covenant, which drew its name from the 1643 treaty signed by Scottish Presbyterians and English parliamentarians, pledged to oppose Home Rule by ‘all means which may be found necessary’. In total, 237,368 men signed the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant and 234,046 women signed the corresponding Women’s Declaration.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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PRONI.

28 Sep 1912

Leading by example

Sir Edward Carson is the first to sign the Covenant in the entrance of Belfast City Hall. The signing takes place in front of a flag said to have been carried by King William III’s troops at the Battle of the Boyne and on a round table draped in the Union Flag.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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PRONI.

28 Sep 1912

The Crawford myth

It has been claimed that many signed the Covenant in their own blood, particularly Frederick Hugh Crawford. Tests conducted in 2012 make it highly unlikely that Crawford signed the Covenant in his own blood, casting doubt on whether anyone else had. It has been suggested, however, that signing the Covenant ‘in blood’ was meant metaphorically and not literally.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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28 Sep 1912

Crowds line the streets of Belfast

Watch this video from Ulster Day as Belfast became thronged with people declaring their opposition to Home Rule and see Edward Carson signing the Ulster Covenant. In total, almost half a million men and women would sign the Covenant and Declaration, pledging to oppose Home Rule by "all means which may be found necessary".

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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via Wikimedia Commons.

31 Jan 1913

Ulster Volunteer Force

The Ulster Unionist Council formally establishes the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) to oppose Home Rule, by force if necessary. Later in the year the Irish Volunteers, a rival nationalist militia is formed.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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23 Sep 1913

Ulster Provisional Government

The Ulster Unionist Council endorses the Proclamation of a Provisional Government for Ulster, planned to take effect as soon as the Home Rule Bill becomes law.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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09 Mar 1914

Carson says No

Edward Carson rejects Asquith’s proposal for Ulster counties to opt out of Home Rule for 6 years.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress), Public domain.

20 Mar 1914

The Curragh Incident

The Curragh Incident or ‘mutiny’ takes place, as senior British military officers including Sir Anthony Paget (left) refuse to deploy the British Army against Ulster loyalists.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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National Library of Ireland.

24 Apr 1914

Unionist gunrunning operations

The UVF, under the organisation of Frederick Hugh Crawford and Wilfrid Spender, stage a massive gunrunning operation in Larne, Donaghadee and Bangor. Approximately 20,000 rifles and 3 million rounds of ammunition are smuggled from Germany.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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25 May 1914

Home Rule Bill passed

An unamended Home Rule Bill passes its third and final reading in the House of Commons with no agreement over Ulster.

1912

Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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Illustrated London News (London, England), 25 July 1914.

21 Jul 1914

Buckingham Palace conference

At the king’s request, a conference of all parties is held at Buckingham Palace to resolve the ‘Irish Question’, bringing together the leaders of the unionist and nationalist parties together for the first time. The conference fails, amidst rising tensions in Europe.

1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

The Dublin Lock-Out was a major industrial dispute between 20,000 workers and 300 employers, marking a watershed in Irish labour history.

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1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

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26 Apr 1907

Belfast on strike

In the spring of 1907 James Larkin, of the National Union of Dock Labourers, helps to organise dock workers in Belfast. Employers lock out union members and precipitate a bitter strike, which lasts until November. During the strike there is sectarian violence, anti-sectarian actions by workers and the police mutiny in Belfast while British Army troops are deployed to quell unrest. James Sexton, the leader of the National Union of Dock Labourers, settles the strike without consulting Jim Larkin, causing Larkin to feel dissatisfied at the role of British trade unions in Ireland.

1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

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01 Jan 1911

Larkin mobilises workers

After moving to Dublin, Larkin starts to organise semi-skilled and unskilled workers within the city. His combination of strident trade unionism, passion for his members and organisational skill spawns a new description for his strategy: ‘Larkinism’. Employers across Ireland become increasingly alarmed at this new form of trade unionism.

1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

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01 Jul 1911

Larkin draws huge support

Jim Larkin addresses a rally as thousands turn out to hear from the popular trade unionist.

1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

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28 Jun 1912

Irish Labour Party

Larkin combines forces with James Connolly, another important figure in the workers' movement of the time, and who became the ITGWU’s Belfast organiser in 1911. Together they help to form the Irish Labour Party in 1912.

1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

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26 Aug 1913

Dublin Lock-Out begins

Dublin’s leading employer, William Martin Murphy, sacks 100 tramway workers because of their membership with the ITGWU. Larkin and the ITGWU decide to withdraw their labour in protest and force the Dublin employers to recognise their employees’ membership of the ITGWU. Approximately 20,000 workers go on strike against 300 employers. The ‘Lockout’ lasts until early 1914.

1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

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31 Aug 1913

Larkin's Address

Larkin, wearing make-up and disguise, addresses a rally from a balcony of the Imperial Hotel on O’Connell Street. Larkin was arrested and the police stormed the crowd, killing two people. This becomes the most notorious day of the Lock-Out.

1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

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19 Nov 1913

Irish Citizen Army

James Larkin, James Connolly and Jack White form the Irish Citizen Army to defend workers' demonstrations from the police.

1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

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01 Jan 1914

Strike reaches the end

The Dublin Lock-Out comes to an end when ITGWU members are forced back to work to avoid starvation. Many also agree to sign pledges not to join the ITGWU. The ITGWU is badly damaged, but not defeated. A dispirited Larkin departs for America later that year.

1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

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30 Jan 1914

Larkin vows to continue

After his union ran out of money and men were forced to return to work on employers terms, Larkin famously said:

“We are beaten, we will make no bones about it, but we are not too badly beaten still to fight.”

1914

Outbreak of First World War

Two great alliances - the Éntente versus the German alliance - vied for domination of Europe between 1914-18. Over 200,000 men from Ireland took part in the fighting, most famously at Gallipoli and the Somme.

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1914

Outbreak of First World War

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28 Jun 1914

Franz Ferdinand assassinated

Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are shot dead in Sarajevo by members of the Serbian Nationalist group ‘The Black Hand’. Austria-Hungary is backed militarily by its powerful ally the German Empire, while Serbia is backed by the Russian Empire, allied militarily to France and Britain. On 28th July Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia and a localised Balkan conflict threatens to become a general European war.

1914

Outbreak of First World War

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03 Aug 1914

Germany declares war

Germany declares war on France. The next day it invades neutral Belgium. Redmond commits Irish Volunteers to defence of Ireland.

1914

Outbreak of First World War

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04 Aug 1914

Britain declares war

The German invasion of Belgium and France on the 3rd/4th August 1914 threatens the British government’s strategic interests. On 4th August 1914 Britain declares war on the German Empire and, publicly, the British government declares its aim as the defence of the rights of small nations.

1914

Outbreak of First World War

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04 Aug 1914

War fever grips

In August and September 1914 ‘war fever’ grips large numbers of people who rushed to sign up and fight.

1914

Outbreak of First World War

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18 Aug 1914

Government of Ireland Act

The Government of Ireland Act receives Royal Assent but is suspended for one year or until the end of European hostilities, pending the resolution of the Ulster question.

1914

Outbreak of First World War

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20 Sep 1914

The Woodenbridge speech

John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, gives a speech at Woodenbridge, County Wicklow, declaring his support for the war.

“I say to you: ‘Go on drilling and make yourself efficient for the work, and then account yourselves as men, not only for Ireland itself, but wherever the fighting line extends, in defence of right, of freedom and religion in this war.'"

1914

Outbreak of First World War

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13 Apr 2021

Roger Casement in Germany

Roger Casement arrives in Berlin. By the end of year, he agrees to establish an 'Irish Brigade' in Germany’s service, formed of Irish prisoners of war captured from the British Forces.

1914

Outbreak of First World War

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01 Dec 1914

Willie Redmond signs up

Willie Redmond, brother of IPP leader John Redmond, declares his intention to fight in the war, as "I can't stand asking fellows to go and not offer myself". He signs up to fight for the British Army in 1915, becoming an inspiring figure on the battlefield, revered by his fellow troops.

1916

The Easter Rising

A coalition of republican separatists seized the opportunity to reclaim the island from British rule while Britain was preoccupied with war overseas. The predominantly Dublin based battle saw over 400 die as the Easter rebels were defeated and the leaders of the Rising executed.

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1916

The Easter Rising

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11 Sep 1913

The Irish Volunteers

The Irish Volunteers military force is launched to counter the Ulster Volunteer Force, with secret backing from the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). Eoin MacNeill (left), who published ‘The North Began’ in An Claidheamh Soluis earlier that month, becomes leader.

1916

The Easter Rising

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26 Jul 1914

Republican gunrunning

The Irish Volunteers stage a failed gunrunning at Howth, Dublin. The British Army opens fire on a crowd in Bachelors Walk, killing four civilians and wounding thirty.

1916

The Easter Rising

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01 Jan 1915

Preparing a Rising

The Irish Republican Brotherhood establishes a new Military Committee, which contains members who go on to play a key role in the 1916 Rising, including Sean MacDermott (left). They recruit key men from the Irish Volunteers into its ranks. The Military Council hide their preparations from fellow IRB members who disagree with a proposed Rising while other non-IRB members, including Sir Roger Casement, help plan for the insurrection by approaching Germany for aid in the form of weapons and ammunition.

1916

The Easter Rising

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19 Jan 1916

Deciding a date

The IRB Military Council agree to instigate rebellion no later than Easter. James Connolly (left) joins the Council.

1916

The Easter Rising

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13 Apr 2021

Easter Sunday chosen

The IRB decide on 23rd April, Easter Sunday, for the rising, unbeknownst to Eoin MacNeill.

1916

The Easter Rising

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A model of The Aud is kept on display at Cork Public Museum

21 Apr 1916

Precious cargo

20,000 rifles and ammunition, which will be used to arm volunteers outside of the capital, are transported to Ireland four days before the Rising on board The Aud ship. With no one there to welcome the cargo, the ship’s captain finds himself pursued by three vessels who scuttle the ship, with the loss of the weapons.

1916

The Easter Rising

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24 Apr 1916

Eoin MacNeill revokes orders

Eoin MacNeill suspects a plot to use the Volunteers for rebellion and revokes the orders for Easter manoeuvres. His revocation appears in the Sunday Independent the following day. The IRB Military Council decide to go ahead regardless, but delay the start of the Rising until Easter Monday, 24th April.

1916

The Easter Rising

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24 Apr 1916

The Rising begins

First day of the Easter Rising. Key locations seized in Dublin by 1,250 members of the IRB, Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan, and Irish Citizen Army. Irish tricolour hoisted for first time outside captured General Post Office in Dublin. Patrick Pearse, the Volunteers' Director of Organisation, reads the Proclamation aloud from the steps of the GPO. Smaller actions take place in Galway, Meath, and Wexford.

1916

The Easter Rising

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24 Apr 1916

The Proclamation

The opening line of the Proclamation, as read by Patrick Pearse on the steps of the GPO:

“In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.”

1916

The Easter Rising

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25 Apr 1916

Markievicz's commitment

Countess Constance Markievicz, one of the only women actively involved in fighting during the Easter Rising, is appointed second-in-command to Michael Mallin at St Stephen’s Green. Following the Rising she is arrested and sentenced to death. This is later commuted to imprisonment, and she is subsequently released from prison in 1917.

1916

The Easter Rising

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29 Apr 1916

Evacuation and surrender

The week-long battle engulfs Dublin city and some of its most famous buildings. On Friday 29th April, under heavy bombardment from British artillery, the rebels flee the GPO. Realising the hopelessness of their situation, the rebel commanders decide to surrender on 30th April. 466 lives have been lost, including 254 civilians.

1916

The Easter Rising

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30 Apr 1916

Dublin in ruins

By the time the rebels surrender, large parts of Dublin city centre have been decimated, including the GPO, which came under heavy artillery bombardment from British forces.

1916

The Easter Rising

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03 May 1916

Britain's reaction

15 leaders of the Rising, including the seven signatories of the Proclamation, are executed by firing squad at Kilmainham Jail in Dublin over a ten-day period from 3rd May to 13th May. Roger Casement is executed on 13th August.

1916

Battle of the Somme

The 36th (Ulster) and 16th (Irish) divisions went into battle against German forces in northern France in one of the fiercest battles of the First World War. Ulster men, in particular, made large sacrifices as they led the big push over the top on July 1st. In just two days of battle, the division had lost thousands of men through death and injury.

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1916

Battle of the Somme

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01 Aug 1914

Irish men sign-up

Men from across Ireland enlist to take part in the First World War. Members of both the Ulster Volunteer Force and the National Volunteers join as part of Earl Kitchener’s call to Britain and Ireland for voluntary enlistment in the British Army.

1916

Battle of the Somme

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01 Jan 1916

Reality of war

The romantic image of war that so many young recruits had envisaged is cruelly shattered by the grim reality of trench warfare. For most, rival soldiers confront each other from the relative safety of fortified trenches across a strip of earth known as no-man’s-land. By 1916, Kitchener’s Volunteer armies are trained and prepared for battle. The 36th (Ulster) Division is part of the first offensive use of the newly created mass British Army during the Battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916.

1916

Battle of the Somme

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01 Jul 1916

Going 'over the top'

On 1st July 1916, at 7:30am, the 36th (Ulster) Division are one of the first groups to go over the top of their trenches following an allied bombardment of the German lines. The consequence for the British Army is horrific. Of the 120,000 who advanced, 57,470 suffer casualties in the single greatest loss of men by the British Army in one day. The 36th (Ulster) Division is hit particularly hard with 5,500 dead, wounded or taken prisoner.

1916

Battle of the Somme

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01 Jul 1916

McFadzean's bravery

On the morning of 1st July 1916, Lurgan man Billy McFadzean is distributing bombs in preparation for the attack. The box slips and two of the safety pins fall out as a result. Sensing the carnage it will cause his fellow comrades, McFadzean sacrifices his life and dives on the grenades. Only one other person is injured due to the action taken by McFadzean, who is posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.

1916

Battle of the Somme

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02 Jul 1916

'I would rather be an Ulsterman'

Following their attack, Captain Wilfred Spender, a correspondent for The Times, writes:

"I am not an Ulsterman but yesterday, the 1st July, as I followed their amazing attack, I felt that I would rather be an Ulsterman than anything else in the world."

1916

Battle of the Somme

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03 Jul 1916

Footage from the front

Footage from the Somme battlefield shows the harsh brutality of war.

1916

Battle of the Somme

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03 Jul 1916

All for nothing

The 36th (Ulster) Division is able to capture their objective on the first day of the Somme, while suffering great casualties. The failure of other divisions of the British Army to be similarly successful leaves the 36th isolated and forced to retreat from their captured objective. They are eventually relieved from the front line on July 5th, 1916.

1917

Lloyd George’s Convention

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George staged a convention to discuss how best to grant self-government to Ireland. However, the Convention was beset from the beginning by two fatal flaws.

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1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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01 May 1917

'The Irish Question'

In the aftermath of the Easter Rising, David Lloyd George, Secretary of State for War, resumes negotiations with both the Irish Parliamentary Party and the Ulster Unionists on the basis of implementing Home Rule and excluding Ulster from the settlement.

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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06 Dec 1916

New Prime Minister

Lloyd George takes over prime ministership from Asquith and forms a War Cabinet.

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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05 Feb 1917

Republican gains

Count Plunkett (left), father of executed rebel, Joseph, wins Roscommon North by-election, the first of several by-election nationalist swings away from IPP.

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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17 May 1917

Home Rule proposed again

Lloyd George proposes Home Rule for 26 counties (excluding Ulster) or a convention of Irishmen to resolve impasse. Speaking in the House of Commons he declares that "Ireland should try her hand at hammering out an instrument of government for her own people". Redmond declines Home Rule.

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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01 Jun 1917

De Valera has other ideas

The separatist party Sinn Féin, which is rapidly gaining momentum under the leadership of Eamon de Valera, refuses to attend the convention, held at Regent House in Dublin, weakening its authority and the chances of arriving at a widely accepted solution.

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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13 Apr 2021

De Valera wins at ballot box

Eamon de Valera (Sinn Féin) wins East Clare by-election following death of Willie Redmond MP (brother of IPP leader John) at Battle of Messines Ridge, Belgium.

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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25 Jul 1917

Convention gets underway

First meeting of Irish Convention, made up of 95 representatives from Redmond’s Irish Parliamentary Party, Irish Unionists, members of local government authorities, clergymen from the Roman Catholic Church and Church of Ireland, and prominent members of Irish society. All of these groups have different assumptions and expectations of what the convention can achieve.

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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25 Oct 1917

De Valera becomes president of Sinn Féin

Eamon de Valera is elected president of Sinn Féin at party’s first ard-fheis (convention). Griffith does not contest election. De Valera also becomes president of Irish Volunteers.

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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06 Mar 1918

John Redmond dies

John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary party, dies in London. He is later replaced as leader of the Party by John Dillon. In Redmond’s last speech to the convention in early January 1918, he warned:

“Far better for us and the [British] Empire never to have met, than to have met and failed of an agreement.”

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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05 Apr 1918

Final Convention meeting

Final meeting of the Irish Convention begins, with a final report delivered on 12th April. The German spring offensive of 1918 is sorely testing the Allies on the Western Front. Lloyd George is determined to introduce conscription in Ireland (in effect in Britain from 1916) and simultaneously to introduce Home Rule. Nothing comes of the convention's report, which is out-of-date within weeks of its publication.

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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18 Apr 1918

Conscription for Ireland

Military Service Bill (including Ireland) introduced in Westminster on 9 April, and Irish Convention proposal rejected by government. The conscription bill receives royal assent on 18 April, expanding age of compulsion to include all males aged 18-51 (with qualifications). Representative gathering of nationalists (including Irish Labour, the Catholic Church, and all nationalist parties) at Mansion House, Dublin coordinate opposition to conscription.

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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21 Apr 1918

Conscription opposed

Crowds emerge in force on the streets of Dublin in a rally and protest against conscription, with many signing an anti-conscription pledge.

1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

1918 brought peace at last for war-torn Europe. It was also a hugely significant year for politics in Ireland and Britain. The Representation of the People Act 1918 gave rise to votes for both men (aged 21 and over) and women (aged 30 and over and who owned property).

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1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

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06 Feb 1918

Representation of the People Act

The 1918 Representation of the People Act receives royal assent, giving the vast majority of men over the age of 21 the right to vote. For the first time, female property owners aged over 30 also receive the franchise. The legislation trebles the electorate in both Britain and Ireland, increasing in Britain from 8 million to 21 million, and from 800,000 to 2 million eligible voters in Ireland.

1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

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21 Mar 1918

Spring Offensive begins

The German Spring Offensive begins. The Allies are fighting 'with our backs to the wall'.

1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

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11 Nov 1918

Armistice

Armistice signed between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany. Hostilities on Western Front cease at 11am.

1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

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14 Dec 1918

Sinn Féin's power increases

At the UK general election Sinn Féin wins 73 seats on abstentionist platform. IPP win 6, but its leader John Dillon fails to be re-elected. Unionists win 26. Constance Markievicz (Sinn Féin) is first female MP to be elected in UK.

1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

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14 Dec 1918

Markievicz makes history

In a monumental year for women’s rights, Constance Markievicz, who fought in the Easter Rising alongside Michael Mallin in St. Stephen’s Green, becomes the first woman elected to the British House of Commons, winning in the constituency of Dublin St Patrick’s.

1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

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14 Dec 1918

Constance Markievicz following her election victory

Constance Markievicz is seen here surrounded by supporters following her election victory.

1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

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18 Jan 1919

Paris Peace Conference

The Paris Peace Conference opens in Versailles, France.

1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

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21 Jan 1919

Dáil Éireann established

Eamon de Valera and other Sinn Féin MPs refuse to take their seats at Westminster, London. Instead they set up their own parliament in Dublin, known as Dáil Éireann, which declares Irish independence at its first meeting in Mansion House on 21st January 1919.

1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

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21 Jan 1919

A new declaration

At its first meeting Dáil Éireann adopts a Declaration of Independence, deliberately borrowing the title of the American Declaration of Independence of 1776. The Declaration states:

“We solemnly declare foreign government in Ireland to be an invasion of our national right which we will never tolerate, and we demand the evacuation of our country by the English Garrison.”

1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

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02 Apr 1919

First female cabinet minister

Constance Markievicz is appointed Minister for Labour, the first Irish female Cabinet Minister (the only one for sixty years) and first in Western Europe.

1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

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28 Jun 1919

Treaty of Versailles

Treaty of Versailles is signed, formally ending the First World War.

1919

War Of Independence

The Irish War of Independence began on 21st January 1919 – the same day that Dáil Éireann had issued a Declaration of Independence as an Irish Republic. It was a guerrilla war fought between the Irish Republican Army and British forces in Ireland, which lasted until the end of 1921.

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1919

War Of Independence

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21 Jan 1919

Beginning of the war

The first meeting of Dail Eireann takes place in Dublin. Sinn Féin declares Ireland independent. On the same day the War of Independence begins, when two Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men are killed in Tipperary by IRA volunteers.

1919

War Of Independence

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01 Apr 1919

De Valera elected President of Dáil Éireann

The second meeting of Dáil Éireann takes place and Eamon De Valera is elected President. In May the first Republican court is established at Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. In September Dáil Éireann is proscribed by British authorities.

1919

War Of Independence

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25 Mar 1920

Black and Tans deployed

The British government recruits temporary forces to support the RIC in the war. The first, known as the ‘Black and Tans’ due to their improvised uniforms, arrive in Ireland in March 1920. Roughly 10,000 of these reinforcements, many of whom had fought during the First World War, are recruited during the War of Independence. A further 2,300 former British Army Officers are recruited as ‘Auxiliaries’ from August 1920 to conduct counter-insurgency operations.

1919

War Of Independence

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23 Jul 1920

Belfast Riots begin

14 die and 100 are injured in fierce rioting in Belfast. The riots were sparked by the loyalist expulsion two days earlier of Catholic workers from the city’s shipyards, engineering works, and textile mills.

1919

War Of Independence

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19 Aug 1920

Hunger strikes

The Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney (left), embarks on hunger strike in Brixton Prison following his conviction by court martial for sedition. He dies on 25 October. Arthur Griffith delivers his graveside oration in Cork on 31 October.

1919

War Of Independence

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22 Oct 1920

Ulster Special Constabulary Formed

The Ulster Special Constabulary is formed: an armed (and predominantly northern Protestant) police reserve.

1919

War Of Independence

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01 Sep 1920

Patrolling Dublin's streets

Black and Tans patrol the streets of Dublin among large crowds.

1919

War Of Independence

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21 Nov 1920

Bloody Sunday

Michael Collins, a driving force behind the War and the IRA’s Director of Intelligence, masterminds the assassination of 13 British intelligence officers and two civilians living in Dublin. In retaliation, later that day British Auxiliary forces attack a football crowd at Croke Park killing 14, including one of the players, Michael Hogan, and wounding 65. A total of 41 people are killed across Ireland on this day. ‘Bloody Sunday’ is one of the most brutal days in the War of Independence.

1919

War Of Independence

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28 Nov 1920

Kilmichael Ambush

Two lorries carrying Auxiliaries are ambushed by the IRA at Kilmichael, killing 17. 3 IRA men are also killed in the fighting.

1919

War Of Independence

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10 Dec 1920

Martial law

Martial law is declared in counties Cork, Limerick, Kerry, and Tipperary.

1919

War Of Independence

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11 Dec 1920

Burning of Cork

Cork city centre is burned in reprisal attacks by Crown forces.

1920

Government of Ireland Act

The Government of Ireland Act was passed on the 23rd December 1920 and partitioned Ireland with the six counties of Ulster (which had a Protestant majority) becoming Northern Ireland and the remaining 26 counties becoming Southern Ireland.

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1920

Government of Ireland Act

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04 Nov 1919

The Long Committee

The British Cabinet’s Irish Committee, led by southern Unionist Walter Long (left), proposes the repeal of the 1914 Government of Ireland Act. Instead he proposes two Home Rule parliaments for Ireland: one in Belfast, covering the nine counties of Ulster, and one in Dublin, which would preside over the remaining 23 counties. Long’s recommendations also include the establishment of a Council of Ireland to address matters of common interest, and to provide a potential framework for reunification.

1920

Government of Ireland Act

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25 Feb 1920

A new bill

A New Government of Ireland Bill, based on Walter Long’s proposals, is introduced to the House of Commons.

1920

Government of Ireland Act

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10 Mar 1920

Unionist Council accepts Home Rule

The Ulster Unionist Council accepts Long’s proposals and a parliament for Northern Ireland, which will hold jurisdiction over six of the nine counties of Ulster, excluding Cavan, Monaghan, and Donegal. While defending the decision to opt for a six-county parliament rather than a nine-county one, Edward Carson expresses regret at the ‘men abandoned’, both ‘in this province… and in the southern and western parts of Ireland’.

1920

Government of Ireland Act

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31 Mar 1920

Carson voices his feelings

Edward Carson opposes the partition of Ireland, calling it a betrayal of Unionists in the south and west. Carson says of Home Rule: ‘I never believed in it. I do not believe in it now, and I believe that it will be fraught with disaster to your country and to mine.’ Nevertheless he refuses to vote against the legislation, believing it was a better solution than that provided by the 1914 Home Rule Act, which would have seen Ulster governed from Dublin.

1920

Government of Ireland Act

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23 Dec 1920

Government of Ireland Act

The Government of Ireland Act partitions Ireland, with the six counties of Ulster becoming Northern Ireland and the remaining 26 counties becoming Southern Ireland. The intention of the Act is to establish two separate Home Rule institutions within Ireland – with both remaining part of the United Kingdom. Ulster Unionists, who had campaigned for almost a decade against any form of Home Rule, are now prepared to accept this outcome. But the proposal falls far short of what the Republican administration, Dáil Éireann, is prepared to accept.

1920

Government of Ireland Act

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03 May 1921

Partition enacted

Northern Ireland is formally created under Government of Ireland Act 1920, and the island of Ireland is officially partitioned.

1920

Government of Ireland Act

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13 May 1921

Southern elections

Elections are held in the 26 counties of the South, under the terms of the Government of Ireland Act. Sinn Féin refuses to recognise the Southern Ireland parliament and view the elections as a contest for the second Dáil Éireann. As Labour and what remained of the Irish Parliamentary Party did not contest the election, all 128 candidates are returned unopposed, including 124 Sinn Féin members, who form the Second Dáil. The remaining four seats, comprising the Dublin University (Trinity College) constituency, are taken by independent southern unionists.

1920

Government of Ireland Act

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24 May 1921

Northern elections

Northern Irish elections are held under the terms of the Act. Unionists win 40 out of the 52 seats, including two women, Julia McMordie and Dehra Chichester (left). Six seats are won by the Nationalist party, and six are taken by Sinn Féin members, including Éamon de Valera, Michael Collins, and Arthur Griffith. With the southern elections a formality, Sinn Féin had poured considerable resources into the northern campaign, standing on an anti-partition platform, and were disappointed by the unionist landslide.

1920

Government of Ireland Act

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07 Jun 1921

First Northern parliament

The first meeting of the new Northern Ireland parliament takes place at Belfast City Hall. James Craig (left) is elected as the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Both Sinn Féin and the Nationalist party refuse to take their seats. Due to their absence, all 24 nominations for the new parliament’s upper chamber, the Senate, are made by the Unionist party whip. On 15th June, the Cabinet meets for the first time and selects Northern Ireland’s 20 representatives on the Council of Ireland.

1920

Government of Ireland Act

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22 Jun 1921

Parliament formally opened

King George V formally opens the new Parliament of Northern Ireland. He describes the event as ‘a profoundly moving occasion in Irish history’. He also appeals to all Irishmen ‘to stretch out the hand of forbearance and conciliation, to forgive and to forget, and to join in making for the land which they love a new era of peace, contentment, and goodwill’.

1920

Government of Ireland Act

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28 Jun 1921

Southern parliament meets

The new Parliament of Southern Ireland meets at the Royal College of Science, Dublin. It is opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (left) and only the four unionist MPs, representing the University of Dublin, attend. This marks the Southern parliament’s only formal meeting.

1922

Civil War

The Anglo-Irish Treaty caused a split in the republican movement, leading to a civil war between pro-Treaty and anti-Treaty forces. Michael Collins led pro-Treaty government forces against De Valera’s anti-Treatyites for almost a year with up to 927 people losing their lives. The uneasy coalition of interests, which had constituted the republican movement and Sinn Féin at the time, was fractured.

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1922

Irish Civil War

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07 Jan 1922

Treaty split

Dáil Éireann ratifies the Treaty following Griffith’s motion for approval. 64 are in favour; 57 against.

1922

Irish Civil War

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09 Jan 1922

De Valera resigns

Eamon de Valera resigns as President of the Republic, refusing to support the Treaty. Speaking in Dáil Éireann, de Valera states:

“I am against this Treaty not because I am a man of war but because I am a man of peace. I am against this Treaty because it will not end the centuries of conflict between the two nations of Great Britain and Ireland.”

1922

Irish Civil War

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14 Jan 1922

Provisional government

The Provisional Government of Ireland is formed for administration of Southern Ireland.

1922

Irish Civil War

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31 Jan 1922

Military handover

The first unit of the new Irish National Army, a former IRA unit, takes possession of Beggars Bush Barracks: the first British military transfer to the new State (a formal handover takes place on 1 February).

1922

Irish Civil War

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14 Apr 1922

Four Courts occupied

Over 200 anti-Treaty IRA members occupy the Four Courts and other buildings in the heart of Dublin in an attempt to defy the provisional government. In May 1922, Collins and de Valera agree to an electoral pact in the hope this would stop the slide towards violent confrontation between republicans. However, following British pressure and the kidnap of a leading pro-Treaty General, Irish Free State forces begin attacking the Four Courts. The anti-Treatyites surrender after two days of shelling.

1922

Irish Civil War

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16 Jun 1922

Election

At the Southern Irish general election, pro-Treaty candidates win 75 per cent of the votes.

1922

Irish Civil War

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28 Jun 1922

Civil War begins

The National Army, using armaments borrowed from the British, bombard the anti-Treaty IRA occupying the Four Courts, initiating civil war.

1922

Irish Civil War

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30 Jun 1922

Public records destroyed

During the bombardment of the Four Courts the Irish Public Record Office is destroyed, with the loss of records detailing centuries of Irish governments. It has been argued the records may have been destroyed by mines intentionally laid by anti-Treaty members as they evacuated.

1922

Irish Civil War

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30 Jun 1922

Buildings come under fire in Dublin

Forces attack the Four Courts with shells while Dublin residents attempt to get a closer view.

1922

Irish Civil War

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20 Jul 1922

Violence across the country

Towns and cities throughout the country are engaged in battle, including Limerick which falls to Free State forces on July 20th. Collins’ Free State forces hold superior artillery and armour to that of de Valera’s Irregulars, and are able to defeat them in most instances.

1922

Irish Civil War

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01 Aug 1922

Men come under arrest

Pro-treaty forces apprehend anti-treaty forces in the countryside. Men who may have once fought side by side were now each other's enemies.

1922

Irish Civil War

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22 Aug 1922

Collins is killed

While travelling by car in County Cork, Michael Collins’ convoy comes under fire from anti-Treaty Republicans and Collins is killed. His death is widely believed to have contributed to the increasing viciousness of the civil war.

1922

Irish Civil War

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09 Sep 1922

Third Dáil

The first meeting of the Provisional Parliament (Third Dáil) is held. W.T. Cosgrave (left) is elected President of Dáil Éireann and Chairman of the Provisional Government.

1922

Irish Civil War

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30 Apr 1923

Ceasefire

Following months of attacks and casualties, a ceasefire is called by Frank Aiken, the IRA’s Chief of Staff, in April 1923. A month later he orders the IRA to dump their arms, indicating it was a fight they were incapable of winning. By the time the ceasefire is called, 927 people have lost their lives during the bloody conflict. The principal protagonists in the civil war, Treatyites against anti-Treatyites, would form the basis for party political divisions in southern Ireland for decades to come.