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Main events in Irish History 1921- 1966

This document was written by Stephen Tonge. I am most grateful to have his kind permission to include it on the web site.

  • June Sir James Craig became the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
  • July Truce ended the War of Independence.
  • December Anglo - Irish Treaty signed which created the Irish Free State.
  • January: Treaty narrowly approved by Dail Eireann.
  • June Attack on the Four Courts marked the beginning of the Civil War.
  • August Death of Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins.
  • September Third Dail assembled. William T. Cosgrave, President of the executive council (or head of Government). The King was head of state and his representative in Ireland was the Governor General.
  • May The Civil War ended.
  • September Irish Free State entered the League of Nations
  • March: "Army Mutiny" crushed by Kevin O' Higgins. The National Army was never to question or try to undermine the lawful government after this event.
  • November: Findings of the Boundary Commission leaked. Irish government agreed to maintain the existing border thereby making Partition permanent.
  • May De Valera set up Fianna Fail.
  • July Kevin O' Higgins assassinated.
  • In August Fianna Fail forced to take the oath and enter the Dail. The party emerged as the main challenger to Cumman nan Gaedhael.
  • October: Shannon hydro-electric scheme commenced operations.
  • December: The Statute of Westminster gave effective legislative independence to the Dominions of the British Empire.
  • February Foundation of the Blueshirts (The Army Comrades Association). De Valera and Fianna Fail came to power in the election of that month as the leaders of a minority government. They were to remain in office until 1948.
  • June Land Annuity payments to Britain withheld. Economic war between Britain and Ireland began
  • May Oath removed from the constitution. This was part of de Valera’s policy of dismantling the Treaty. Role of the Governor General greatly reduced also.
  • August: Blueshirts outlawed. In the following month, the Blueshirts, Cumann na nGaedheal and the Centre party joined together to form Fine Gael.
  • December: Coal - Cattle pacts (with Britain) eased the Economic war.
  • December: Abdication of King Edward VIII allowed de Valera to remove references to the crown and the Governor General from the Constitution.
  • June A new constitution “Bunreacht nah Eireann” approved by a narrow majority in a referendum. The new constitution made “Ireland a republic in all but name”.
  • April Anglo- Irish agreement ended the trade war. Treaty ports returned to Irish control.
  • September: Southern Ireland declared its neutrality on the outbreak of WW II.
  • November: J.M. Andrews succeeded Craig as prime minister of Northern Ireland.
  • April-May Belfast heavily bombed by the Germans.
  • April: Sir Basil Brooke became Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
  • Pensions, Free education and hospital care introduced into Northern Ireland after World War II (The welfare State).
  • February: Fianna Fail lost its grip on power. Coalition government under J.A. Costello took over. This was called the first Inter-Party government.
  • December: Ireland left the Commonwealth and became a republic.
  • April: Crisis over Noel Browne’s proposed “Mother and Child” scheme.
    May General election: Fianna Fail returned to power under de Valera.
  • May Second Inter-Party government elected with Costello as leader.
  • December: Ireland joined the U.N.
  • March Fianna Fail returned to power. They were to stay in government until 1973.
  • December Publication of T.K. Whitaker’s Economic Development that led to the first Programme of Economic Expansion that heralded a period of rapid economic growth in Ireland.
  • June De Valera elected president and Sean Lemass succeeded him as Taoiseach.
  • December RTE. began broadcasting for the first time.
  • March Terence O’Neill took over as prime minister of Northern Ireland from Brooke.
  • January Lemass and O’Neill met in Belfast and the following month in Dublin.
  • April 50 anniversary of the 1916 rising.
  • November Jack Lynch replaced Lemass as Taoiseach.

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