1920 in Ireland - Events


  • 2 January - Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteers of the 1st Cork Brigade (commanded by Mick Leahy) capture Carrigtwohill Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) barracks, the first such attack carried out as official Republican policy.
  • 27 February - The text of the Home Rule Bill to be introduced in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom is published. It provides for the establishment of a 128-member parliament in Dublin and a 52-member parliament in Belfast.
  • 20 March - The Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork (since January), Tomás Mac Curtain, is murdered by armed and disguised RIC men who break into his home.
  • 22 March - Thousands gather to pay their respects to the murdered Tomás Mac Curtain. Over 8,000 IRA Volunteers line the route to St. Finbarr's Cemetery. He is succeeded as Lord Mayor by Terence MacSwiney.
  • 25 March - British recruits to the RIC begin to arrive in Ireland. They become known from their improvised uniforms as the "Black and Tans".
  • 2 April - Canadian-born lawyer Sir Hamar Greenwood, Bt, PC, KC, MP, is appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland.
  • 5 April - IRA prisoners began a hunger strike in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, demanding prisoner of war status.
  • 15 April–8 June - Arthur Griffith establishes a Republican legal system (under Austin Stack) in areas under IRA control. The traditional Summer Assizes become virtually unworkable.
  • 2 May - Viscount Fitzalan is sworn in as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the first Catholic to hold the viceroyalty since the reign of King James II.
  • 20 May - Dublin dock workers refuse to handle British military material, and are soon joined in the boycott by members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union.
  • 22 May - In Rome, Pope Benedict XV beatifies Oliver Plunkett.
  • 4 June - The IRA orders a boycott of the RIC and their families.
  • 17 June - "The Listowel Mutiny": RIC constables based at Listowel refuse orders to assist the British Army. The RIC is ordered to shoot armed IRA men who do not surrender when challenged.
  • 29 June - Dáil Courts established to hear civil cases.
  • 27 July - The first recruits – former British Army officers – join the RIC's Auxiliary Division.
  • 31 July - Bishop Daniel Mannix is detained onboard ship off Queenstown and prevented from landing in Ireland.
  • 13 August - The Restoration of Order in Ireland Act receives Royal Assent, providing for Irish Republican Army activists to be tried by court-martial.
  • 19 August - Following his conviction by court martial for sedition, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, goes on hunger strike in Brixton Prison.
  • 24 August - Special Constables are enrolled following rioting in Ulster.
  • 20 September - "Sack of Balbriggan" in County Dublin: "Black and Tans" destroy more than fifty properties in the town.
  • 28 September - There are disturbances at Mallow, County Cork, when a raid on a military barracks by Liam Lynch and Ernie O'Malley is followed by a sack of the town by British soldiers.
  • 22 October - Formation of the Ulster Special Constabulary, an armed (and predominantly Protestant) police reserve, is announced.
  • 25 October - Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, dies in Brixton Prison on the 74th day of his hunger strike.
  • 31 October - Terence MacSwiney is buried in St. Finbarr's Cemetery in his native Cork City. Arthur Griffith delivers the graveside oration.
  • 1 November - An 18-year-old medical student, Kevin Barry, is executed in Mountjoy Prison for participating in the killing of three young unarmed British soldiers.
  • 12 November - A hunger strike in Cork Prison is called off after the Sinn Féin President, Arthur Griffith, intervenes.
  • 21 November - Bloody Sunday: The Irish Republican Army, on the instructions of Michael Collins, shoot dead the "Cairo gang", fourteen British undercover agents in Dublin, most in their homes. Later that day the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary open fire on a crowd at a Gaelic Athletic Association Football match in Croke Park, killing 12 people and wounding 60. Three men are shot that night in Dublin Castle "while trying to escape".
  • 28 November - Kilmichael Ambush: The flying column of the 3rd Cork Brigade IRA, led by Tom Barry, ambushes and kills sixteen Auxiliaries at Kilmichael, County Cork, which leads to official reprisals.
  • 10 December - Martial law is declared in Counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary.
  • 11 December - The Burning of Cork: British forces set fire to some 5 acres (20,000 m2) of the centre of Cork City, including the City Hall, in reprisal attacks after a British auxiliary is killed in a guerilla ambush.
  • 23 December
    • Government of Ireland Act passed by the British Parliament, enacting the Home Rule Bill.
    • Éamon de Valera returns from attempting to secure support from the United States for the Irish Republic.

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