03 May 2014

Timeline of Irish republicanism

1778 – Establishment of the first Irish Volunteers, which remain as a force until 1793; in the beginning the members are almost entirely Protestant and Dissenter, with Protestant Ascendancy leaders, but gradually Catholics are admitted as well.

1782 – Henry Grattan persuades the London Parliament to grant the Dublin Parliament greater powers.

1784-1786 – Third wave of Whiteboy activity in Ireland.

1784 – Organization of the Catholic Defenders and of the Protestant (Anglican) Peep O'Day Boys in Co. Armagh.

1789-1794 – French Revolution.

1791 – Publication of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man

Society of United Irishmen founded by Theobald Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell, both from the Established Church of Ireland, at the invitation of a group of Belfast Presbyterians. 

1792 – Two groups calling themselves the Friends of the People Society are organized in London and in Edinburgh respectively, the latter by Thomas Muir, under the inspiration of Thomas Paine.

1795 – United Irishmen change their goal to complete sovereignty. 

The Peep O’Day Boys reorganize as the Orange Order to oppose both the United Irishmen and the proposed Union of the Dublin Parliament with that of London; membership is limited to members of the Church of Ireland.

1797 – Organization of the United Englishmen. 

Rising of the United Scotsmen.

1798 – First Rising of the United Irishmen, under Tone.  It includes the short period of the Republic of Connacht.  After the defeat of the main forces, those left continue as guerrillas in some places until 1804.

1800 – United Irish Rising in Newfoundland.

1801 – Act of Union, uniting the Parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland.  The realm is now known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

1803 – Second Rising of the United Irishmen, under Robert Emmet.

1817 – The Ribbon Society first makes its presence felt in the countryside of Ireland.  Their activities continue past mid-century.

1822 – The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) is established.

1823 – Daniel O’Connell establishes the Catholic Association in Dublin for emancipation from the Penal Laws.

1829 – The Catholic Relief Act passed this year (there have been others in previous years) removes most of the remaining Penal Laws.

1830-1836 – The Tithe War in Ireland against the Church of Ireland, primarily supported by the Ribbonmen.

1834 – Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and other “Dissenters” first admitted to the Orange Order.

1836 – Organization in New York City of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), which later spreads to Ireland.

1840 - O'Connell founds the Repeal Association with an aim toward repealing the Union of Parliaments of 1800.

1841 – Repeal of the Union Movement is formed; Young Ireland Movement is later formed for more radical goals and actions.

1845-1849 – The Great Irish Potato Famine.  Due to a blight on the potato crop, the staple of the Irish diet, between 1 ½ to 2 million Irish starve to death even while enough food to feed the entire country twice over is exported from the country by the corporate interests which control the island’s trade, with another 1 million emigrating to other countries.

1847 – The Irish Confederation is organized, with Young Irelanders as its backbone.

1848 – Young Ireland Rising, part of the Springtime of Nations, the revolts in France, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, Venetia, Italy, Sicily, Rome, Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Saxony, Prussia, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Schleswig, Wallachia, Moldavia, and Rumania.

1858 – Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa begins organizing the Phoenix National and Literary Society, which later merges with the IRB.

The Fenian Brotherhood (FB) is organized in America and the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) in Ireland.

1862-1865 – The American Civil War.  Immigrant Irish, many of them republican, fight on both sides of the war, mostly for the Union.

1866 – FB splits into the O'Mahony Wing and the Roberts, or Senate, Wing; each wing launches its own invasion of Canada and both fail.

1871 – The Church of Ireland is at last disestablished by Parliament. 

1873 – Home Rule League founded.

1876 – The CnG, the IRB, and the Australian Irish community establish the Revolutionary Directory, with three representatives each from the CnG and IRB, plus one from the Australian Irish expat community.

1879 – Irish Land League founded.

1880 – Fenian Brotherhood finally collapses.

1882 – Irish National League reorganized as the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP); Irish Unionist Party founded in opposition.

1882-1883 – Campaign of the Invincibles, led by O’Donovan Rossa.

1884 – Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) founded.

1889 – The Socialist International is organized in Paris.

1892 – John Redmond assumes leadership of IPP.

1893 – Gaelic League founded by Douglas Hyde, a Protestant from County Roscommon.

1896 – Irish Socialist Republican Party founded by James Connolly.

1899-1902 – Nationalist and Unionist Irish and Irish-Americans fight on the side of the Afrikaaners against the British during the Second Boer War in the Irish Transvaal Brigade and the Second Irish Brigade.

1900 – Maud Gonne organizes Inginidhe na hEireann to promote Irish culture and nationalism among Irish women.

1901 – The United Irish League of America is founded to support the goals of the Irish Parliamentary Party. 

1905 – Sinn Fein Party founded.  Ulster Unionist Council founded.

1907 – The Ancient Order of Hibernians splits between the AOH (Irish-American Alliance), mostly in America and tied to Clan-na-Gael (and known simply as AOH-American Alliance in Ireland), and AOH (Board of Erin), mostly in Ireland, which came to support the IPP.

1908 – Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU) founded by James Larkin.

1909 – Na Fianna Eireann founded by Constance Markievicz and Bulmer Hobson to promote nationalist ideals among boys and adolescent young men.

James Larkin founds the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU).

1910 – Clan na Gael Girl Guides founded by the Kelly sisters May and Elizabeth with the same purpose for girls and adolescent young women as Na Fianna Eireann for boys.

1911 – Delia Larkin, her brother James, and Rose Hackett organize the Irish Women Workers Union (IWWU) in Dublin.

1913 – Ulster Volunteers founded by Edward Carson and James Craig under the Ulster Unionist Council.  Irish National Volunteer Corps (INVC) is founded by John Redmond in response to Carson and Craig.  Irish Citizen Army founded by Jack White, James Larkin, and James Connolly.  The Hibernian Rifles are also started by J. J. Scollan of AOH (AA) this year.

1914-1919 - The Great War, also known as the First World War.

1914 – INVC splits into the “National Volunteers” under Redmond, who supports Great Britain during WWI, and the “Irish Volunteers” under Eoin MacNeill.  Cumann na mBan is founded by Kathleen Clarke, Shora MacMahon, and others, with Jennie Wyse-Power is elected President; two years later CMB officially becomes the women’s auxilary of the Irish Volunteers.  The Citizen Army Scouts youth adjunct to ICA is organized by Seamus MacGowan based on his group the Irish National Guard, a breakaway from the Fianna Eireann, with help from Constance Markievicz and Michael Mallin.

1916 – The Easter Rising by the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic (“Saorstat Eireann”) and the Army of the Irish Republic composed of the Irish Volunteers, Irish Citizen Army, Fianna Eireann, Cumann na Bann, and AOH’s Hibernian Rifles.  Though most of the major action takes place in the City of Dublin, provincial units rise in Cos. Louth, Meath, Wexford, Galway, and Cork, with members of Cumann na mBan providing support in every area of operation and every post or garrison inside Dublin City.

After the Rising, the Friends of Irish Freedom is founded in America to support the republican prisoners-of-war from the Easter Rising in the aftermath of the sixteen executions which follow.

1919-1922 – Irish War of Independence, with the Irish republican side directed mostly from behind the scenes by the IRB under its President, Michael Collins.

1919 – Irish Volunteers officially become the Irish Republican Army, and includes a Scottish Brigade.

1920 – The RIC organizes the RIC Reserve Force (Black and Tans), the Auxiliary Division (Auxies), and the Ulster Special Constabulary (A-, B-, and C- Specials, USC) to provide support against the IRA.

1921 – Anglo-Irish Treaty; Partition of Ireland into Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State or “Saorstat Eireann”.  The Supreme Council of the IRB, with one exception (Liam Lynch) votes to accept the Treaty.  The CnG does likewise; however, it splits into a Devoy wing and a McGarrity wing called Clan na Gael Reorganized.

1922-1923 – Irish Civil War.

1922 – The IRA divides into the Free Staters and the Irregulars, both using the names IRA until the Free State forces officially change their English designation to Irish Defense Forces; however, both continue using the Irish designation Óglaigh na hÉireann.  Redmondites returning from service with the British army on the continent are recruited en masse into the IDF.  The Royal Ulster Constabulary is established in Northeast Ulster.  Michael Collins dies in a firefight in County Cork.

1923 – The IRA reorganizes itself as a clandestine organization, allied with Sinn Fein as its political arm.  Pro-Treaty former members of Sinn Fein under William Cosgrave form the Cumann na nGaedheal.

1924 – The IRB votes to dissolve, after which the Devoy wing of CnG does likewise; the McGarrity wing, however, continues on as the sole CnG.

1925 – The IRA severs its relationship with Sinn Fein. 

1926 – CnG formally associates with the reorganized IRA. 

Eamon DeValera establishes the Fianna Fail to contest elections, which later separates completely from the IRA.  The A- and C-Specials of the USC are disbanded.

1927 – The London government changes its name to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

1929 - Roddy Connolly organizes the Workers Defense Corps, which is proscribed two years later.

1931 – Peadar O’Donnell and others organize Saor Eire as a left-leaning nationalist political party, but the effort fizzles.

1932 – Hundreds of working-class Catholics and Protestants across Northeast Ulster unite to form the Outdoor Workers Relief Committee; in spite of massive assaults by the B-Specials on Shankhill Road and Falls Road, the resulting strike is successful and the movement spreads.  Richard Mulcahy and others form the Army Comrades Association, made up of former IRA men who supported the Treaty side during the Civil War, to provide support for former Free State soldiers and to protect Cumann meetings from attack by members of the IRA.

1933 – Eoin O'Duffy is expelled from his post as head of the Garda Síochána, then takes over the ACA and changes its name to the National Guard (aka Blueshirts).  When that is banned a few months later, the former ACA members, Cumann na nGaedheal, and National Centre Party band together to form Fine Gael.

1934 – O’Donnell and his allies reorganize under the name Republican Congress and are expelled from the IRA, which splits down the middle.  The RC eventually gains adherents even in the Shankill section of Belfast, and includes a delegation from Shankhill calling themselves the James Connolly Club in its march at Bodenstown this year, but collapses two years later due to lack of funds.

The RC included as its armed wing a revived Irish Citizen Army, which split into two factions the following year, both of which faded with the parent organization.  

1935 – O’Duffy loses control of Fine Gael and withdraws from it, founding the National Corporate Party (aka Greenshirts).

1936-1939 – Republicans and loyalists fight in the Spanish Civil War in the same unit of the International Brigades (many in the Connolly Column), while Blueshirts and Greenshirts under O’Duffy fight on the side of Franco’s Nationalists.

1939-1945 – The Second World War.

1939-1940 – IRA’s Sabotage Campaign in England.

1942-1944 – IRA’s Northern Campaign in the Six Counties.

1946 – On the heels of the Second World War, IRA leader Sean MacBride organizes the leftist republican Clann na Poblachta.

1949 - Brendan O'Boyle, formerly of IRA's Northern Command, organizes Laochra Uladh, which ended with his death in action in 1955.


1950 – An Irish Republican Brotherhood is formed in Dublin and disbanded by Cathal Goulding the next year.

1951 – Liam Kelly organizes Saor Uladh after being expelled from the IRA.  Raymond O'Cianain's Arm na Saoirse is absorbed into IRA.

1953 – Kelly establishes Fianna Uladh as the political wing of Saor Uladh.

1955 - The Christle Groups forms around its eponymous founder, Joe Christle, after he is expelled from IRA.  The group allies with Saor Uladh.

1956-1962 – IRA’s Border Campaign.

1956 – IRA publishes its first Green Book, in which individual members are referred to as Guerrillas. 

Ian Paisley forms the Ulster Protection Action.

1957 – Richard Behel founds the Saor Eire Action Group.

1965 – Paisley forms the Ulster Constitution Committee and the paramilitary Ulster Protestant Volunteers.

1966 – A new Ulster Volunteer Force is established.  Ulster Protestant Action becomes the Protestant Unionist Party.

1967 – Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association is organized.

Saor Eire, with a Trotskyite orientation, is organized by former IRA members headed by ex-Dublin Brigade OC Frank Keane.

1969-1998 – The Troubles.

1969 – The Battle of the Bogside. 

The IRA splits into two, the Official Irish Republican Army and the Reorganized IRA following the “Provisional” Army Council (later called the Provisional IRA). 

Foundation in the USA of the Irish Northern Aid Committee (NORAID) by Martin Galvin.

1970 – A split in republican ranks over policy in Northeast Ulster and the turn toward Marxism-Leninism results in an Official Sinn Fein and a Provisional Sinn Fein. 

The B-Specials are finally dissolved and most join the new Ulster Defense Regiment.

1971 – The Democratic Unionist Party succeeds the Protestant Unionist Party. 

Beginning of internment of both republican and loyalist suspects in the cages at Long Kesh.

Provos wishing to carry out sectarian attacks against Protestants organize the Red Flag Avengers (RFA) in Belfast, and remain active thru 1976.

The Irish Citizen Army forms in Belfast and Newry, but dies out by the mid-1970's.

1972 – The 1st Battalion of the Royal Parachute Regiment fires on a NICRA civil rights march in the city of Derry, killing fourteen and wounding many others, an incident now known as Bloody Sunday.

The Ulster Defense Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters (UDA/UFF) is organized as an umbrella group of loyalist paramilitaries.  The (new) Red Hand Commando is organized.

Tinnelly's Brigade forms in south Co. Down out of OIRA volunteers opposed to the Official Army Council's ceasefire.  It remains active for two years.

1973-1978 – Activities of the South Derry Independent Republican Unit, which includes Francie Hughes, Dominic McGlinchey, Thomas McElwee, Joe Sheridan, Ian Milne, et al.

1974 – Three simultaneous bombings in Dublin and another in Monaghan one and a half hours later, the work of the UVF, kill 33 and wound over 300.

Seamus Costello organizes the Irish Republican Socialist Party and the Irish National Liberation Army.

The Ulster Workers Council Strike destroys the Sunningdale Agreement.

The Armagh People's Republican Army (APRA) is founded in Co. Armagh and remains active into 1977.

1975 – A group from Saor Eire breaks away, calling itself Saoirse Eire, when the former decides to dissolve itself.

An independent republican outfit called the South Armagh Republican Action Force (SARAF) becomes active and remains so for the next three years.

Near the end of the year, secret talks take place between the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) and the Provisional Army Council through intermediaries Desmond Boal and Sean MacBride, with the top leaders on both sides fully informed; the talks eventually reach an agreement to a mutual ceasefire and joint demand for British Army withdrawal, but are scuttled by a second workers strike orchestrated by Paisley for unrelated reasons.

1976 – Under recommendation from the Gardiner Committee, British Secretary of State Merlyn Rees orders an end to Special Category Status for political prisoners in Northern Ireland beginning 1 March. Kieran Nugent, the first prisoner to arrive in the H-Blocks at Long Kesh under the new rules, refuses to wear prison clothes, beginning the blanket protest, which many loyalists join.

1977 – Official Sinn Fein becomes Sinn Fein-The Workers’ Party; the Provos issue a new Green Book which refers to members as Volunteers, revives the term Oglaigh na h’Eireann, and reorganizes the order of battle from brigades and battalions into smaller Active Service Units.

1978 – Beginning of the no wash protest and later the dirty protest in the republican wing of the H-blocks and of Armagh Women's Prison, where many of the inmates have already joined the blanket protest.

1979 – Progressive Unionist Party is organized in the Shankill as the political arm of the UVF. 

1981 – The Hunger Strike for political status takes places in the republican wing of the H-blocks at Long Kesh, with seven PIRA and three INLA prisoners dying. 

The Ulster Democratic Party is organized as the political arm of the UDA/UFF.

1982 – SF-WP becomes simply the Workers’ Party.

1983 - The Catholic Reaction Force of INLA dissidents forms in Co. Armagh.

1986 – The Gerry Adams wing of the Provisional Republican Movement launches a successful coup d’etat against the national leadership, which then forms Republican Sinn Fein and the Continuity IRA to oppose Adams’ abandonment of abstentionism. 

The DUP founds Ulster Resistance in opposition to the Anglo-Irish agreement. 

Persons expelled or forced to resign from the INLA form the Irish People’s Liberation Organization, which serves mostly as a vehicle for criminal profit.

About a hundred Provo prisoners in the H-Blocks resign in protest over the movement's abandonment of abstentionism, and later in the year many of these form the League of Communist Republicans (LCR), which last about five years.

1987 - Formation in America of the National Irish Freedom Committee by Michael Flannery, George Harrison, Joe Stynes and others, to provide American support for RSF.

Dessie O'Hare forms the Irish Revolutionary Brigade (IRB) as a splinter from INLA.

Revolutionary Struggle, a small leftist republican outfit with paramilitary capability, forms in Dublin.

1989At the end of the year, the Irish National Congress (INC) is organized to commemorate the Easter Rising, but after that continues as a non-party, non-sectarian vehicle to campaign on various left republican issues.

1992 – The UDR is amalgamated with the Royal Irish Regiment. The IPLO is wiped out by PIRA after a number of clashes.

1994 - The Irish National Republican Army organizes this year, and later dissolves to join the CIRA.

1995 – The CLMC, led by Gusty Spence, announces a cease-fire.

1996 – Billy Wright secedes from UVF and organizes the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

1997 – A group of OIRA members secede to form the Official Republican Movement over the direction the Workers’ Party is then taking. 

The CnG splits into Republican CnG and Provisional CnG factions; eventually both fade into virtual nonexistence.  A group calling itself by the old name Fenian Brotherhood organizes to replace the two dying organizations.

1998 – The PIRA and the INLA both announce cease-fires, ending The Troubles.  The Provos sign the Good Friday Agreement with the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. 

The Orange Volunteers are formed, and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and the Real IRA form, in opposition to the Good Friday Agreement. 

Formation in America of the Irish Freedom Committee, based on the former Chicago camp of NIFC, to support the 32CSM. 

A bombing carried out by RIRA in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, kills 29, including one woman pregnant with twins, and injures 220.

2001 – The UDP is succeeded by the Ulster Political Research Group.

The RUC is incorporated into the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). 

The online magazine The Blanket is founded in Belfast to provide alternative views from across the political spectrum to not only events in the Northeast and the rest of Ireland, but in the rest of the world as well.

2002 – 32CSM/RIRA dissidents, including Michael McKevitt and Bernadette Sands-McKevitt, renounce violence and along with others form the New Republican Forum.

2005 – Former members of the CIRA and the RIRA form the Oglaigh Na hEireann (ONH), with a political arm, the Saoirse na hÉireann, now the Republican Network for Unity (RNU).

The PIRA disarms.

2006 – Dissidents from PIRA, INLA, and CIRA form the Irish Republican Liberation Army and the Continuity Liberation Movement.  

Dissidents from PIRA form an Independent Republican Unit, modelled on the one from South Derry.  

Republican socialist dissidents from PSF form “eirigi”.

The Republican Defense Army (RDA) breaks away from PIRA.

2007 – A group calling itself the Real Ulster Freedom Fighters appears.

The UDA/UFF and the UVF both announce the demilitarization of their respective groups. 

The Republican Network for Unity forms to oppose the PRM’s support for the PSNI.

The Republican Defense Association forms from volunteers expelled from the 2006 RDA.

The Irish Republican Brotherhood forms in Dublin.

2008 – The Republican Defense Association and Republican Defense Army are formed in Northeast Ulster.  The Blanket ceases publication.

The Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) forms in Derry from former PIRA volunteers.

Saor Uladh forms in West Belfast and North Armagh.

2009 – The Irish National Liberation Army disarms.

The 1916 Societies begin to form around the slogan, "One Ireland, One Vote".

The Real Continuity IRA (RCIRA) breaks away from CIRA and allies with RSF.

The 1916 Societies form to push for Irish Unity as outlined in the Proclamation of 1916.

2011 – The PIRA dissolves.

The Occupy movement begins at Liberty Square in Manhattan, then spreads world-wide, including Dublin, Belfast, Galway, Cork, Letterkenney, Limerick, and Waterford.

2012 – Three Irish republican factions—RIRA, ONH, RAAD—come together in summer as the New Irish Republican Army (NIRA).

2014 – Gerry Adams, current leader of Sinn Fein, former COS of PIRA, former commander of PIRA’s Northern Command, and former leader of the Belfast Brigade’s security unit, is arrested in connection with the murder of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of ten killed in 1972, a few days after the arrest of Ivor Bell, OC of the Belfast Brigade at the time of the murder.  He is subsequently released.

2015 - The IRSP publishes a paper from an internal discussion declaring that the CIRA, RIRA, and ONH should end their armed struggle.


Action Against Drugs, made up of former Provos, announces its presence with the assassination of former Provo and ex-DAAD member Kevin McGuigan and formally in the Irish News.

A series of unfortunate events forces the PSNI to admit that not only does the PIRA still exist, but that it is still armed.

2016 - The political party Saoradh, supported by the New IRA, is established.

Taken from my “Timeline of the Pretanic Isles, in context” (http://notesfromtheninthcircle.blogspot.com/2012/02/timeline-of-pretanic-isles.html).


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