Their Story

I find it hard to tell any story without historical context. 

Armagh Project faculty member Nessa O’Mahony will conduct a history class while we are in Armagh in July.

In addition, on 16 June, UB Professor Don Haynes reviewed the history of Ireland for UB Armagh Project travelers: Maureen Sullivan, Joan Weber, Rachel Wooley and myself. I took the notes below and augmented them with the timeline from Neil Hagarty’s The Story of Ireland.

Professor Haynes’ recommended reading:

  • Irish novelists for historical narrative fiction
  • Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter, Roddy Doyle
  • Reading in the Dark, novel by Seamus Deane, set in Derry from 1945-71
  • Paddy’s Lament, novel by Thomas Gallagher about the famine
  • The Story of Ireland, A History of the Irish People by Neil Hagarty

Historical Timeline:

8000 BC, first human presence in Ireland. Ancient ones on the island were probably Iberian. Celtic legends tell stories of those early people. The Celts lived in small groups and spoke Gaelic.

3000 BC, construction of Newgrange

43, Roman legions occupied southern Britain

430, Palladius sent from Rome to minister to the Christian Irish; St. Patrick began his ministry

563, Foundation of Iona by Colum Cille

8-10th centuries Christian monastic culture: the church was Roman but pagan was mixed at the local level

750, compilation of the Book of Kells, probably on Iona

8th century Vikings raided and ruled

1002, Brian Boru rules as high king

1066, Battle of Hastings

1154, Henry II crowned in Britain

1166, Vikings are chased out and Ireland became a number of kingdoms. Rory O’Connor was appointed high king in Dublin and lay claim to kingdom of Leister. Tried to ally with Henry II.

Richard de Clare, second earl of Pembroke (Strongbow and rival to Henry II) married Aofie MacMurrough (daughter of Dermot MacMurrough) in order to lay claim to Leister (metaphoric of forced marriage of England and Ireland).

1167, MacMurrough sailed in the company of Anglo-Norman military (first Anglo-Norman landings on the Irish coast)

1170, Strongbow sacked Waterford; beginning of a land grab

1171, Death of Strongbow in Dublin

1177, Anglo-Norman conquest of eastern Ulster began

1185, King John in Ireland and campaigned to subdue the Anglo-Norman rebels

1367, Statues of Kilkenny that forbade English settlers from acting like Irishmen and reasserted English culture among the English settlers

1539, Dissolution of Irish monasteries; Storytellers kept Gaelic folklore and bardic tradition alive. Parish priests set up rural hedge schools separate from official schools.

1539, Henry VIII proclaimed King of Ireland

1608-1610, Establishment of the plantation system of Ulster began under King James I with gifts of Irish land to lowland Presbyterian Scots and British settlers

1649, Execution of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell sacked Drogheda and Wexford and moved Irish Catholic population to the western fringes

1658-60, Death of Cromwell and restoration of British monarchy with Charles II

1688, William of Orange landed in England and James I fled to France

1689, James lands at Kinsale and travels north; siege of Derry ends but weakened James’ position

1690, Battle of the Boyne; delivered Dublin and the province of Leinster to William; James returned to France

Penal laws discriminated against Catholics through tithing, banning Catholics from employment, elected office, bearing arms, rights of primogeniture, and buying land.

1707, union of Scotland and England

1740-1, severe famine in Ireland

1791, Wolf Tone’s Argument in Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland; Catholic relief bill passed in Britain; foundation of United Irishmen

1798, United Irish rebellion crushed; death of Wolfe Tone

1801, union of Great Britain and Ireland

1803, Robert Emmet’s rebellion

1828, Daniel O’Connell won Clare by-election and ultimately became Lord Mayor of Dublin

1845-49, Great Famine or sharecropper potato blight. The farming system exported wool and grain. Sharecropper only grew enough to eat and survive, and potatoes were a “lazy bed” and didn’t require much tending. In classical economic liberalism dogma, British believed the market would correct the problem. Famine instituted the workhouse and inspired the Irish diaspora to east coast cities, Toronto, Quebec, Australia and Argentina. Irish lost 20-25% of its population during this time. Crowded and overbooked ships were named the coffin ships. Mixed reactions in Parliament: let sharecroppers die, consolidate fields, and raise sheep. Celtic Fringe in the west hit the worst.

1858, Foundation of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), the Irish Republican organization had offices in USA; IRB sent members into the Civil War to train and get experience fighting

1870, Charles Stewart Parnell elected to House of Commons

1877, Irish obstructionism in Parliament

1880-1, First Boer War

1881-2, Gladstone’s land reform bills

1886, first Home Rule bill; Ulster Unionists rallied in opposition; bill thrown out of Parliament

1899, outbreak of Second Boer War

1901, death of Victoria and accession of Edward VII

1904, Irish Literary Theatre became Abbey Theatre

1907, formation of Sinn Fein

1912, Third Home Rule bill passed

During World War One, Irish joined British army (huge losses in the Battle of Somme)

1916, Easter Rebellion or 1916 revolution. The rebellion acquired guns from Germany and planned to take over Dublin with its post office as a base. Chaos broke out and, British arrested ring leaders.

1917, Eamon de Valera won Clare by-election for Sinn Fein

1918, 73 Sinn Fein MPs elected, creating Dail Eireann (Assembly of Ireland), the revolutionary, parliament of the Irish Republic from 1919-22

1919, War was over, and the Irish begin war of independence with skirmishes, ambushes, and night raids. British troops Black and Tans brutally enforced rule.

1920, Proposed partition of Ireland; sectarian violence in Ulster

1921, British, exhausted by WW1, offered an Anglo-Irish treaty

1922, Anglo-Irish treaty ratified by Dail; Michael Collins headed new provisional government of

partitioned Ireland; 6 Ulster counties cut off. Sinn Fein rejected the treaty.

1921-23, English Civil War

1922, Collins killed in an ambush

1924-49, Irish President de Valera tried to break away from UK

1939, World War II begins and de Valera declares Ireland neutral

1949, declaration of Irish Republic; Government of Ireland Act cements Northern Ireland’s position in United Kingdom

1968, civil rights march in Derry ended in violence. Social justice leaders like Bernadette Develin were influenced by Martin Luther King and American Civil Rights.

1971, Rev. Ian Paisley establishes Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) with strong links to Protestant churches

1972, Bloody Sunday in Derry and Bloody Friday as IRA retaliates

1981, Hunger strikes in HM Prison Maze; member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army Bobby Sands elected to British Parliament as Anti H-Block candidate
1984, Prime Minster Thatcher bomb attempt in Brighton; bombed planted by Provisional Irish Republican Army member Patrick Magee. Thatcher refuses to negotiate with terrorists (IRA). Sinn Fein leader Jerry Adams announced that it was not a terrorist organization and got travel dispensation to meet with President Clinton; Adams seen as statesman not terrorist so Sinn Fein invited to peace table.

1999, Good Friday Agreement, multi-party agreement addressing issues of civil and cultural rights, decommissioning all IRA weapons, justice and policing

2006, St. Andrews Agreement, DUP agreed with Irish Republican party Sinn Fein to enter into a power-sharing devolved government in Northern Ireland

Current Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly at the Belfast Stormont: DUP (largest), Alliance Party (moderate non-sectarian unionists), UUP (Ulster Unionist Party), SDLP (Social Democratic Labor party or Irish nationalists), and Sinn Fein.



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