It has been said that people mould the world and the world moulds people. There is undoubtedly a crucial link between the progress of a family and their contemporary environment. The following chronology is a brief list of key dates and events in Ireland which provide an informative backdrop to the general history and individual biographies. A handful of notable events outside Ireland are included to provide a glimpse of the bigger picture and significant external influences.
- Pre-Christian history (all dates are BC)
13,000 . . . End of the last Ice Age (100,000 - 13,000). The possibility of a human presence in Ireland during the latter stages of the Pleistocene and in the Late Glacial cannot be dismissed as there would have been ice-free areas in the south of the country potentially suitable for settlement. These initial settlements would have been concentrated around the southern coastal fringes of the day. The lack of hard evidence today may be attributed to the rising sea level from glacial melt-waters, which subsequently flooded these areas to produce the modern coastline.
10,000 . . . Giant deer became common in Ireland.
6,000 . . . Ireland was cut off from Britain by the rising sea level (Britain was later cut off from mainland Europe). The earliest known Mesolithic inhabitants (Middle Stone Age hunters and fishermen) arrived in Ireland. These flint-using tribes are known in legend as the Fomorians, the Nemedians, and the Dé Dánann.
It would, of course, be unrealistic to expect the ancient annals, based on centuries of oral history, to be perfectly accurate in their chronology. However, there are two interesting points to note. Firstly, the annals frequently date the start of the world around 5,200 BC, the Flood around 3,000 BC, the arrival of the first settlers around 2,950 BC, and record the formation of various lakes around 2,700 BC. Whilst modern scientists would point out that these dates are all too recent, it is interesting to remember that the majority of the lakes would have been formed in the post-glacial period following the retreat of the ice and the arrival of the settlers. Secondly, the annals are studded with records of Halley's Comet, solar and lunar eclipses. The pioneering topographer Dr. John O'Donovan reported that many of the post-Christian astronomical records were validated by modern astronomers to a surprising accuracy of one year. Thus whilst details may have blurred somewhat by centuries of oral history, the salient facts are quite probably reliable.
3,000 . . . Neolithic people (New Stone Age farmers) arrived in Ireland via two routes; the short sail from neighbouring Britain and the long voyage directly from continental Europe. The continental tribes are known in legend as the Milesians. Ireland exported stone axes to Britain. The early megalithic tomb and cairns were constructed; also the Ceide Fields in County Mayo.
2,000 . . . Early Bronze Age metal workers, known in legend as the Firbolgs, arrived in Ireland. Ireland exported bronze weapons and tools, and distinctive gold ornaments.
1,200 . . . Successive late Bronze Age tribes of Picts arrived in Ireland. Ireland exported new and improved varieties of tools and weapons, including the short heavy sword.
450 . . . Iron Age tribes of Celts arrived in Ireland with a new Gaelic tongue. Their superior weapons and technology allowed them to dominate the existing inhabitants.
- Early history (say, 1 - 1155 AD)
122 . . . Conn Cetcathach (Conn of the hundred battles) was elected king of Connaught, and died in 157. The province of Connaught was named after him.
122 . . . Eoghan Mór (Eoghan the great) was elected king of Munster, and died in 166. The chief ruling tribes in Munster were named the Eoghanacht tribes after him.
166 . . . The country was effectively split into a northern portion called Conn's Half, ruled by Conn Cetcathach, and a southern portion called Mogh's Half, ruled by Mogh Nuachta (otherwise known as Eoghan Mór). There was a brief peace between these rulers when Mogh's son Oilioll Olum wed Conn's daughter Sadhbh, but hostilities soon resumed with numerous cattle raids and pitched battles.
226 . . . Cormac Mac Art was elected king of Connaught and died in 266.
358 . . . Eochaidh Muighmheadhoin was elected King of Connaught and died in 366. Eochaidh had four sons who founded the leading families in Connaught
and Ulster, namely: Niall Noigiallach (a quo Uí Neill), Brian Orbsen (a quo Uí Briuin), Fiachra Foltsnathach
(a quo Uí Fiachrach) and Ailill (a quo Uí Ailello). When Eochaidh died, he was succeeded by Niall, while Brian was general of Niall's
army. When Brian was killed, he was succeeded by Fiachra. Fiachra had a son Daithi, who succeeded Niall as the last Pagan King of Connaught. Daithi
had twenty-four sons, one of whom was Fiachra Ealgach (a quo Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe).
The tribes of Uí Fiachrach were at the height of their power providing kings of Connaught between the fourth and seventh centuries, then lost power
as they spread geographically.
432 . . . Saint Patrick arrived in Ireland and the conversion of the country to Christianity began.
540 . . . Saint Finnian (512 - 589) founded the monastery at Moville (Magh bhile) in County Down.
563 . . . Saint Columcille (521 - 597) founded the monastery at Iona (Hi Cholaim Chille). He had earlier founded the monastic settlements at Derry (545) and Durrow (553).
The abbots of the early monasteries were frequently styled as the heirs or successors (comharba) to the founding saints. The position of abbot was relatively powerful since the abbeys often owned extensive lands under the patronage of the local dominant chief. Consequently, the senior clerical offices were frequently filled by members of the dominant family. In the early and middle ages, it was not uncommon for members of the clergy to raise families (the Scottish surname McNab means son of the abbot) since celibacy was not strictly decreed until the Synod of Armagh in 1383.
650 . . . The Book of Durrow, earliest of the great Irish illuminated manuscripts, was produced.
697 . . . Saint Adamnan (624 - 704) held a great conference on Iona of bishops and fellow abbots which evolved the Law of Innocents. This decreed that women and children were not to take part in battles, and that the former were to be protected from violence. It is notable that Saint Adamnan (the earliest biographer of Saint Columcille) held this conference on the centenary of Saint Columcille's death.
769 . . . Foundation of the Céili Dé movement by Saint Maelruain in Tallaght, County Dublin. This reform movement advocated an ascetic (sometimes hermitic) lifestyle with strict monastic rules, and inspired many of the schools which bonded the scholasticism of classical Latin and traditional Gaelic.
778 . . . Flannabhra, chief of the Umhalls in County Mayo, died.
795 . . . Vikings from Norway and Denmark began to raid Ireland.
800 . . . The Book of Kells was illuminated.
823 . . . Flannabhra, abbot of the monastery at Moville in County Down, died.
859 . . . Maelsechlainn was acknowledged as effective high-king of Ireland (sometimes termed high-king with opposition).
876 . . . Flannabhra, chief of Gabhra in County Limerick, was slain.
983 . . . Aodh O'Dubhda died. He was one of the earliest recorded bearers of a surname.
988 . . . The Vikings established the first permanent settlement at Dublin.
1002 . . . Brian Boroimhe became undisputed high-king of Ireland.
1014 . . . Brian Boroimhe was slain after defeating a combined army of Irish and Norse at the battle of Clontarf.
1025 . . . Flannabhra, abbot of the monastery on the island of Iona, died.
1111 . . . The Synod of Rathbreasail - the territorial dioceses were constituted.
- Middle Ages (say, 1155 - 1500)
1155 . . . King Henry II of England obtained a Papal Bull (official decree) entitled Laudabiliter from Pope Adrian IV - the first English pope (Nicholas Breakspeare, d. 1159) - authorising him to take possession of Ireland, on condition of paying to the papal treasury a stipulated annual revenue. The authority of the Pope to award Ireland to Henry was based on an earlier document from Emperor Constantine the Great granting western Europe to Pope Sylvester (d. 335). In the fifteenth century, the Donation of Constantine was found to be an eighth century forgery.
1169 . . . The Normans invaded Ireland, primarily in Leinster. The initial force of 30 heavily armoured knights, 60 chain-mailed men-at-arms in half-armour, and 300 Welsh archers with longbows was led by Robert FitzStephen and established a foothold. They were soon joined by a force of 10 knights and 200 archers led by Maurice de Prendergast. This was followed by a third force of 10 knights, 30 mounted archers and 100 foot archers, led by Maurice FitzGerald.
1170 . . . Fresh Norman troops landed. Raymond FitzWilliam de Carew (nicknamed le Gros) led 10 knights and 70 archers. They were later joined by the main force of 200 knights and 1000 archers led by the campaign leader Richard FitzGilbert de Clare (nicknamed Strongbow) 2nd Earl of Pembroke.
1172 . . . King Henry II of England landed with a much larger army (almost 5,000 men including 400 knights), received homage from several minor Irish chieftains and from the principal Norman leaders, and granted to the latter charters authorising them, as his subjects, to take possession of portions of the island.
1175 . . . A confirmatory grant of Ireland by a Papal Bull entitled Quoniam Ea from Pope Alexander III to Henry II was announced at the Synod of Waterford.
1185 . . . The youthful Prince John, later John, king of England, was sent by Henry II into Ireland, but the injudicious conduct of his council excited disturbances, and he was soon recalled to England.
1210 . . . King John of England made a second expedition to Ireland to curb the refractory spirit of his Norman barons, who had become formidable through alliances with the Irish chieftains.
1213 . . . Donnchadh O'Dubhda (the O'Dowds were the senior sept of Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe) sailed a fleet of fifty-six ships from the western islands
of Scotland to Inishraher in Clew Bay, and compelled Cathal Croibhdherg O'Conor (Charles the Red-fisted), King of Connaught, to give up every claim to the tributes which the latter demanded out of the principality of Uí Fiachrach.
1235 . . . The Normans invaded Connaught. The supremacy of the O'Dowd family was gradually eroded by the Norman family of Burke.
1316 . . . Edward Bruce was crowned king of Ireland, but never effectively reigned. He was the younger brother of Robert Bruce (King of Scotland) and fought the Irish provincial chieftains for three years in an attempt to gain recognition. He was killed in the battle of Fachairt in 1318.
1348 . . . The Black Death in Ireland (1348 - 1350).
1366 . . . The Anglo-Irish Parliament passed the Statutes of Kilkenny, decreeing excommunication and heavy penalties against all those who followed the custom of, or allied themselves with, the native Irish.
1395 . . . Thady O'Flannelly, Vicar of Skreen-Adamnan in County Sligo, died.
1401 . . . John O'Flannery was Bishop of Derry until his death in 1415.
1418 . . . Leabhar na Leacain or The Yellow Book of Lecan was compiled from various MSS. by Giolla Iosa Mór Mac Firbis, hereditary historian of the O'Dowds of Tireragh in County Sligo. This is an extensive genealogical compilation of Uí Fiachrach detailing the origin and deeds of the majority of the families in this area. It includes a genealogical poem of 231 quatrains, subsequently translated by Dr. John O'Donovan in 1844.
1432 . . . Tadgh Riabhach O'Dubhda died. He was the last effective chieftain of Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe and lord of Tireragh.
1477 . . . Christopher Columbus visited Galway while on a trading voyage from Lisbon.
- Early English Colonisation (say, 1500 - 1700)
1549 . . . Tudor plantation of King's County and Queen's County (1549 - 1557), renamed Offaly and Leix respectively in 1922.
1562 . . . Shane O'Neill (The O'Neill) waged war with the English. He was ultimately slain by the neighbouring O'Donnells whilst a guest at their banquet - an act that was roundly condemned as a breach of the ancient laws of hospitality.
1568 . . . Tudor plantation of Connaught (1568 - 1598).
1568 . . . The first Desmond rebellion (1568 - 1572) led by Garret Fitzgerald.
1570 . . . The presidencies of Munster and Connaught were established.
1579 . . . The second Desmond rebellion (1579 - 1583) led by the Garret Fitzgerald.
1586 . . . Tudor plantation of Munster (1586 - 1592).
1585 . . . The Composition of Connaught - lands owned by the Irish chieftains were formally surrendered to the English Crown, and then re-granted to them with titles of nobility to engender loyalty. The Composition also outlawed the traditional Brehon Laws, in favour of the Common Law of England which introduced primogeniture or automatic hereditary succession - an unfortunate departure from the ancient meritocracy.
1588 . . . Ships of the Spanish Armada were wrecked on the Irish coasts.
1592 . . . The foundation of Trinity College, Dublin.
1595 . . . Rebellion (1592 - 1603) led by Hugh O'Neill (The O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone). There was assistance from Spanish forces led by Don Juan del Aguila which landed in Kinsale, County Cork (the Irish forces marched from Ulster to Kinsale to meet them).
1607 . . . Flight of the earls - a number of the leading chieftains who had been unsuccessful in the recent rebellion left Ireland for mainland Europe.
1608 . . . Tudor plantation of Ulster (1608 - 1610) on a large scale.
1611 . . . King James I of England instituted the order of Baronet.
1620 . . . The Pilgrim Fathers sailed across the Atlantic in the Mayflower from Plymouth to Massachusetts, and drafted the first republican constitution in America (The Mayflower Compact).
1641 . . . Rebellion in Ulster (1641 - 1650).
1645 . . . Genealogical compilation (1645 - 1664) of Uí Fiachrach by Dubhaltach Mac Firbis (1585 - 1670), published in 1666.
1647 . . . The Flannelly Chalice was commissioned by Fr. James Flannelly.
1649 . . . Oliver Cromwell's military campaign in Ireland (1649 - 1650).
1652 . . . The Cromwellian land confiscations (1652 - 1653) - the majority of Irish chieftains lost their hereditary lands.
1656 . . . O'Dowd was transferred to the mountains of Coolcarney (an area comprising the parishes of Attymass and Kilgarvan in County Mayo); their former lands in the barony of Tireragh were regranted to William Chapman and William May by King James I.
1670 . . . Death of Dubhaltach Mac Firbis of Lecan, who was the last hereditary historian of Uí Fiachrach.
1689 . . . The Jacobite rebellion (1689 - 1691), often called An Cogadh an Dá Rí (the war of the two kings); characterised by the efforts
of the Irish patriot Patrick Sarsfield.
1691 . . . Ireland entered the period known as the Penal Days, when Catholics suffered many civil disabilities including loss or rights in education, arms-bearing and horse-owning. Most landed property passed into the hands of the Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy.
1699 . . . Acts restricting Irish woollen exports.
- Late English Colonisation (say, 1700 - 1900)
1704 . . . Laws restricting Catholic rights in respect of land-owning and public office.
1707 . . . Act of Union - politically united Scotland, England and Wales to form Great Britain.
1715 . . . The Flannery Chalice was commissioned by Fr. Peter Flannery.
1729 . . . Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Dean of St. Patrick's in Dublin, published "A modest proposal ...", a savage satire in which he offered for public consideration a scheme for killing off year old children, whose flesh would make "a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food". The satire was an attack on the British Government's neglect of overcrowded and poverty-stricken slums in Dublin.
1740 . . . Famine (Great Frost) (1740 - 1741). Thousands of people died when Ireland (and much of Europe) was gripped in Arctic conditions for over a year. Rivers froze, crops failed and livestock died. Indoor sub-zero conditions prevailed.
1759 . . . Founding of The Whiteboys - a Catholic secret society committed to Irish independence.
1762 . . . Fr. Nicholas Sheehy was charged with membership of the Whiteboys and hanged in Clonmel.
1775 . . . The American Revolution (1775 - 1776), culminating in the declaration of independence. It has been estimated that a little over a third of the American revolutionary forces were Irish.
1780 . . . Colonial trade open to Irish goods.
1784 . . . Founding of The Defenders - a Catholic agitation group committed to Irish independence. The group was founded in Armagh.
1789 . . . The French Revolution (1789 - 1799), culminating in the establishment of the First Republic.
1791 . . . Founding of the Society of United Irishmen - a mixed Protestant / Catholic agitation group committed to Irish independence. The group was founded by Theobald Wolfe Tone in Belfast.
1792 . . . Catholics were allowed to vote.
1792 . . . In France, the monarchy was overthrown.
1795 . . . Founding of the Orange Order - a Protestant agitation group committed to preventing Irish independence. The first Orange Lodge was established on 25th September in Armagh.
1798 . . . Rebellion, primarily concentrated in Counties Dublin, Mayo, Waterford and Wexford; characterised by the efforts of the Irish patriot Theobald Wolfe Tone. There was assistance from French forces led by General Humbert which landed in Killala, County Mayo.
1800 . . . Act of Union - politically united Ireland and Great Britain to form the United Kingdom.
1803 . . . Rebellion; characterised by the efforts of the Irish patriot Robert Emmet.
1812 . . . War between the U.S.A. and Great Britain (1812 - 1815).
1829 . . . Catholics were allowed to sit in Parliament. Catholic emancipation is generally attributed to the efforts of Daniel O'Connell (nicknamed The Liberator).
1831 . . . A petition addressed to the Lord Lieutenant was drafted by the men of Coolcarney (an area comprising the parishes of Attymass and Kilgarvan in County Mayo); James Flannilly was one of the 800 signatories. The petition eloquently expressed their dis-satisfaction with the local administration with regard to taxes, eviction, and poor relief; cited 9,000 civil bill processes for the period 1827 - 1830; and requested the sanctioning of additional public works funds to provide employment in the area. Specific mention was made of the proposed completion of the local highway which had been started in 1823 but left unfinished. This was subsequently completed in 1837 at a cost of £8,000.
1839 . . . The Night of the Big Wind, 7th January.
1843 . . . Translation by Dr. John O'Donovan (1809 - 1861) of several important annals and genealogical compilations written in ancient Gaelic (1418, 1666, etc.) by medieval scribes, including the Mac Firbis family (hereditary historians to the O'Dowds of Uí Fiachrach). His works were published by the Irish Archaeological Society and the Celtic Society throughout the 1840s, and included "The Annals of the Four Masters" (1843), "The tribes and customs of Hy-Many, commonly called O'Kelly's country" (1843), "The genealogies, customs and tribes of Hy-Fiacrach, commonly called O'Dowda's country" (1844) and "The Book of Rights" (1847).
1845 . . . Famine (Potato Blight) (1845 - 1852). Approximately one million people died, and another million emigrated when the potato harvest repeatedly failed. It is notable that Ireland produced and exported foodstuffs to Britain throughout this period.
1848 . . . Rebellion led by the Irish patriot William Smith O'Brien and the Young Irelanders.
1861 . . . The American Civil War (1861 - 1865). A military conflict between the United States of America (the Union) and 11 secessionist Southern states, organised as the Confederate States of America (the Confederacy). In the South, the conflict is also known as the War Between the States.
1867 . . . Rebellion led by the Fenians.
1879 . . . The Land War (1879 - 1882) - numerous hostile attacks by gangs of tenants on landlords around the country in an effort to force agrarian reforms.
1880 . . . Boycotting of Captain Charles Boycott in September - November.
- Modern (say, 1900 - present)
1904 . . . The Irish Literary Theatre (later known as the Abbey Theatre) was founded in Dublin.
1914 . . . The First World War (1914 - 1918).
1916 . . . The Easter Rising in Dublin - a rebellion characterised by the efforts of the Irish patriot Padraig Pearse.
1920 . . . The mutiny of the Connaught Rangers regiment of the British Army in India.
1920 . . . The War of Independence (1920 - 1922). A military conflict of guerrilla attacks and retaliatory reprisals between the Irish flying columns (light mobile units) and the British Black and Tans (an auxiliary constabulary formed from ex-army). The war was characterised by the efforts of the Irish patriot Michael Collins.
1922 . . . Independence of twenty-six (out of thirty-two) Irish counties as the Irish Free State.
1922 . . . The Irish Civil War (1922 - 1923). An internal conflict between government supporters in favour of the recent treaty with the British and partisans who rejected the treaty.
1937 . . . The new Irish National Constitution or Bunreacht na hÉireann was drafted, with broad similarities to the American Constitution.
1939 . . . The Second World War (1939 - 1945), popularly known as The Emergency in Ireland.
1949 . . . The formation of the Irish Republic; effectively twenty-six out of thirty-two counties, although the constitution claimed the entire island..
1973 . . . Entry of Irish Republic into the European Economic Community; subsequently European Community; subsequently European Union.
1998 . . . Initial membership drive for the re-vitalised Flannery Clan, culminating in formal registration with The Clans of Ireland on 1st January 1999 with approx. 175 souls in Ireland, England, U.S.A., Canada and Australia.
2000 . . . Inaugural international Clan Gathering in Dublin (Clondalkin) over the bank holiday weekend of 5th / 6th August.
2002 . . . National Clan Gathering in Galway (Carna) over the bank holiday weekend of 27th / 28th July.
2004 . . . National Clan Gathering in Tipperary (Nenagh) over the bank holiday weekend of 31st July / 1st August.
2006 . . . National Clan Gathering in Mayo (Ballina) over the weekend of 29th / 30th July.