Timeline of events, 1919-69

The dates given in this table for the openings of recognised diplomatic missions are the dates when a resident Irish diplomat was first based in the locations concerned. In most cases diplomatic relations had been established many years before resident missions were established and non-resident ministers and ambassadors had been appointed. Particularly from 1946 onwards, ambassadors in the list of missions below were also accredited to other countries and institutions. Prior to 1946 Irish diplomatic missions tended to be either legations or high commissions. Ireland’s first ‘Embassy’ was opened in 1946, when the first ambassador to the Holy See was appointed.  Subsequently high commissions became embassies after Ireland left the Commonwealth in 1949. From the 1950s on legations were regularly upgraded to full embassies.

Year Major events in Irish foreign relations
1919 21 Jan. First Dáil Éireann assembles in Mansion House, Dublin; issues ‘Declaration of Independence’ and ‘Message to the Free Nations of the World’

Feb. Dáil Éireann sends Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh to Paris as envoy to the postwar peace conference, seeking recognition of Irish independence.

1 June. Éamon de Valera, as president of Dáil Éireann, departs Ireland to embark on publicity and fundraising tour of United States.

1920 Jan. Dáil Éireann external loan launched in United States.

23 Dec. Government of Ireland Act, 1920, establishes two ‘Home Rule’ legislatures in Ireland, thereby partitioning Ireland; Éamon de Valera returns to Ireland from the United States.

1921 22 June. Northern Ireland parliament officially opened in Belfast by King George V.

11 July. Truce between British Army and IRA comes into effect.

11 Oct.6 Dec. Negotiations in London lead to signature of ‘Articles of Agreement’ (Anglo-Irish treaty), creating the Irish Free State with dominion status within British Empire from December 1922 onwards.

14 Dec. Dáil Éireann debate on the Anglo-Irish treaty begins.

1922 7 Jan. Anglo-Irish treaty approved by the Dáil, which splits over whether to accept or reject its terms.

14 Jan. Provisional Government established under Michael Collins.

28 June. Outbreak of Civil War between anti-treaty and pro-treaty forces.

Aug. Deaths of Arthur Griffith (12 Aug.) and Michael Collins (22 Aug.); W.T. Cosgrave becomes chairman of Provisional Government.

6 Dec. Irish Free State formally comes into being.

1923 31 Mar. Customs barriers between Irish Free State and United Kingdom come into effect.

27 Apr. Ceasefire by anti-treaty IRA ends Civil War; establishment of Cumann na nGaedhal, led by W.T. Cosgrave as President of the Executive Council.

10 Sept. Irish Free State becomes member of League of Nations.

1 Oct.8 Nov. Imperial conference held in London

1924 3 Apr. First Irish Free State passports issued.

11 July. Anglo-Irish treaty registered as an international agreement with the League of Nations.

7 Oct. T.A. Smiddy officially appointed as first officially accredited diplomatic representative of the Irish Free State.

1925 7 Nov. Final report of Boundary Commission leaked in press.

3 Dec. Agreement between Irish Free State, UK and Northern Ireland governments to accept existing border between Free State and Northern Ireland.

1926 16 May. Foundation of Fianna Fáil party by Éamon de Valera.

19 Oct.23 Nov. Imperial conference held in London agrees on equal status of the dominions.

1927 10 July. Assassination of Kevin O’Higgins in Dublin.

8 Aug. Joseph Walshe officially appointed as first Secretary of the Department of External Affairs.

1928 27 Aug. Irish Free State signs first international treaty in Paris: ‘The international treaty for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy’ (‘Kellogg-Briand pact’).
1930 17 Sept Irish Free State begins three-year term on Council of League of Nations.
1931 11 Dec. Statute of Westminster confirms legislative supremacy of dominion parliaments over that of Westminster, effectively making the dominions fully autonomous.
1932 16 Feb. Following general election Fianna Fáil, founded in 1926 and led by Éamon de Valera, take over from

15 July. Economic War begins with imposition of duties on exports from the Irish Free State to the UK in retaliation for withholding of land annuity payments.

21 July20 Aug. Imperial economic conference held in Ottowa; this was the final such conference attended by Irish government ministers.

26 Sept. Éamon de Valera, as chairman of League of Nations, makes inaugural speech to League Assembly.

1933 2 Sept. Foundation of Fine Gael as successor organisation to Cumann na nGaedhal.

2, 16 Nov. Constitutional amendments introduced to limit role of crown representative (governor-general) in Irish Free State.

1934 21 Dec. Cattle and coal agreement between Irish Free State and United Kingdom.
1936 11 Dec. Executive Authority (External Relations) Act passed in response to abdication of Edward VIII; crown is now only recognised for purposes of external affairs.
1937 1 July. New constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann, ratified by referendum.
1938 25 April. Anglo-Irish agreements on trade, and the handover of remaining ‘Treaty Ports’, bring Economic War to an end.

12 Sept. Éamon de Valera elected as president of assembly of League of Nations.

1939 2 Sept. Irish neutrality declared on outbreak of Second World War.
1941 Jan, May. German bombings of Irish territory.
1945 2 May. Éamon de Valera extends official condolences to German legation on death of Adolf Hitler.
1946 24 July. Dáil Éireann votes to apply for membership of United Nations.
1947 12 July-22 Sept 1947. Irish delegation attends Committee of European Economic Co-operation (CEEC) in Paris, leading to Irish participation in the US-led European Recovery Programme (the ‘Marshall Plan’).
1948 4 Feb. General election sees an ‘inter-party’ coalition government come to power; John A. Costello of Fine Gael replaces De Valera as Taoiseach.

7 Sept. Costello announces plan to repeal External Relations Act and leave Commonwealth while on official visit to Canada.

21 Dec. Republic of Ireland Act repeals External Relations Act and confirms description of state as a republic.

1949 8 Feb. Ireland declines to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) due to concerns over the maintenance of partition.

18 April. Ireland officially leaves Commonwealth and becomes a republic.

5 May. Ireland becomes one of the ten founding members of the Council of Europe.

1950 20 Dec. Legislation passed by Dáil to establish Industrial Development Authority.
1951 30 May. General election returns Fianna Fáil to power, with De Valera as Taoiseach.
1952 2 July. Legislation passed by Dáil Éireann to establish Bord Failte.
1954 18 May. General election returns a second inter-party coalition to power, again under John A. Costello as Taoiseach.
1955 14 Dec. Ireland admitted to membership of United Nations.
1956 12 Dec. IRA ‘Border Campaign’ begins.
1957 5 Mar. General election returns Fianna Fáil to power, under de Valera as Taoiseach.
1958 5 Jun. Irish troops join UN observer mission (UNOGIL) in Lebanon for first time.

11 Nov. Publication of White Paper, Programme for economic expansion.

1959 17 June. Éamon de Valera steps down as Taoiseach after his election as president, to be replaced by Seán Lemass.
1960 27 July. Irish troops deployed to Congo as part of UN peacekeeping mission (ONUC).

20 Sept. Frederick H. Boland, as head of Irish mission to UN, is elected president of UN General Assembly.

1961 1 Aug. Ireland submits formal application to join European Economic Community (EEC)
1963 14 Jan. Veto of British application to join EEC by French President Charles de Gaulle stalls Irish application to join the bloc.

26-29 June. US President John F. Kennedy visits Ireland.

1964 9 April. Irish troops deployed to Cyprus as part of UN peacekeeping mission (UNFICYP).
1965 14 Jan. Lemass and Northern Ireland Prime Minister Terence O’Neill meet in Belfast for first official meeting of Ireland and Northern Ireland leaders since 1925.

14 Dec. Signing of Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA).

1966 10 Nov. Jack Lynch become Taoiseach on resignation of Lemass.
1967 27 Nov. Second veto of British application to join EEC by French President Charles de Gaulle stalls Irish application to join the bloc.

11 Dec. Lynch meets Terence O’Neill in Belfast.

1968 8 Jan. Lynch meets Terence O’Neill in Dublin.

13-16 Aug. State visit to Japan by Jack Lynch, who becomes first Taoiseach to visit Asia.

1969 12-14 Aug. ‘Battle of the Bogside’ in Derry; British troops deployed in Northern Ireland (14 Aug.).

21 Sept. Irish government raises the outbreak of major unrest in Northern Ireland at the UN Security Council in an unsuccessful attempt to secure UN intervention.

Year Opening of Irish diplomatic missions Total
1923 United Kingdom

League of Nations (closed 1940)

1924 United States of America 3
1929 Holy See (closed 2011-2014)


Germany (closed 1945 to 1950)

Boston (Consulate)

1930 New York (Consulate) 8
1933 Chicago (Consulate)

San Francisco (Consulate)

1935 Spain 11
1938 Italy 12
1939 Canada 13
1940 Switzerland 13
1942 Portugal 14
1946 Australia


1947 Argentina 16
1950 The Netherlands


1956 United Nations (New York) 20
1960 Nigeria 21
1962 Hamburg (Consulate) (closed 1982)


1964 India 24
1965 United Nations (Geneva) 25
1966 European Communities 26