The Warband of Ireland

Fian (fe'ân), plur. Fianna (feen-a). Composed of 150 chiefs, each having under them twenty-seven men.
The requirements for joining the Fianna were vigorous. Each man had to know by heart the poet's repertoire, submit to an initiatory test of his skills and courage, including having spears thrown at him, and being able to withdrawn a thorn from his foot while stooping under a low branch and running.
Besides warriors, they had druids, physicians and musicians amongst their number.
As it was a war band which upheld the country, each man was free of tribal retribution if he killed a member of any family, nor might his own family avenge him if he was killed on active service.
The most famous leader of the Fianna was Fionn mac Cumhal - they are analogous to the Round Table Knights and King Arthur. The modern English equivalent is Fenians.

The Fianna were an order of chivalry whose qualifications were even more rigid than those of King Arthur's Round Table.
They are given in detail in GODS AND FIGHTING MEN:
And the number of the Fianna of Ireland at that time was seven score and ten chief men, every one of them having three times nine fighting men under him.
And every man of them was bound to three things, to take no cattle by oppression, not to refuse any man, as to cattle or riches; no one of them to fall back before nine fighting men.
And there was no man taken into the Fianna until his tribe and his kindred would give securities for him, that even if they themselves were all killed he would not look for satisfaction for their death.
But if he himself would harm others, that harm was not to be avenged on his people.
And there was no man taken into the Fianna till he knew the twelve books of poetry.
And before any man was taken, he would be put into a deep hole in the ground up to his middle, and he having his shield and a hazel rod in his hand.
And nine men would go the length of ten furrows from him and would cast their spears at him at the one time.
And if he got a wound from one of them, he was not thought fit to join with the Fianna.
And after that again, his hair would be fastened up, and he put to run through the woods of Ireland, and the Fianna following after him to try could they wound him, and only the length of a branch between themselves and himself when they started.
And if they came up with him and wounded him, he was not let join them; or if his spears had trembled in his hand, or if a branch of a tree had undone the plaiting of his hair, or if he had cracked a dry stick under his foot, and he running.
And they would not take him among them till he had made a leap over a stick the height of himself, and till he had stooped under one of the height of his knee, and till he had taken a thorn out from his foot with his nail, and he running his fastest. But if he had done all these things, he was of Finn's people.

It was good wages Finn and the Fianna got at that time; in every district a townland, in every house the fostering of a pup or a whelp from Samhain (sov'an) to Beltaine (baalt'an), and a great many things along with that. But good as they pay was, the hardships and the dangers they went through for it were greater.
For they had to hinder the strangers and robbers from beyond the seas, and every bad thing, from coming into Ireland. And they had hard work enough in doing that.
This royal band were served by a great retinue of Druids, physicians, minstrels and musicians, messengers, door-keepers, cup-bearers and huntsmen, besides fifty of the best serving-women in Ireland, who worked all the year round making clothes for the Fianna in a rath on Magh Femen.
It was an active life, full of delights and dangers, and it went on until old age overtook Finn, and his Fianna went down under dissensions, jealousies and deaths.

PreHistoric Times

c 10,000 BC
Earliest settlers arrived in Ireland, in the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age period. They crossed by land bridge from Scotland. These people were mainly hunters. See what archeology is finding out about them and the Ceide Fields of Co Mayo!

c 3000 BC The Neolithic
Colonists of the neolithic, or new stone-age period , reached Ireland. These people were farmers. Remnants of their civilization have been excavated at Lough Gur in Co. Limerick. They traded in a limited form in products, such as axe-heads. One of their monuments, a megalithic tomb at Newgrange in Co. Meath, has survived. Visit the ancient tombs in Knowth, Boyne Valley. (Six pages, one photo per page)

cc 2000 BC
Prospectors and metalworkers arrived. Metal deposits were discovered, and soon bronze and gold objects were made. Items (such as axe-heads, pottery and jewelery) made by these bronze-age people, have been found.

1699 BC
early ages The time of legends. Who were the Fianna?

c 1200 BC More people reached Ireland, producing a greater variety of weapons and artifacts. A common dwelling of this period was the "crannog", an artificial island, constructed in the middle of a lake. The Bronze Age

c 600 BC Celts started arriving in Ireland, from central Europe. They continued to arrive, up to the time of Christianity. They soon began to dominate Ireland, and the earliet settlers. The Celts belonged linguistically to the Indo-European culture. The Iron age


c 200 BC The Celtic culture of the La Tene civilization, named after a Celtic site in Switzerland, reached Ireland. Celtic Ireland was not politically unified, only by culture and language. The country was divided into about 150 minitature kingdoms, each called a 'tuath'. A minor king ruled a 'tuath', subject to a more powerful king who ruled a group of 'tuath', who was in turn subject to one of the five provincial kings. (Early on there were five provinces, with Meath as a separate province.) This caused constant shifting in power, among the most important contenders. Celtic Ireland had a simple agrarian economy. No coins were used, and the cow was the unit of exchange. There were no towns. Society was stratified into classes, and was regulated by the Brehon Laws, based largely on the concepts of the 'tuath' as the political body, and the 'fine', or extended family as the social unit.

c100 BC Arrival of the Gaels

200 AD Beginnings of High Kingship at Tara, Co Meath

c 300 AD Ireland inhabited by tribes known as Scoti

377-405 Naill of the Nine Hostages, High King

428-463 AD King McNeill reigned

431 AD Pope Celestine 1 sent Palladius to the Irish, as their first Bishop. Palladius died soon after.

432 AD Arrival of St. Patrick to help convert pagan Gaelic Kings to Christianity.



461 AD St. Patrick dies, after having achieved his dream of introducing both Roman Civilisation, and the Christian Church to Ireland.
521AD Columba or Colum Cille born at Gartan in Tyreconnell.He became a priest and became first Abbot of a church at Derry.
550 AD onwards Irish monks re-Christianize Europe
561AD Battle of Culdremna.
563AD Columcille sails to Iona, where he Christianised Scotland and much of England.
597AD Columcille dies. his name and reputation was the greatest in the Irish Church. He had a great reputation as a missionary.
600AD Ireland's 'golden age' began in the sixth century and lasted well into the ninth centur

700AD The Northern Ui Neill were divided into two main branches, Cenel Conaill and Cenel nEoghain.
The Southern Ui Neill were divided into two major rival branches, the Sil nAeda Slaine and Clann Cholmain,

800AD The Viking era in Ireland is commonly divided into two periods: an early era beginning in 795 AD and ending by the mid 9th century, and a second period beginning around 914 AD and ending around the middle of the 10th century.


Some of the more prominent Viking activity recorded in the annals included:
795 - Raids on the monasteries of Rathlin, Inishmurray and Inishbofin.
797 - Viking attack on Lambay Island, northeast of Dublin City.
798 - Burning of the monastery of St. Patrick's Island.
807 - Burning of Inishmurray. Attack on Roscam in Co. Galway.
908 - The Eoganachta were defeated, when they tried to subject Leinster to Cashel's rule.Their king, Cormac MacCullenan, was killed.
811 - Viking defeat by the Ulaid of northeastern Ireland.
812 - Viking defeat by the Umall of Co. Mayo.
812 - The Eoghanacht Locha Lein defeat a band of Vikings in Kerry.
819 - Vikings raid the Wexford area and later set up a trading post.
820 - The Vikings raid the Abbey of St. Finbarr's at Cork and set up a base camp.
824 - Attack on the monastery of Sceilg, 8 miles off the coast of Kerry.
825 - Monastery at St. Mullins is plundered.

831 - Vikings attack the area around Annagassan in Co. Louth.
832 - Vikings raid the monastery of Clonmore.
836 - First recorded inland attacks against the Southern Ui Neill in Meath.
837 - More raids, 60 ships appear both on the rivers Liffey and the Boyne.
839 - More raids - Viking fleet at Lough Neagh and over-winter in 840/41.
839 - Attacks are reported at Ferns, Co. Wexford and at Cork.
841 - Turgeis and a big Viking fleet take Dublin and begin their first settlement in Ireland.
841 - Vikings erect a longfort at Linn Duachaill near Annagassan.
842 - The Vikings complete there first "over-winter" at Dublin.
842 - The first recorded Irish-Viking alliance.
844 - Turgeis is killed by the Irish, drowned in Loch Nair.
845 - Forannan, abbot of Armagh, is captured in Munster.
845 - Viking victory at Dunamase.
846 - The Vikings make a settlement on islands at Cork.
848 - Maelseachlann I defeates the Vikings of Dublin at Skryne
848 - Olchobar, the king of Cashel, attacks the Viking base at Cork.
850 - Waterford is settled by the Vikings around this time.
851 - Battle at Dundalk bay between the "Fingall" (Norwegian) and "Dubhgall" (Danish) Vikings.
852 - Vikings devastate Armagh from their base at Annagassan.
853 - Olaf the White of Norway defeat the Danes in a great sea battle.
860 - Ossory is attacked from the Viking base at Vedrafjord (Waterford).
864 - The Deise destroy the Norse fort in Waterford.
866 - Aed Finnliath (Northern Ui Neill) clears the North coast of Viking bases.
869 - Norwegian Vikings suffer a defeat by Conor, king of Connaught, near Drogheda.
879 - Vikings attack Armagh from a base at Carlingford.
898 - Vikings attack Armagh from a base at Lough Foyle.
900 - Viking fleet moor at Lough Neagh.

902 - The Irish drive the Vikings from Dublin into North Wales.
908 - Eirík Bloodaxe, son of King Haraldr Harfagra of Norway, is a noted Viking raider.
914 - A second round of intensified Viking raids begin.
914 - Vikings established settlements at Waterford.
916 - Vikings established settlements at Dublin.
917 - Vikings defeat the Irish at Dublin and regain control.
917 - The Leinstermen suffer defeat at the hands of the Vikings.
919 - Niall Glundub and the cream of the Ui Neill fall at the Battle of Dublin.
920 - Vikings established settlements at Limerick.
922 - Vikings establish a colony on an island at what is now Limerick.
926 - Muirchertach MacNeill defeats Alptham's Viking forces near Annagassan.
940 - Brian Boru was born. Son of a leader of one of the royal free tribes of Munster.
952 - St. Mullins monastery is plundered by a fleet under Lairic.
955 - The second and final period of Viking raids ends. An estimated total of about 43 raids are recorded during the entire Viking period in Ireland.
968 - Ívarr of Limerick is driven out of Ireland by King Mathgamhain of Munster.
969 - Ívarr returns to Limerick and re-establishes his rule on the larger islands of the Shannon.
976 - Brian succeeded his brother Mahon, as King of Munster until 1014.
999 - Brian Boru defeated Vikings.

1002 - Brian Boru wins recognition as king of all Ireland
1014 High King Brian Boru, killed at Battle of Clontarf.
1066 Normans defeat Saxons in England

1100 From 1086 to 1114 the most powerful king in Ireland was Muirchertach O'Brien. He had dealings with the Anglo-Normans and the Norwegian king, and dominated most of the country
1156 Turloch More O'Connor, a king of Connacht, who had become High King in 1119, and who was the greatest of Brian Boru's successors - died.
1167-69 Arrival of Normans at Baginbun, Co. Wexford, thus started 800 year struggle between English and Irish.
1170 Arrival of Richard de Clare, known as Strongbow.
1171 Strongbow becomes king of Leinster. Arrival of Henry II, end of the Milesian kings; thus began the political involvement of England in Ireland's affairs.
1166-1175 Reign of Rory O'Connor, Last native High King of Ireland

1200 AD After being ousted from his kingship in Leinster, and seeking help from King Henry II of England, Dermot MacMurrough enlisted the assistance of Richard fitz Gilbert de Clare, would-be earl of Pembroke (Wales)
1235 Richard de Burgo conquered Connacht.
1258 Gallowglasses (mercenary soldiers) come to Ulster from Scotland
1264 Walter de Burgo was made Earl of Ulster.
1272 The English had now conquered Ulster, east of Lough Neagh, in Meath, as well as most of Connacht and of Munster.

1300AD Following the initial invasion of the Cambro-Normans in the late twelfth century the installation of foreign-born lords and earls in Ireland, by King Henry II and his son John,
1315 After Battle of Bannockburn, Edward Bruce of Scotland invaded Ireland but failed in his attempt to overthrow Norman Rule.
1318 Edward Bruce killed by the English, near Dundalk, after having failed to become the Ard Ri, so long sought after by the Irish.
1361 An edict bans pure-blooded from becoming mayors, baillifs, officers of the king or clerygmen, serving the English.
1366 Statutes of Kilkenny forbade Irish/English marriages and preventing English to use Irish language, custom or laws.
1394 October. King Richard II, landed at Waterford, and marched up to Dublin.

1400AD Following a forty year period of time and money spent by the English crown to assist the position of the colonists in Ireland, King Richard the II, was deposed in 1399. It was during this time, in 1366, that the Statutes of Kilkenny were passed in a futile attempt to reverse the trend of English colonists from speaking Irish and marrying Irish partners.
1496 Line of "the Pale" at Clongowes. This was a small enclave around Dublin, which became the area of English rule.

1500AD The independent nature of the Anglo-Irish lords and parliament, as well as the Gaelic chieftains, were a problem for late 15th century England.
1507 Accession of Henry VIII.
1515 Anarchy in Ireland.
1529-36 Henry VIII made his great breach with Rome, and set himself up as head of the Church in England.
1534 Kildare rebellion.
1541 Henry VIII declares himself king of Ireland.
1545-63 The Council of Trent gives Catholics a greater sense of purpose.
1547 Henry VIII dies, succeeded by the boy king Edward VI. England and Ireland were ruled by the senior nobility of England.
1553 Mary ascends the Throne.
1558 Accession of Elizabeth I.
1562 Elizabethan Wars in Ireland.
1588 Spanish Armada sent by Philip of Spain, to conquer England.
1594 August. Hugh O'Neill defeated a small English force at the Ford of Biscuits near Enniskillen.
1595 Rebellion of Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone.
1598 O'Neill's great victory at Yellow Ford in Ulster

1601 Defeat of O'Neill, O'Donnell and Spaniards by Mountjoy at Battle of Kinsale.
1603 Accession of James 1. Surrender of Hugh O'Neill. Enforecement of English Law in Ireland.
1606 Settlement of Scots in Ards Peninsula. Land in six counties of Ulster consficated by English.
1607 Flight of O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone,and O'Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell. "The flight of the Earls" to Spain.
1608 Plantation of Derry and others confiscated counties planned.
1632-38 Compilation of the Annals of the Four Masters
1641 Great Catholic-Gaelic rebellion for return of lands, later joined by Old English Catholics in Ireland. Under leadership of Irish chieftain, Rory O'More, conspiracy was formed to seize Dublin and expel the English. English settlers were driven out of Ulster. Catholics hold 59% of land in Ireland.
1642 Confederation of Kilkenny met.
1647 Alliance between lords of Pale and native Irishmen came to an end
1649 English soldier & statesman, Oliver Cromwell, landed at Dublin. His troops killed 2,000 men. A great part of lands in Munster, Leinster and Ulster
(Drogheda and Wexford) was confiscated and divided among the English soldiers
1650 Catholic landowners exiled to Connaught.
1656 Over 60,000 Irish Catholics had been sent slaves to Barbados, and other islands in the Caribbean.
1658 The population of Ireland,estimated at 1,500,000, before Cromwell, was reduced by two-thirds, to 500,000, at Cromwell's death in 1658.
1660 Accession of Charles II.
1661-68 The Duke of Ormond ruled Ireland as Viceroy.
1672 Over 6,000 Irish boys and women sold as slaves since England gained control of Jamaica.
1685 Accession of James II.
1688 English Revolution James II deposed in England. Gates of Derry shut in face of James' troops. Catholics now hold 22% of land in Ireland.
1689 Siege and relief of Derry. James II's Parliment restored all lands confiscated since 1641
1690 William of Orange (William III) lands at Carrickfergus and defeats James II at Battle of the Boyne. 11,000 "WILD GEESE soldiers sail for France.
1691 Catholic defeat at Aughrim and surrender at Limerick.
1829 Exclusion of Catholics from Parliament and all professions.
1695 Anti-Catholic Penal Laws Introduced Catholics hold 14% of land in Ireland.
1698 William Molyneaux pamphlet against England making laws for Ireland.

1700AD Following the massacres and confiscations of property by Cromwell in 1653, the landed gentry of Ireland had rapidly converted from that of the Irish and Old English (Anglo-Irish) to that of the Protestant New English.
1714 Catholics hold 7% of land in Ireland.
1740 The Forgotten Famine
1775 Henry Gratten, becomes leader of "Patriot Party".
1775 Daniel O'Connell born at Derrynane,Co.Kerry.Received early schooling from Parish Priest, then sent to France to receive further instruction at St. Omer and Douai.
1782 Legislative Independence won from Britain by Irish Parliament.
1791 Events leading up to the Revolution of 1798
1798 March: arrest of Leinster Directory of United Irishmen. May: arrest and death of Lord Edward Fitzgerald. Battle of Vinegar Hill. Battle of Antrim
November: death of Wolfe Tone. More about 1798 Rebellion
1798 Daniel O'Connell takes law degree at Trinity College, and is admitted to the Bar.

1800AD Act of Union passed (effective 1 January 1801)
1803 Robert Emmett's rising, trial and execution.
1823 Daniel O'Connell's Catholic Association founded.
1828 O'Connell elected for Clare.
1829 Catholic emancipation passed. Tithe War began.
1837 Accession of Queen Victoria.
1839 January 6.. the Night of the BIG WIND
1840 O'Connell's Repeal Association founded.
1842 "The Nation" newspaper founded by Thomas Davis.
1843 O'Connell's "Monster Meetings" for Repeal of the Union.
1845 Blight in the Potato Harvest.
1845-49 Beginning of Famine. Charles Tteveleyan, permanent Head of Treasury.
Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister, imports Indian Corn.
1846 April. Treveylan opens depots for sale of Indian corn, but closes them later in summer. Repeal of Corn Laws.
1846 July. Lord John Russell replaces Peel as Prime Minister. August: Total failure of potato harvest. October: First deaths from starvation.
1847 Fever spreading. Treveleyan winds up Soup Kitchen Act, and retires to write history of famine.
1848-49 Worst years of famine. By 1848 through emigration and deaths by famine, Ireland's population decreased by more than 2 million people (8.5 to 6.5).
1848 Smith O'Brien (Young Ireland Leader) arrested. James Stephens flees to France.
1856 Stephens returns from France.
1858 Stephens founds Irish Republican Brotherhood. Fenian Brotherhood founded in America.
1861 Beginning of American Civil War.
1863 "Irish People" newspaper founded.
1865 End of American Civil War. Arrest of editorial board of "Irish People". James Stephens arrested, and escapes from Richmond Jail.
1867 February: Abortive raid on Chester Castle. March: Fenian rising in Ireland. December: Clerkenwell explosion. 1869 Gladstone, Prime Minister, dis-establishes Protestant Church in Ireland.
1870 Gladstone's first Land Act.
1875 Charles Stewart Parnell elected MP for Co Meath.
1879 Threat of famine. Evictions.Irish National League founded.
1879-82 Land War
1881 Gladstone's 2nd Land Act. Parnell imprisoned.
1882 Kilmainham "Treaty". Parnell's release. Phoenix Park murder.
1886 First home Rule Bill.
1891 Parnell loses three by-elections in Ireland. Parnell dies in October.
1893 Second Home Rule Bill. Gaelic League founded.

1900AD The map above represents pre-famine percentages of literacy and poor (4th class) housing in Ireland circa 1841. This helps set the stage for a short description of 'The Great Hunger' which began in Ireland around the Fall of 1845, continued up to 1851, and ended in the deaths of an estimated one million Irish (or one out of every nine inhabitants).
1903 Land Purchase Act (Wyndham Act).
1906 Liberals win General Election.
1909 Land Purchase Act.
1912 Third Home Rule Bill.
1914 Outbreak of First World War. IRB decides on Rising.
1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. May 3-12 executions.
1917 De Valera wins East Clare.
1918 November: end of First World War.
1919-21 Irish War of Independence against Britain.
1920 Burning of Cork by Auxiliaries.
1921 December. Anglo Irish Treaty.
1922 Civil War starts between Free State army and IRA.
1923 End of Civil war.
1926 De Valera founds Fianna Fail.
1927 General Elections in Ireland. De Valera and Fianna Fail enter Dail.
1932 General Election. Fianna Fail victory.
1937 Constitution of "Eire", claims 32 counties.
1939 Second World War.
1945 End of Second World War.
1948 General Election. Fianna Fail defeated.
1949 Repeal of External Relations Act. Ireland leaves Commonwealth. Republic of Ireland declared (26 counties)
1951-62 IRA campaign in North.
1955 Ireland joins the United Nations.
1965 O'Neill-Lemass Talks.
1967 Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association founded.
1968 August: First Civil Rights March. October: Derry Civil Rights March, banned by William Craig, Minister of home Affairs, held but broken up by brutality by police.
1969 January: People's Democracy Belfast to Derry Civil Rights March. January 4: Marchers attaacked at Burntollet Bridge.
April: O'Neill resigns. Chichester Clark Prime Minister. August 14: British troops sent to Derry. October: Protestant riot in Belfast.
1970 Dublin Arms Trial.
1971 First British soldier killed by IRA in Belfast. Chichester Clark resigns, Faulkner Prime Minister.
Unionist government of NI introduces internment without trial for suspected Republicans. 1972 Irelalnd joins the European Economic Community
1972 January 30: Bloody Sunday in Derry. British paratroopers shoot 13 civilians during civil-rights march. March: Stormont suspended.
1973 Sunningdale Agreement.
1974 Ulster Workers Strike brings down Faulkner and Assembly. Direct Rule re-imposed. Loyalits bomb Dublin and Monaghan, killing 30
1981-82 Ten Republicans die on hunger strike in Maze Prison, NI Dying hunger-striker Bobby Sands elected to British Parliament
1993 Downing Street Declaration; British Government accepts the right of the people of Irelalnd to self-determinination.
1994 IRA declares cease-fire
1996 Cease-fire breaks down after Britain's Conservative government refuses to allow Sinn Fein to join all-party talks on NI.
1997 IRA cease-fire resumes; talks begin in Belfast between government of Irish Republic, Britain's ne Labor government, and representatives
of all NI's political parties.
1998 Initial peace-plan accepted by all parties.
Prepared by PBN and sitka, © 1998

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