The Parliament in Westminster passed an Act of Union formally uniting Ireland with Britain and abolished the Irish parliament. The Act of Union entailed the loss of legislative independence of Ireland. It became effective on January 1, 1801. Catholics could not vote in the Westminster parliament.
The first Christian Brother School was opened in Waterford.
1803July 23, Irish patriots throughout the country rebelled against Union with Great Britain. Robert Emmet led the insurrection in Dublin. Emmet was executed on September 20.
1812Commencement of the War of 1812 when the United States declared war against Great Britain and Ireland.
1814Police Force established in Ireland (it subsequently became the Irish Constabulary).
1823Daniel O'Connell, a Catholic barrister, helped found the Catholic Association. It sought to bring about ‘Catholic Emancipation’, that is, giving Catholics the right to sit in the Westminster parliament.
1827Catherine McAuley (1787-1841), founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin.
1828Daniel O’Connell was elected in a by-election in County Clare. As a Catholic, he could not take his seat in parliament.
1829O’Connell ‘s electoral success resulted in the granting of Catholic Emancipation, giving Catholics throughout the United Kingdom the right to sit in the Westminster parliament. O’Connell’s achievement was celebrated by the Catholic throughout the world. He then turned his attention to repealing the Union with Britain. Increasingly, nationalist sentiments became identified mainly with Catholics.
1837Victoria accedes to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland.
1838A Poor Law, based on the English model, was introduced to Ireland. The country was divided into 130 Poor Law ‘unions’, each with its own workhouse.
1840Daniel O’Connell founded the Loyal National Repeal Association, which aimed to overturn the Act of Union of 1800.
1841A General Election in the United Kingdom gives Sir Robert Peel’s Conservative Party a majority in the House of Commons.
1842A group of supporters of O’Connell establish a newspaper, the Nation, which promotes cultural nationalism. The group was referred to as ‘Young Ireland’.
1843O’Connell announced that this would be ‘Repeal Year’, that is, the year that the Act of Union would be overturned. But the year ended disastrously and O’Connell was briefly imprisoned in the following year.
1845In August, the Irish potato crop was attacked by a previously unknown fungus, Phytophthora infestans. It was first noticed in counties Dublin and Fermanagh. The disease blackened the potato leaves and caused the tubers in the ground to putrefy. In this year, approximately 40 per cent of the crop was infected. The British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, introduces a number of measures (public works, financial grants, opening relief depots, importing food), which proved to be successful. Nobody died in the first year of shortages.
The British Prime Minister, Peel, uses the appearance of blight in Ireland to repeal the Corn Laws. The Corn Laws had taxed imported oats, wheat and barley, and so kept prices artificially high. Many members of the Conservative Party did not support Peel and in June 1846, he resigned as Premier.
The blight returned to Ireland, but it appeared earlier in the harvest season and was far more destructive than in the previous year. As Ireland’s potato crop was consumed by blight. The nation’s peasants, who relied on the potato as their primary food source, starved. The famine took as many as one million lives from hunger and disease and caused mass emigration. After 1846, the British government responded to the calamity too late and with too little aid, even though eyewitnesses reported the suffering in the press and government officials kept politicians and civil servants informed about the unfolding tragedy and the consequent mortality.
1847The public works are closed down and replaced by government soup kitchens. At harvest, the Poor Law is made responsible for providing all relief. This change confirms the principle that Irish taxes should pay for Irish distress. A Vagrancy Act was also introduced to combat begging as famine swept Ireland.
1848Over one million people were dependent on the Poor Law for relief, demonstrating that the Famine was far from over.
1849A ‘rate-in-aid’ tax was introduced into Ireland: a tax was levied on each Poor Law Union in Ireland and then re-distributed to the poorest unions by the British Treasury.
1852Lady (Isabella Augusta) Gregory, Irish playwright, was born. She helped found the Abbey Theatre. Her husband, William Gregory, had been responsible for the 1847 ‘Gregory Clause’ that had stipulated that any person who occupied more than one quarter of an acre of land could not receive relief.
1854October 16, the writer Oscar Wilde was born (as Fingal O'Flahertie Wills). His mother, Lady Jane (Speranza) Wilde, also a gifted writer, had been a member of Young Ireland. Her harrowing poem, ‘The Famine Year’, was published in the Nation in 1847.
1856The dramatist George Bernard Shaw was born. His play, Man and Superman (1903) he refers to the years of suffering:
1858March 17 - the Fenian Brotherhood, a brigade of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), a secret revolutionary group, was founded in Dublin by James Stephens. John O'Mahony headed the IRB's American wing, popularly known as the Fenian Brotherhood, which was composed of immigrants and Irish Americans whose ultimate goal was to free Ireland from British rule and establish a republic.
1864September 1, Roger David Casement, Irish nationalist (Easter Rising, 1916), was born.
1865June 13, William Butler Yeats (d.1939), Irish poet and playwright, was born.
1866June 2 - renegade Irish Fenians surrendered to US forces.
1867March - an abortive Fenian uprising against British rule took place in Ireland. The unsuccessful rebellion by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, better known as the Fenians, gave Australia its final generation of transported convicts.
April 7, Thomas D’Arcy McGee, Irish patriot, author and former Young Irelander, was assassinated in Ottawa, Canada. Patrick J. Whelan, a Fenian sympathizer, was convicted and hanged for the crime.
May 26, Michael Barrett of Fermanagh, a Fenian, was executed in the last British public execution.
1869The Anglican Church in Ireland was disestablished, thus losing its special privileges.
Home Government Association was founded, which evolved into the Home Rule movement.
British politician, William Gladstone, introduces the first Land Act, which improves conditions for the tenantry.
1871John Millington Synge, dramatist, poet, and author of Playboy of the Western World, was born.
1875Charles Stewart Parnell elected MP for County Meath.
The potato crop is poor leading to the threat of famine. This results in an increase in evictions.Land League founded.
1879-1882The Land War. This period of passive resistance against evictions was master-minded by Michael Davitt, whose family had been evicted in 1846 from County Mayo. The Parnell sisters played a key role also.
1880Irish tenant farmers, seeking rent cuts after poor harvests, staged a protest and refused to respond to eviction notices from estate manager Charles Boycott. Boycott was an English land agent in Ireland, died in England. His tenants ‘boycotted’ him into poverty. The tactic of boycotting gave us the word whose last name became part of the English language.
Gladstone's second Land Act.Parnell imprisoned for his opposition to the Land Act.
The Kilmainham ‘Treaty’ was agreed between Gladstone and Parnell. It promised to improve the condition of tenants. It was signed in Kilmainham Jail, where Parnell had been imprisoned.
Parnell's release from jail.
The Phoenix Park murders, when the Chief Secretary and the Permanent Under Secretary for Ireland were murdered in the Phoenix Park caused widespread outrage. The murder was carried out by a break-away republican group known as the Invincibles.
February 2, James Joyce, Irish novelist and poet, was born near Dublin.
October 14, Éamon De Valera, survivor of the 1916 Rising and Taoiseach and President of Ireland, was born in New York.
1884The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was founded in Ireland to promote traditional Irish sports.
The first Home Rule Bill was introduced by Gladstone into the British parliament. It was defeated.
The Unionist Party, which opposed Home Rule for Ireland, was founded.
1888Barry Fitzgerald, actor, was born in Dublin.
1890Michael Collins, Irish republican and survivor of the 1916 Rising, was born in County Cork.
1891Parnell lost three by-elections in Ireland. He died in England. He had been leader of the Irish nationalists in the British House of Commons from 1880 to 1890. Parnell’s popularity in Ireland was so great that he was called ‘the uncrowned king of Ireland’.
The second Home Rule Bill was introduced into the British parliament but was defeated.Gaelic League founded.
Liam O’Flaherty, Irish novelist, was born.
Bewley’s Oriental Cafes opened a shop on Westmoreland Street in Dublin, Ireland. It later became a hangout for James Joyce.
1899Elizabeth Bowen, novelist and short story writer, was born in Dublin.
Queen Victoria, aged 82, visited Ireland for the fourth and last time. Her visit infuriated ‘advanced’ nationalists, such as Maud Gonne, and socialists, like James Connolly.