Page last updated at 16:49 GMT, Thursday, 22 March 2012

Ireland timeline

A chronology of key events:

1914 - Outbreak of World War I delays implementation of new home rule legislation which would have restored the Dublin parliament following centuries of unrest over British dominion in Ireland.

Mural in New York depicting scenes of Irish life
Many emigrants returned during the "Celtic Tiger" years
Millions left Irish shores in the wake of the 1840s famine
Population of Ireland bottomed out at 2.6m in 1961
Population reached 4m in 2003

1916 - Nationalists stage Easter Rising, seizing the General Post Office in Dublin and proclaiming an independent Irish republic. The rising is crushed by the British who execute its leaders, including all seven signatories of the declaration of the republic. Irish public opinion is outraged.

1919 - Led by Eamonn De Valera, the nationalist movement Sinn Fein ('We Ourselves') sets up a Dublin assembly, the Dail Eireann, which again proclaims Irish independence. A guerrilla campaign by the Irish Republican Army, or IRA, against British forces begins with heavy casualties on both sides.

1920 - The British parliament passes the Government of Ireland Act establishing one parliament for the six counties of Northern Ireland, and another for the rest of Ireland.

The Irish Free State

1921 - Anglo-Irish Treaty establishes the Free State, an independent dominion of the British crown with full internal self-government rights, partitioned from Northern Ireland which remains part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Eamon de Valera
'Long fellow' Eamon de Valera pressed for a republic

1922 - The Dublin parliament ratifies the treaty despite the opposition of De Valera and others. Civil war breaks out and hundreds are killed.

1923 - Irish Free State joins the League of Nations.

1927 - De Valera enters parliament at the head of the new Fianna Fail party.

1932 - De Valera becomes head of government after previous administration fails to deal with economic difficulties. De Valera introduces various measures to eliminate British influence in the Irish Free State.

From Eire to Republic of Ireland

1937 - New elections. The voters return de Valera and also approve a new constitution which abolishes the Irish Free State and proclaims Eire (Gaelic for Ireland) as a sovereign, independent, democratic state.

1938 - Douglas Hyde becomes first president of Eire. De Valera is prime minister.

1939 - Outbreak of World War II. Eire remains neutral, but many Irish citizens join the Allied forces.

Statue of Irish writer James Joyce
Literary pioneer James Joyce's works are seen as revolutionary

1948 - De Valera loses the election. Eire is suffering economic difficulties. John Costello becomes prime minister. Dublin parliament passes the Republic of Ireland bill.

1949 - On Easter Monday, the anniversary of the 1916 uprising, Eire becomes the Republic of Ireland. Ireland leaves the British Commonwealth.

1955 - Ireland joins the United Nations. It declines to join NATO because Northern Ireland is part of United Kingdom.

1957 - De Valera becomes prime minister again. He states in public that the unity of Ireland cannot be achieved by force.

1959 - De Valera becomes president of the Republic of Ireland.

1969 to 1998 - Conflict in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles, which occasionally spilled over into Ireland.

Becoming a modern society

1973 - Ireland joins the European Economic Community. Violence in Northern Ireland intensifies. The IRA is active again, as are unionist paramilitary groups. Relations between Ireland and Britain are strained.

Kilkenny hurling star DJ Carey
Hurling, the national sport

Early 1980s - Ireland faces severe economic problems, with rising debt and unemployment. Three elections are held in the space of less than two years as politicians grapple with the difficulties.

1985 - The Anglo-Irish Agreement is signed. It gives the Republic of Ireland a consultative role in the government of Northern Ireland.

1990 - Mary Robinson becomes first woman president of Ireland.

1991 - Ireland signs the Treaty on European Union at Maastricht. Ireland receives a guarantee that its strict abortion law will not be affected.

1992 - Irish voters approve a loosening of the abortion law. Access to information is guaranteed, and travel abroad to have an abortion is permitted.

Peace process

1993 - The Downing Street Declaration by the Irish and British prime ministers offers talks on future peace in Northern Ireland to all parties if violence is renounced.

1997 - Divorce becomes legal in Ireland under certain circumstances. The law is opposed by the Roman Catholic church.

Irish rock group U2
U2: From pub to stadium, music permeates Irish life

1998 - The Good Friday Agreement on a political settlement for Northern Ireland is approved by voters in referendums in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland.

2001 June - Irish voters reject the Nice Treaty in a referendum. The treaty must be approved by all 15 EU member-states before the EU can expand to include a dozen applicant countries from eastern Europe.

2002 January - Euro replaces the punt.

2002 March - Small majority of voters rejects government attempt to tighten already strict anti-abortion laws in constitutional referendum.

Ahern re-elected

2002 May - Voters re-elect Fianna Fail's Bertie Ahern as prime minister (taoiseach) in a continuing coalition with the Progressive Democrats. Fine Gael, the main opposition party, loses over a third of its seats in parliament.

2002 October - Irish voters endorse Nice Treaty by comfortable margin in second referendum.

Brazilian immigrant Lidiane Castor
The "Celtic Tiger" years saw an unprecedented surge in immigration

2004 1 May - Ireland, as holder of the EU presidency, hosts ceremonies to welcome 10 new member states.

2005 June - Irish is officially recognised as a working language by the European Union.

2006 November - Parliamentary report says British security services colluded in attacks and killings in Ireland in the 1970s.

2006 December - Government launches a 20-year strategy to create a bilingual, Irish and English-speaking society.

2007 May - Fianna Fail emerges as the largest party in parliamentary elections, but fails to win an overall majority.

2007 June - Bertie Ahern forms a coalition with the Progressive Democrats, several independents and the Greens, who enter government for the first time. Mr Ahern becomes the first taoiseach to win a third term in office since Eamon De Valera.

Ireland gets its first black mayor when Nigerian-born Rotimi Adebari is elected the mayor of Portlaoise.

Cowen becomes taoiseach

2008 May - Bertie Ahern steps down as taoiseach following a controversy over his financial affairs. He is succeeded by his deputy, Brian Cowen.

2008 June - Irish voters reject the EU's Lisbon Treaty in a referendum.

2008 October - Ireland becomes first country in western Europe to officially fall into recession in wake of global financial crisis.

2009 February - Unemployment rate reaches 11% - the highest since 1996. Some 100,000 people take part in Dublin protest rally against government's handling of economic crisis.

Financial crisis hits

2009 March - Ireland loses its AAA debt rating as public finances deteriorate amid a deep recession.

2009 April - The government unveils its second budget in six months to deal with a rapidly contracting economy.

2009 October - Ireland votes in favour of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty in a new referendum, having rejected it in a vote a year earlier.

2009 November - A damning report criticises the Irish Catholic Church hierarchy for its handling of allegations of child abuse against 46 priests.

2010 September - The cost of bailing out Ireland's stricken banking system rises to 45bn euro (£39bn), pushing the country's budget deficit up to around a third of GDP.

EU bailout

2010 November - The government agrees an 85bn euro rescue package with the EU and the IMF, in a bid to tackle a huge hole in Ireland's public finance. As part of the package, the government drafts an austerity programme entailing four years of tax rises and spending cuts.

2011 January - Parliament approves finance bill required as condition of EU/IMF bailout.

2011 February - Taoiseach Brian Cowen dissolves parliament and calls early election. Opposition Fine Gael wins most seats but falls short of an overall majority and begins coalition talks.

2011 March - New government, headed by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, takes office. Mr Kenny pledges to renegotiate terms of EU/IMF bailout.

2011 July - Ratings agency Moody's downgrades Ireland's debt rating to junk status.

Vatican recalls its ambassador to Ireland amid tension over the issue of child abuse by priests.

2011 October - Michael D Higgins is elected president.

Voters in referendum reject proposed constitutional changes relating to parliamentary inquiries and pay for judges.

2012 March - Official figures show that Ireland fell back into recession in last three months of 2011, following return to growth for first time since 2007.

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Compiled by BBC Monitoring

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