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 Crisis

Ulster became the centre of opposition to Home Rule, and from 1912 to 1914 a variety of events strengthened Unionist Ulster’s resistance. On 28 September 1912, almost 500,000 people signed the Ulster Covenant and Women's Declaration to resist the implementation of a Home Rule parliament in Ireland.

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1912

The Ulster Crisis

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PRONI.

29 Jul 1911

Carson opposes Home Rule

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

‘I am not for a mere game of bluff, and, unless Ulster men are prepared to make great sacrifices ... the talk of resistance is no use.’

1912

The Ulster Crisis

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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 Unionist demonstrations and increasing tensions in the city, Churchill (who was denied the use of the Ulster Hall for his address) is forced to undertake a circuitous route back to his ferry at Larne.

1912

The Ulster Crisis

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National Portrait Gallery, London.

09 Apr 1912

Bonar Law pledges ‘unconditional support’

On Easter Tuesday, a mass Unionist gathering is held at the Balmoral Showgrounds, Belfast. The new Conservative leader, Andrew Bonar Law (left), 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

The Ulster Crisis

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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 (left). It is the third attempt by a Liberal government to introduce Home Rule for Ireland since 1886.

1912

The Ulster Crisis

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Unknown author, via Wikimedia Commons.

11 Jun 1912

Ulster excluded

Liberal MP Thomas Agar-Robartes (left) 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

The Ulster Crisis

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28 Sep 1912

Ulster Day

Unionists declare this day ‘Ulster Day’. Edward Carson addresses a religious service in the Ulster Hall before walking to Belfast City Hall, where he is the first to sign 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’. 237,368 men signed the Covenant, and 234,046 women signed the Women’s Declaration.

1912

The Ulster Crisis

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PRONI.

28 Sep 1912

Signing in blood

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

The Ulster Crisis

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Unknown author, 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

The Ulster Crisis

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National Museums Northern Ireland.

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 before a new parliament is established in Dublin.

1912

The Ulster Crisis

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PRONI.

09 Mar 1914

Carson says no

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

1912

The Ulster Crisis

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George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress.

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

The Ulster Crisis

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National Library of Ireland.

24 Apr 1914

Unionist gunrunning

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

The Ulster Crisis

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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

The Ulster Crisis

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

21 Jul 1914

Buckingham Palace conference

At the king’s request, a four-day conference is held at Buckingham Palace in an attempt to secure agreement on Ulster’s status in relation to Home Rule. The Conference fails.

1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

The politics of Labour exploded in 1913 at the same time as the Home Rule question heated up.

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1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

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26 Apr 1907

Belfast on strike

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 1907. During the strike there is sectarian violence, anti-sectarian actions by workers, and police mutiny in Belfast while British Army troops are deployed to quell unrest. James Sexton, leader of the NUDL, settles the strike without consulting 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 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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National Portrait Gallery, London.

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 Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union’s Belfast organiser in 1911. Together they help to form the Irish Labour Party in June 1912.

1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

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15 Aug 1913

Dublin workers sacked

Industrial unrest in Dublin forces William Martin Murphy (left), leader of Dublin Employers’ Federation, to demand that Irish Independent and Dublin United Tram Company employees choose between membership of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU) or their jobs. The Union is led by James Larkin. 100 tramway members are sacked for their refusal.

1913

Rise Of The Labour Movement

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Unknown author, via Wikimedia Commons.

26 Aug 1913

Dublin Lock-Out begins

Larkin and the ITGWU respond to William Martin Murphy's decision by going on general strike, initiating the Dublin ‘Lock-Out’ which lasts until early 1914. Approximately 20,000 workers go on strike against 400 employers.

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 is arrested and police storm 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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ITGWU, via Wikimedia Commons.

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

Lock-Out ends

The Dublin Lock-Out comes to an end when Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union 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. In the aftermath, he declares:

‘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’. On 28 July Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. As Austria-Hungary is backed by the German Empire, while Serbia is backed by the Russian Empire, allied to France and Britain, a localised Balkan conflict threatens to become a general European war.

1914

Outbreak of First World War

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Uknown author, via Wikimedia Commons.

03 Aug 1914

Germany declares war

Germany declares war on France. The next day it invades neutral Belgium. John Redmond commits Irish Volunteers to defence of Ireland, and suggests that the Irish Volunteers and Ulster Volunteer Force could jointly defend Ireland.

1914

Outbreak of First World War

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Imperial War Museum, London.

04 Aug 1914

Britain declares war

The German invasion of Belgium and France in August 1914 threatens the British government’s strategic interests. On 4 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 rush 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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21 Aug 1914

10th (Irish) Division Formed

British Government issues orders to raise New Army of six divisions. Formation of 10th (Irish) Division, the first of three New Army divisions raised in Ireland. Within a month, Irish reservists experience their first engagements in the Belgian city of Mons and at the Battle of the Marne.

1914

Outbreak of First World War

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Unknown author, via Wikimedia Commons.

20 Sep 1914

The Woodenbridge speech

John Redmond makes a famous speech at Woodenbridge, Co. Wicklow, committing the Irish Volunteers to go ‘wherever the firing line extends’. His speech causes a split in the movement: the majority follow Redmond and take the new name of the National Volunteers. The minority Irish Volunteers, who disagree with his declaration, retain the name and are soon planning rebellion at home.

1914

Outbreak of First World War

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National Library of Ireland.

31 Oct 1914

Casement arrives in Berlin

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.

1915

Ireland at War

Attitudes towards the war changed fundamentally during 1915. The short-war delusion was shattered as large scale offensives, such as the Dardanelles Campaign, failed to result in victory. The United Kingdom stepped up its activities to meet the developing war of attrition and home fronts in Ireland and Great Britain played major roles in enabling the military effort at the same time as radical nationalists began to foment plans for rebellion.

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1915

Ireland at War

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22 Apr 1915

Chlorine gas

German Forces use chlorine gas for the first time, breaking the Geneva Convention. Though the action triggers significant condemnation in the UK, the Allies would soon use chlorine gas themselves in later offensives.

1915

Ireland at War

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Imperial War Museum.

25 Apr 1915

Gallipoli Campaign begins

Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), British, French and Irish troops make first landings on Gallipoli peninsula as part of Allied attack on Ottoman Empire. As First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill is heavily involved in the plan, which aimed re-establish control of the Dardanelles Strait, a strategically important trading route and direct pathway to Russia.

1915

Ireland at War

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07 May 1915

Torpedoing of the RMS Lusitania

RMS Lusitania is torpedoed by German U-Boats and sinks off coast of Queenstown (Cobh), Co. Cork, killing 1,198 people. The event sparks widespread outrage. In Cork, hundreds of bodies are washed up over coming weeks; worried family members travel to identify loved ones.

1915

Ireland at War

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17 May 1915

Heavy casualties

Heavy casualties from the Gallipoli campaign begin to appear in the Irish press from regular army units including the Royal Irish Rifles, Royal Irish Regiment and Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

1915

Ireland at War

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25 May 1915

Wartime coalition

H.H. Asquith forms a new coalition government. Edward Carson is appointed attorney-general. John Redmond refuses appointment in new administration.

1915

Ireland at War

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01 Aug 1915

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa’s funeral

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, prominent member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, dies in New York City in July 1915. His body is returned to Ireland, where his funeral is used as a propaganda event by republicans. Patrick Pearse delivers a famous graveside oration.

1915

Ireland at War

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The War Illustrated, 12 June 1915, via Wikimedia Commons.

06 Aug 1915

Gallipoli landings

The 10th (Irish) Division embarks on the disastrous landings at Gallipoli. Over the course of the Gallipoli Campaign, over 3,000 Irishmen are killed in action or die of wounds.

1916

The Easter Rising

A coalition of republicans seized the opportunity to establish an Irish Republic while Westminster was preoccupied with war overseas. The predominantly Dublin-based battle saw over 400 die, most of whom were civilians. When the rebels surrendered, its leaders were executed. The executions had a profound impact on the mythology of republicanism and helped reinvigorate a radical Nationalist challenge to the Irish Parliamentary Party.

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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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02 Apr 1914

Cumann na mBan

Foundation of radical nationalist women’s organization, Cumann na mBan.

1916

The Easter Rising

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26 Jul 1914

Howth gunrunning

The Irish Volunteers stage a gunrunning at Howth, Dublin. Ammunition is transported from Germany using Erskine Childers’ pleasure yacht, Asgard (left). When the cargo is landed the Dublin Metropolitan Police attempt to arrest the Volunteers, and a riot breaks out. 19 rifles are seized, but other weapons are safely hidden away.

1916

The Easter Rising

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01 Jan 1915

Preparing a rising

The Irish Republican Brotherhood establishes a new Military Council, which contains members who go on to play a role in the 1916 Rising, including Sean MacDermott (left). The Council recruit key men from the Irish Volunteers into its ranks in preparation for a proposed rising, but hide their preparations from fellow IRB members who disagree with these plans. Other non-IRB members help plan for the insurrection by approaching Germany for weapons and ammunition.

1916

The Easter Rising

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19 Jan 1916

IRB plans rebellion

The IRB Military Council agree to instigate rebellion no later than Easter. James Connolly (left), co-founder of the Irish Citizen Army and a socialist republican, joins the Council.

1916

The Easter Rising

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01 Mar 1916

Easter Sunday chosen

The IRB decide on 23 April, Easter Sunday, for rebellion. Eoin MacNeill is not made aware of this, creating a split in the organisation which would have consequences the following month.

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, makes its way to Ireland four days before the Rising on board the ship The Aud. With no-one there to welcome the cargo, the ship’s captain finds himself pursued by three vessels; he scuttles the ship with the loss of the weapons.

1916

The Easter Rising

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22 Apr 1916

Eoin MacNeill revokes orders

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

1916

The Easter Rising

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24 Apr 1916

The Rising begins

First day of the Easter Rising. Key Dublin locations seized by 1,250 members of the IRB, Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan, and Irish Citizen Army. Irish tricolour hoisted outside captured General Post Office in Dublin. Patrick Pearse, the Volunteers' Director of Organisation, reads the Proclamation aloud from the GPO steps. 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, however, and she was 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 29 April, under heavy bombardment from British artillery, the rebels flee the GPO. Realising the hopelessness of their situation, the rebel commanders surrender on 30 April.

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

Fifteen 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 3 May to 12 May, 1916. Roger Casement is executed later, on 13 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 1 July. 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 enlisted to take part in the First World War. Members of both the Ulster Volunteer Force and the National Volunteers joined 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 was cruelly shattered by the grim reality of trench warfare. For most, rival soldiers confronted 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 were trained and prepared for battle. The 36th (Ulster) Division was 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 1 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 July 1st, 1916, Lurgan man Billy McFadzean was distributing bombs in preparation for the attack. The box slipped and two of the safety pins fell out as a result. Sensing the carnage it would cause his fellow comrades, McFadzean sacrificed his life and dived on the grenades. Only one other person was injured due to the action taken by McFadzean, who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.

1916

Battle of the Somme

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02 Jul 1916

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

In the end

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 5 July 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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Imperial War Museum.

01 May 1916

‘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 from Asquith as Prime Minister and forms a War Cabinet.

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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RSAI, via Wikimedia Commons.

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 the IPP.

1917

Lloyd George's Irish Convention

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National Portrait Gallery, London.

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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24 Jun 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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National Library of Ireland.

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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Unknown author, via Wikimedia Commons.

06 Mar 1918

John Redmond dies

John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary party, dies in London. In Redmond’s last speech to the convention in 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 12 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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Unknown author, via Wikimedia Commons.

18 Apr 1918

Conscription for Ireland

Military Service Bill introduced in Westminster on 9 April, and Irish Convention proposal rejected by government. The bill receives Royal Assent on 18 April, expanding the age of compulsion to include all males aged 18–51. 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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Bundesarchiv, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE.

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 an abstentionist platform. The IPP wins 6, but its leader John Dillon fails to be re-elected. Unionists win 26. Constance Markievicz (Sinn Féin) is the 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 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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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. 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 21 January 1919.

1918

Peace, Suffrage and General Election

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Wikimedia Commons.

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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Hulton picture archive, via Wikimedia Commons.

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 21 January 1919 – the same day that Dáil Éireann 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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National Library of Ireland.

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 September Dáil Éireann is proscribed by British authorities.

1919

War Of Independence

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Imperial War Museum.

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 men are recruited. A further 2,300 former British Army Officers are recruited as ‘Auxiliaries’ from August 1920.

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 are 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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National Library of Ireland.

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 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 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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National Library of Ireland.

28 Nov 1920

Kilmichael ambush

Two lorries carrying Auxiliaries are ambushed by the IRA at Kilmichael, killing 17. Three 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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National Library of Ireland.

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 23 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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National Portrait Gallery, London.

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. 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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National Portrait Gallery, London.

31 Mar 1920

Carson voices his feelings

Edward Carson calls the partition of Ireland a betrayal of Unionists in the south and west. 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, creating two Home Rule states of 'Northern' and 'Southern' Ireland within the United Kingdom. Ulster Unionists 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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Imperial War Museum, London.

24 May 1921

Northern elections

Northern elections are held under the terms of the Act. Unionists win 40 out of 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, including Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins, and Arthur Griffith. Sinn Féin, who stood on an anti-partition platform, are disappointed by the Unionist landslide.

1920

Government of Ireland Act

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PRONI.

07 Jun 1921

First Northern parliament

The first meeting of the Northern 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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George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress.

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 is its only formal meeting.

1921

Anglo-Irish Treaty

With the Ulster Question seemingly resolved through the creation of the Northern Ireland parliament, the British government turned its attention to securing a peaceful settlement in the south. Both sides agreed to a ceasefire in July 1921 and signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty signed on 6 December 1921. Irish representatives in London for the signing included Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith.

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1921

Anglo-Irish Treaty

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08 Jul 1921

Moves towards peace

De Valera accepts an invitation to meet the UK Prime Minister David Lloyd George in London. A day later a truce is signed between the IRA and Crown Forces, coming into effect on 11 July.

1921

Anglo-Irish Treaty

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10 Jul 1921

Bloody Sunday

Catholics and Protestants clash in Belfast, following an IRA ambush of a police raiding party in the city’s Catholic and republican enclaves. Loyalists retaliate, attacking Catholics homes and businesses. 16 are killed on 10 July, and 23 in total are killed over a four-day period. Over 200 – mostly Catholic – homes are destroyed in the violence.

1921

Anglo-Irish Treaty

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National Library of Ireland.

11 Jul 1921

Truce

The truce signed by IRA and Crown forces comes into effect, ending the War of Independence.

1921

Anglo-Irish Treaty

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08 Sep 1921

Final offer

Lloyd George makes his final proposal to de Valera, offering limited sovereignty within British Empire. Between October and December, negotiations for a bilateral agreement begin between representatives of Dáil Éireann and the British government in London. Dáil Éireann selects the five delegates to negotiate the agreement, including Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith. Critically, De Valera does not attend.

1921

Anglo-Irish Treaty

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06 Dec 1921

Anglo-Irish Treaty

Agreement is reached between Irish and British representatives, creating the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Key points include the creation of an Irish Free State within the Commonwealth, an Oath of Allegiance to the Crown, and retention by the British naval services of certain ports. The treaty also includes a provision for a boundary commission to determine the final border between the two Irish jurisdictions. De Valera accuses the Irish delegation of agreeing to demands which fall short of a Republic.

1921

Anglo-Irish Treaty

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19 Dec 1921

Freedom to achieve freedom

As one of the signatories of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Michael Collins defends it during a sitting of Dáil Éireann in December 1921:

‘In my opinion, it gives us freedom, not the ultimate freedom that all nations desire and develop to, but the freedom to achieve it.’

1921

Anglo-Irish Treaty

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National Portrait Gallery, London.

10 Feb 1922

Irish Free State (Agreement) Act

The Irish Free State (Agreement) Act 1922 is introduced in the British House of Commons by Winston Churchill. The Act provides for dissolution of the Parliament of Southern Ireland and the election of a parliament to which the Provisional Government will be responsible.

1921

Anglo-Irish Treaty

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17 Aug 1922

Handover of power

Dublin Castle formally handed to National Army. British Army leaves.

1921

Anglo-Irish Treaty

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05 Dec 1922

Irish Free State Constitution Act

On 5 December 1922, the UK Parliament enacts the Irish Free State Constitution Act, legally sanctioning Constitution of the Irish Free State. A day later, the Irish Free State formally comes into existence.

1921

Anglo-Irish Treaty

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07 Dec 1922

The North opts out

The Parliament of Northern Ireland enacts its ability to opt of the new Irish Free State, established under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, and votes to remain part of the United Kingdom.