History of 20th Century Ireland
By the early 1900’s more and more nationalist groups appeared in Ireland inspired by the Irish cultural rival of the late 1800’s and the thought of independence from Britain.
Groups such as Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican brotherhood, the Irish volunteers and the Irish citizen army had been formed.
In 1912 the Westminster Parliament in London passed the Home Rule Bill for Ireland, meaning that Ireland would have its own parliament and could make its own political decisions, to a certain extent of course. Unionists in Ireland strongly opposed Home Rule as they were loyal to Britain and seen the bill as a threat that could lead to a nationalist & Catholic dominated country.
The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was form by Unionist leader Edward Carson & James Craig, their goal? To defend the British nation of Ireland, by use of force if necessary. Within a year it was estimated the UVF had a force of over 100,000 men half of which armed with rifles.
As Ireland was heading fast towards civil war the First World War helped lead Ireland more towards independence from Britain. Unionists answered Britain’s call for the fight against Germany and the UVF merged into the 36th Ulster division of the British Army.
As Britain concentrated all its efforts in the fight against Germany in WWI Ireland seen a window of opportunity and by 1915 the Irish Republican Brotherhood started their plot of a rebellion.
The Irish Rebellion of 1916
On Easter Sunday of 1916 the Irish rebellion began with Patrick Pearse reading the Irish Proclamation of Independence
The 1916 Rebellion had only lasted a week with Britain successfully regaining control of Dublin, after destroying most of the city. 14 leaders of the uprising were captured and executed, an event that fuelled Irish political opinions for years to follow.
The only surviving commander of the rebellion was Sinn Fein leader, Eamon De Valera who went onto to be president. Support for Sein Fein dramatically increased due to the execution of the rebellion leaders who fought for Ireland’s independence.
The Partition of Ireland
On 21 January 1919 the parliament of a self proclaimed Irish Republic established the declaration of the independence with the outbreak of the Irish War of Independence occurring 2 years later. 12 months later the war ends with the signing of the Anglo-Irish treaty by the British and representatives from the self proclaimed Irish republic.
The Irish Free State was now in existence but without 6 counties that was to become Northern Ireland.
British oppression continued in Ireland against the Irish nationalists with November 1920 being an extremely bloody month. Irish hatred for Britain on Irish soil was fuelled even more when Kevin Barry, a member of the IRA, was captured and executed. Kevin was 18 years of age and was sentenced to death by the British military; he was hanged on 1 November 1920.
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 was introduced which divided Ireland into two territories, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. In 1921 the first Northern Ireland Parliament opened and after a long rebellion with the British, Southern Ireland is granted a partial home rule.
Michael Collins assisted in setting up the Irish Free State, thinking it was a stepping stone for an all Ireland, which contained 26 Counties of Ireland but he was later assassinated during the Irish Civil War by those who opposed of the partition.
The Republic of Ireland
By 1949 Southern Ireland ceased being part of the British Commonwealth and became, officially, the Republic of Ireland.
In Northern Ireland the British gave constitutional guarantees to the Parliament at Stormount that they will remain part of the United Kingdom with the consent of the majority of the people in Northern Ireland, which at that time was Protestants, descendants of Scottish and English people who were part of the earlier Ulster Plantations. Although the Unionist Protestants would have wished for the power of the whole of Ireland they felt they had no choice but to accept the new State of Northern Ireland.
From this date on the conflict in Northern Ireland grew stronger and was soon to be called ‘The Troubles’ and was classed as “The Dirty War” by some.
History Timeline of 20th Century Ireland
- 1905 – Sinn Féin is founded
- 1914 – The outbreak of World War 1
- 1916 – The Easter Rising Sunday
- 1919 – The Irish War of Independence
- 1920 – The formation of the Black and Tans
- 1920 – The Ulster Special Constabulary is formed
- 1920 – Government of Ireland Act of 1920
- 1921 – The formation of Northern Ireland
- 1922 – The Start of the Irish Civil War
- 1922 – Michael Collins is killed
- 1922 – Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) is disbanded
- 1922 – The Garda Síochána is formed
- 1922 – The Royal Ulster Constabulary is formed in Northern Ireland
- 1923 – The Irish Civil War comes to an end
- 1926 – Fianna Fáil political party is formed
- 1932 – Eamon De Valera becomes Prime Minister
- 1933 – Fine Gael (The United Ireland Party) policitical party is formed
- 1936 – The IRA is banned by Éamon de Valera
- 1937 – Éire (Ireland) is established
- 1939 – The outbreak of World War II and Ireland
- 1949 – Eire becomes The Republic of Ireland
- 1957 – Eamon De Valera becomes president of the Republic of Ireland
- 1959 – Eamon De Valera resigns from Fianna Fáil
- 1963 – Terence O’ Neill becomes forth Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
- 1967 – The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) is founded
- 1969 – The Battle of the Bogside in Derry city occurs. The start of the Northern Ireland troubles
- 1972 – Bloody Sunday occurs. Fourteen people are killed by the British Army
- 1973 – The IRA start their bombing campaign in England
- 1974 – The Irish National Liberation Army (Arm Saoirse Náisiúnta na hÉireann – INLA) is formed
- 1974 – The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) is founded
- 1985 – The Anglo-Irish Agreement is signed
- 1990 – Mary Robinson becomes first woman President of Ireland
- 1997 – Mary McAleese becomes President of Ireland
- 1998 – The Good Friday Agreement is signed by Irish and UK governments
- 1998 – The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) is reformed into the Police Service of Northern Ireland
- 1999 – Nuala O’Loan becomes the first Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland