Approximately 100 historic events over seven centuries in Ireland, Britain and the United States.
1534 – 1536
Henry VIII breaks with the Pope and declares himself head of the Church of England and Ireland, thereby establishing the political primacy of Protestantism.
Sir Walter Raleigh, an English soldier, is knighted by Queen Elizabeth for the colonization of Virginia and his work in Ireland. Known for popularizing tobacco in England, he is also believed to have introduced the potato, a native South American crop, to Ireland.
The powerful northern Irish chieftains flee Ireland in the aftermath of the Battle of Kinsale (1601), leaving the country open to further plantation by English and Scottish settlers.
English explorer Henry Hudson sails into Upper New York Bay, thus beginning the European settlement of New York.
Oliver Cromwell (later Lord Protector of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) lays waste to the farming lands of eastern Ireland. The battle cry, “To Hell or to Connaught,” meant death or removal to the infertile lands of the west of Ireland for the native Irish.
William of Orange, the new Protestant king, defeats his father-in-law, Catholic King James II, for the British throne at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland.
The enactment of Penal Laws denies religious freedom to Catholics and other Nonconformist denominations in Ireland and Britain by forbidding them to hold office or to practice law. Later amendments extend the prohibitions to property ownership and land inheritance.
The Acts of Union between England and Scotland create the Kingdom of Great Britain.
The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place in New York City when marchers file up Broadway in Lower Manhattan.
The Declaration of Independence is adopted by the 13 American colonies, declaring independence from Great Britain.
Young Irish Protestants and Catholics who had formed The United Irishmen, inspired by the French and American Revolutions, foment an unsuccessful rebellion against British rule. Leaders, including Theobald Wolfe Tone, are sentenced to execution.
The Parliament in Westminster passes an Act of Union abolishing the Irish parliament at Dublin.
Kingdom of Great Britain formally merges with Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Rebellion against the Union under the leadership in Dublin of Robert Emmet, executed on September 20.
The United States declares war against Great Britain and Ireland in the War of 1812.
Although duly elected in the West of Ireland, as a Catholic, Daniel O’Connell cannot take his seat in Parliament.
O’Connell’s electoral success results in Catholic Emancipation, allowing Catholics throughout the United Kingdom to sit in the Westminster Parliament.
Queen Victoria accedes to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland and rules through 1901.
A poor law, based on the English model, is introduced to Ireland. The law divides the country into 130 Poor Law “unions,” each with its own workhouse.
Daniel O’Connell founds the Loyal National Repeal Association, which aims to overturn the Act of Union of 1800.
A General Election in the United Kingdom gives Sir Robert Peel’s Conservative Party a majority in the House of Commons.
In August, the Irish potato crop is attacked by a previously unknown fungus Phytophthora infestans. The blight destroys the potato crop, the staple food of the native Irish tenant farmers.
British Prime Minister Robert Peel uses the potato blight to repeal the Corn Laws, which had taxed imported grains and kept prices artificially high. Although he is very popular, a lack of support from his party forces him to resign.
Major Denis Mahon, owner of Strokestown Park Estate, who paid his tenants to emigrate to avoid paying their rents, is assassinated.
1847, the worst year of the Famine is dubbed “Black 47” (150 years later, commemorations of the Great Hunger are held by the Irish government and an apology is extended by Britain’s Prime Minister, Tony Blair).
Grosse Île in Canada is re-opened as the quarantine station for Quebec. Over 5,000 emigrant Irish men, women and children are buried on the island.
The Irish Church Mission is founded by Protestant Evangelists to convert Roman Catholics. The hungry people were sometimes enticed with free soup, giving rise to the popular expression for a turncoat: “He took the soup.”
Oscar Wilde is born in Dublin. His mother, Jane (Speranza) Wilde, had written the harrowing poem, “The Famine Year,” in 1847.
The National Gallery of Ireland is established.
The Fenian Brotherhood is founded in the United States. Composed of emigrants, political exiles and Irish Americans, it is a brigade of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), a secret revolutionary group.
The American Civil War begins. Twice as many people died in the Famine as are killed in this four-year war.
President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation. Immigrant Irish volunteers sign up to fight in the Civil War; others are press-ganged on arrival at the Port of New York.
Sir Roger David Casement, British diplomat and Irish nationalist who is executed for his role in the 1916 Rising, is born.
An abortive Fenian uprising against British rule takes place in Ireland. Rebels are exiled to Australia in what would be the final generation of convicts transported to that continent.
The Home Government Association is founded, which evolves into the Home Rule movement.
John Millington Synge, dramatist, poet, and author of Playboy of the Western World, is born.
A period of largely passive resistance against evictions, known as the Land War, masterminded by Michael Davitt, whose family had been evicted from their home in County Mayo in 1846.
Charles Stewart Parnell, a member of the British Parliament, is imprisoned for his opposition to Prime Minister William Gladstone’s second Land Act.
Éamon de Valera, later Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and President of Ireland, is born in New York. His American birth saved him from execution for his part in the 1916 Rising in Dublin.
Promising to improve the condition of tenant farmers, the Kilmainham Treaty, named for the jail holding Parnell, is signed by Gladstone. Parnell is released from jail.
The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is founded in Ireland to promote traditional Irish sports.
The first Irish Home Rule Bill is defeated. The Irish Unionist Party, founded in opposition, later becomes a prime mover in partition and the ruling party in Northern Ireland prior to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The Times of London irreparably damages the Irish Nationalist Party and Charles Stewart Parnell by revealing him as correspondent in the O’Shea divorce trial. Michael Collins, Irish Republican and survivor of the 1916 Rising, is born in County Cork.
After losing three by-elections in Ireland, Parnell dies in England. He had been leader of the Irish nationalists in the British House of Commons for more than 10 years.
Annie Moore, immigrant from Ireland, is the first person to be officially processed at the Immigration Center on Ellis Island. She is commemorated there in a statue unveiled in 1999 by Ireland’s first female president, Mary Robinson.
The Gaelic League is founded by Douglas Hyde, later first president of Ireland.
Queen Victoria, age 82, visits Ireland for the fourth and last time. Her visit infuriates nationalists, such as Yeats’ poetic muse, Maud Gonne, and socialists, like James Connolly, who was executed for his role in the 1916 Rising.
“De Profundis” (Latin: “from the depths”), written by playwright Oscar Wilde during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol for homosexuality, is published five years after his death.
John Millington Synge’s masterpiece, The Playboy of The Western World, causes a riot at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
World War I begins. This war, known as the “war to end all wars,” changed the political map of Europe.
A group of Irish volunteers, led by barrister/schoolteacher/poet Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, proclaims an Irish Republic. Fifteen leaders are executed for their part in the Easter Rising.
Constance Gore-Booth, Countess Markievicz, who survived execution in the 1916 Rising because of her gender, becomes the first woman elected to Parliament at Westminster. She refuses to take her seat.
The Anglo Irish treaty, approving a 26-county Irish Free State (later the Republic of Ireland) with 6 Northern Counties remaining in the United Kingdom, leads to Civil War.
Ulysses, the controversial novel by Irish author James Joyce, is published in Paris. It is widely regarded the most important work of modern literature.
Al Smith becomes the first Catholic Irish American to be elected Governor of New York State. He becomes the Democratic candidate for United States President in 1928. Irish Protestant William Butler Yeats is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Sean O’Casey’s play, The Shadow of a Gunman, is performed at the Abbey Theatre. The play results in a riot.
Dubliner George Bernard Shaw is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The first Consulate of Ireland opens in New York City.
Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany. President Franklin D. Roosevelt launches the New Deal, a plan to end the Depression.
Irish-American playwright Eugene O’Neill is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
A constitutional crisis occurs in England as Edward VIII abdicates a month into his reign. George VI becomes King.
Scholar and author Douglas Hyde is elected first president of Ireland.
Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and America enters World War II. Éamon de Valera’s government adopts a neutrality policy, but Germans in Ireland are interned.
The 26-county Republic of Ireland is announced. The 6 Northern counties remain within the United Kingdom.
The movie, The Quiet Man, directed by John Ford, starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara and Barry Fitzgerald, and filmed in the West Ireland, is a major and enduring worldwide hit.
Elizabeth II is crowned queen of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland joins the United Nations.
Éamon de Valera becomes president of Ireland; he is re-elected in 1966 at the age of 84.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, great-grandson of Famine immigrants, becomes the 35th president of the United States. His 1963 visit to Ireland is a triumph.
Traditional Irish musicians, the Clancy Brothers, in concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall, create a sensation.
President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. A day of national mourning is declared in Ireland.
Dublin’s Nelson’s Pillar, commemorating the English naval hero of the Napoleonic Wars, is blown up on the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising.
A grass-roots movement in Northern Ireland, inspired by civil rights campaigns in the United States, leads to occupation by British troops, internment without trial and, after 1972, direct rule from Westminster.
Dubliner Samuel Beckett receives the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The British Army opens fire on a peaceful civil rights demonstration in Derry, killing 13 unarmed Catholics (another victim dies from wounds); “Bloody Sunday” focuses world media attention on what becomes the Northern Ireland conflict.
Republic of Ireland becomes a member of the European Economic Community, thus altering the nation’s agricultural, economic and political landscape. A decade of social reform follows.
The exhibition Treasures of Early Irish Art opens at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, drawing record crowds.
Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland is a huge success.
1980 – 1981
IRA prisoners go on Hunger strike to demand political status from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Bobby Sands and nine others die.
United States President Ronald Reagan visits Ireland, his ancestral home.
The film version of Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot, the story of Dublin writer Christy Brown, wins two Academy Awards.
A single European market is created to serve a combined population of over 500 million. The euro replaces the Irish pound in 2002.
IRA ceasefire is declared in Northern Ireland, led by political leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, later deputy first minister of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government.
President Mary Robinson opens Ireland’s Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, County Roscommon, on the site once owned by a landlord murdered during the Famine years.
The official visit to Ireland and Northern Ireland by President Bill Clinton and First Lady, Hillary Clinton, is a triumph. Poet Seamus Heaney, from Northern Ireland, is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The “Celtic Tiger” marks a period of rapid growth in the nation’s economy and national prosperity unequaled in Ireland’s history. It ends abruptly in a dramatic recession in 2008.
Frank McCourt’s searing Irish memoir, Angela’s Ashes, wins the Pulitzer Prize for Biography.
The Good Friday Agreement, championed by civil rights veteran John Hume and brokered by former United States Senator George Mitchell, officially ends conflict in Northern Ireland.
The World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia are attacked. National Day of Mourning observed in Ireland.
New York Governor George Pataki opens the Irish Hunger Memorial at Battery Park City in lower Manhattan.
Selections from Ireland’s Great Hunger collection are displayed at Ireland’s Consulate General in New York City. The exhibition is opened by Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.
The Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday (1972) is published, prompting an apology from Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh make a state visit to the Republic of Ireland at the invitation of the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese.
Enda Kenny, Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland, introduces Barack Obama, President of the United States and his wife, Michelle, to a rapturous Dublin audience.
Michael D. Higgins becomes the ninth President of Ireland. Higgins is a politician, poet, sociologist, author and broadcaster.
According to the Central Statistics Office, due to the ongoing economic recession, more than 3,000 Irish people are leaving Ireland each month. It is the highest rate of emigration from Ireland since the Famine.
Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, Músaem an Ghorta Mhóir, opens at 3011 Whitney Avenue in Hamden, Connecticut.