Some Key Background Events - 1858  to 1918

Note:  This page is designed to give only the briefest of background to the 1919 to 1923 period with a little more detail for the years before 1919


Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) Founded

Curran J M (1980), pg3





Fenian (IRB) Insurrection

Curran J M (1980), pg4





IRB Re-organised and revitalised – they decide on ‘entryist’ policy into Irish/Ireland Movement.

Curran J M (1980), pg5





Dissident Liberals join with Tories to defeat Gladstone/Parnell Home Rule Bill

Curran J M (1980), pg1





Fall of Parnell

Curran J M (1980), pg1





Gaelic League founded

Curran J M (1980), pg2





Sinn Féin founded by Arthur Griffith

Curran J M (1980), pg2





ITGWU founded by Jim Larkin

Curran J M (1980), pg2





Pop of Ireland is 4,390,319 (In 6 counties of what was to be NI 820,370 Protestants and 430,161 Catholics - Catholic majority in Fermanagh and Tyrone)

Curran J M (1980), pg296


Opposition to Home rule Bill by Carson and Ulster Volunteer Force - Pledge- supported by Bonar Law

Curran J M (1980), pg6





Asquith (Lib) gets Home Rule Bill passed - Law in 2 years

Curran J M (1980), pg4





Lock-out - Unions defeated – Irish Citizens Army founded to protect strikers.

Curran J M (1980), pg6


Irish Volunteers founded by Eoin O'Neill (+IRB) - eventually supported by Irish Party

Curran J M (1980), pg6





200,000 in Irish Volunteers and 100,000 in Ulster Volunteer Force

Curran J M (1980), pg7


Split in Irish Volunteers after war starts with National Volunteers going with Redmond and in support of British war effort.  About 13,000 left in Irish Volunteers

Curran J M (1980), pg8


Home Rule enacted but suspended

Curran J M (1980), pg8


IRB and Connolly decide for rebellion

Curran J M (1980), pg9





IRB Military Council founded and headed by Pearse

Curran J M (1980), pg9





Easter Rising in Dublin (Monday 24th to Saturday 29th April) - 800 turn out with about another 800 joining during the week - 60 rebels killed, 132 British (including 16 police) and more than 300 civilians killed.

Curran J M (1980), pg11


15 rebel leaders shot and Casement hung - 97 death sentences commuted

Curran J M (1980), pg12


Afterwards 3500 rebel suspects lifted, 1500 let go almost immediately, 1800 interned in England (most ~1300 let go quickly)

Curran J M (1980), pg11


Lloyd George made Prime Minister

Curran J M (1980), pg13


All remaining internees released - 150 prisoners still held

Curran J M (1980), pg14








Count Plunkett wins seat for Sinn Féin in Roscommon

O'Farrell P (1997) P (1997), pg xiv


John Redmond dies and succeeded as leader of Irish Party by John Dillon

Curran J M (1980), pg15


Irish Volunteer meeting in Dublin leads to formation of National Executive



Joseph McGuiness wins seat for Sinn Féin  in South Longford while in prison

O'Farrell P (1997) P (1997), pg xiv


Convention called – Sinn Féin & Labour Party boycott - attended by Irish Party, Unionists and Bishops - Kept going until April 1918

Curran J M (1980), pg15


Remaining prisoners released including De Valera 

Curran J M (1980), pg14


De Valera wins seat for Sinn Féin in East Clare.  An Irish Volunteer (Daniel Scanlon) is shot dead during victory celebrations.  An RIC man (Constable Lyons) is found guilty but no action is taken against him. 

O'Farrell P (1997), pg xiv and pg 93


WT Cosgrave wins seat in Kilkenny for Sinn Fein

Curran J M (1980), pg17


Thomas Ashe, leader of the successful Ashbourne ambush during 1916 Rising and President of IRB, dies due to force-feeding in Mountjoy Prison during a hunger strike.  Massive funeral procession organised for him.

O'Farrell P (1997), pg 4


Sinn Féin Ard Fheis - 1,700 delegates – De Valera elected President; Griffith as Vice-President and Michael Collins on Executive

Curran J M (1980), pg18; Deasy (1973), pg 16


Irish Volunteer Convention - De Valera elected President and Cathal Brugha chief-of-staff and Collins on Executive and Director of Organisation

Curran J M (1980), pg18  O'Donnoghue F (1986), pg 15








GHQ staff for Irish Volunteers set up with Richard Mulcahy (formerly O/C Dublin Brigade) as Chief-of-Staff and Michael Collins as Director of Organisation.  Dick McKee takes over as O/C Dublin Brigade.

Hopkinson (2002), pg 16


Conscription Bill passed by British House of Commons - heightening the conscription crisis

O'Donnoghue (1986), pg21


Lord French appointed Viceroy and Edward Shortt as Chief Secretary

O'Donnoghue (1986), pg22

May-17 & 18

Sinn Féin leaders jailed (including De Valera, Plunkett, Griffith and MacNeil) - "German Plot"

Curran J M (1980), pg19


Pat O’Sullivan and Dan Harrington from Kilnamatyra, Co. Cork disarm two RIC men at Béal na nGleanna.

O’Farrell (1997), pg 85


1st World War ends

Curran J M (1980), pg19


Election in Britain and Ireland.  Lloyd George elected to head coalition of Tories & some Liberals.

Curran J M (1980), pg20


Polling day of General Election in Great Britain and Ireland (except for University constituencies).  Sinn Féin wins 73 out of 105 seats - the remaining seats are 23 Northern Unionists; 6 Irish Party and 3 Southern Unionists.  Sinn Féin received only 48% of votes cast - however it received 65% of vote outside Six counties and there were 26 unopposed constituencies. 

Curran J M (1980), pg21; Figgis 1927, pg 225; Walker (1992), pgs 4-9