1981 – 1990


History of Ireland 1981 - 1990


  • February 14 - Forty young people die in a fire at the Stardust Ballroom in Artane, Dublin.
  • March 1 - Bobby Sands begins a hunger strike at the Maze prison in Belfast.
  • March 5 - The petrol strike ends as 800 tanker drivers resume work.
  • April 10 - Bobby Sands is elected MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone.
  • May 2 - An Aer Lingus Boeing 737 en route from Dublin to London is hijacked and ordered to fly to Tehran. The flight is diverted to Paris and the hijacker, Laurence Downey, is arrested.
  • May 5 - Bobby Sands dies on the 66th day of his hunger strike in the Maze Prison in Belfast.
  • May 12 - Francis Hughes, once the most wanted man in the North, dies on the 59th day of his hunger strike in Belfast.
  • May 21 - Raymond McCreesh amd Patsy O'Hara both die on the 61st day of their hunger strike in the Maze Prison.
  • June 30 - Fine Gael leader Dr. Garret FitzGerald is elected Taoiseach.
  • July 8 - IRA hunger striker Joseph McDonnell dies. He is the fifth person to die.
  • August 1 - Hunger striker Kevin Lynch dies.
  • August 2 - Kieran Doherty, TD for Cavan-Monaghan, dies on the 73rd day of his hunger strike.
  • September 11 - The Irish Sugar Company announces that it is to close its factory in Tuam, County Galway.
  • September 14 - Artist and writer Christy Brown is buried in Dublin.
  • December 27 - Supporters of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children march in Dublin to demand a referendum for a pro-life amendment to the Constitution.


  • January 21 - Kildare TD, Charlie McCreevy, is expelled from the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party for criticising Charles Haughey.
  • March 12 - The country's first crematorium is officially opened at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.
  • April 28 - Work begins on the Cork-Dublin natural gas pipeline.
  • May 10 - Seamus Mallon of the SDLP is appointed to Seanad Éireann.
  • May 24 - 20,000 people across the country march in protest at income tax and PRSI changes.
  • September 14 - Ireland mourns the death of Princess Grace of Monaco.
  • October 6 - An TaoiseachCharles Haughey emerges with a majority of 58 votes to 22 in an open ballot on Charlie McCreevy's motion of no confidence in his leadership.
  • October 15 - Cork Airport celebrates its 21st birthday. The airport has yet to make a profit.
  • October 20 - Polling takes place in the Assembly elections in Northern Ireland.
  • November 2 - Former leader of the Labour Party, Michael O Leary, joins the Fine Gael Party.
  • November 4 - The government loses a confidence motion in the Dáil by 82 votes to 80. President Hillery dissolves the Twenty-Third Dáil.
  • December 1 - Dublin's Grafton Street officially opens as a pedestrianised street.


  • January 19 - The government confirm that the Gardaí were involved in the bugging of politicians and journalists telephones.
  • February 8 - A motion calling for the resignation of Charles Haughey as leader fails after a 12 hour Fianna Fáil meeting.
  • February 9 - The racehorse Shergar is kidnapped from Ballymany Stud, County Kildare.
  • April 14 - The inaugural meeting of Aosdána, an affiliation of creative artists, takes place in the Old Parliament Building, Dublin.
  • April 25 - 2,000 people demonstrate in Dublin against the proposed Pro-Life Amendment Bill.
  • May 20 - The funeral takes place of former TánaisteFrank Aiken.
  • May 23 - The Bushmills Distillery in County Antrim celebrates its 350th anniversary.
  • May 27 - A Mexican jet stranded for five weeks at Mallow Racecourse departs.
  • May 30 - The inaugural meeting of the New Ireland Forum takes place at Dublin Castle.
  • June 10 - Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin is elected the new MP for West Belfast.
  • September 8 - The referendum on the constitutional amendment in relation to abortion is carried by a two to one majority.
  • September 20 - Leading politicians pay tribute to former TánaisteGeorge Colley as he is layed to rest.
  • November 25 - Quinnsworth executive Don Tidey is kidnapped outside his home in Dublin.
  • December 16 - Don Tidey is rescued in County Leitrim.


  • January 1 - Galway City begins celebrations marking its mayoral status grtanted by King Richard III in 1484.
  • January 10 - Seán MacEntee, founder member of Fianna Fáil and former Tánaiste, dies aged 94. He was the last surviving member of the First Dáil.
  • January 30 - Luke Kelly of the Dubliners dies aged 43.
  • March 14 - Sinn Féin MP Gerry Adams is shot and wounded in Belfast.
  • May 22 - The village of Ballyporeen, County Tipperary prepares for the visit of US PresidentRonald Reagan.
  • June 3 - 10,000 people take part in an anti-Reagan march in Dublin.
  • June 4 - President Reagan addresses a joint session of the houses of the Oireachtas.
  • July 14 - Columban missionary Fr Niall O'Brien, who was imprisoned in the Philippines, is released.
  • July 23 - The DART light-rail service between Howth and Bray is introduced.
  • October 5 - In Dublin women workers in Dunnes Stores, who have been on strike for the past 11 weeks in support of a dispute over the handling of South African fruit, begin a sit-in at the store.
  • November 8 - RTÉ's first newsreader, Charles Mitchel, reads his last news bulletin.
  • December 2 - EEC heads of government visit President Hillery and Mrs Hillery at Áras an Uachtaráin.
  • December 7 - The most sophisticated naval vessel ever built in this country, the £25 million LE Eithne is commissioned at the Haulbowline naval base.



  • January 2 - The national offices of the Progressive Democrats are officially opened.
  • January 4 - Phil Lynnot, lead singer with Thin Lizzy, dies aged 35.
  • February 11 - Ireland's new soccer team manager, Jack Charlton, arrives in Dublin.
  • March 18 - Irish citizenship is conferred on Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O'Neill, for inspiring constitutional nationalists to launch a new initiative for a new Ireland.
  • March 31 - President Hillery and Mrs. Hillery start a four-day official visit to Austria. This is the first-ever official visit there by an Irish head of state.
  • May 6 - The Divorce Action Group launches its campaign for the forthcoming referendum.
  • May 30 - Knock Airport, County Mayo is officially opened.
  • June 12 - Two giant pandas, Ming Ming and Ping Ping, arrive at Dublin zoo.
  • June 21 - An anti-divorce rally takes place in Dublin.
  • June 27 - Across the country counting begins in the Divorce Referendum. Tallymen predict a strong 'no' vote.
  • August 7 - The deputy-leader of the DUP, Peter Robinson MP, is arrested as a loyalist mob vandilises a garda barracks in County Monaghan.
  • December 25 - Dublin Airport opens for the first time on Christmas Day.


  • January 20 - Labour ministers resign from the government over a disagreement over budget proposals.
  • March 11 - Former Taoiseach Dr. Garret FitzGerald resigns the leadership of Fine Gael.
  • March 22 - The National Lottery is launched.
  • May 26 - Voters go to the poll in the referendum on the Single European Act. Nearly 70% vote in favour of the 10th amendment to the constitution.
  • July 26 - Stephen Roche wins the Tour de France.
  • November 8 - 11 civilians are killed in an explosion during a Remembrance Day service in Enniskillen.
  • November 10 - The funeral takes place in Dublin of the broadcaster Eamonn Andrews.


  • January 1 - Dublin City begins its millennium celebrations.
  • January 11 - John Hume and Gerry Adams have a surprise meeting in Belfast.
  • January 15 - Former Nobel Prize-winner Seán MacBride dies aged 83.
  • March 7 - It is agreed that a millennium fountain called the Anna Livia Fountain is to be built on O'Connell Street.
  • March 13 - Seán Kelly wins the Paris-Nice cycle race for the seventh year in a row.
  • March 16 - Three men are killed and 70 are wounded in a gun and grenade attack on mournersin Milltown Cemetery during the funerals of three IRA members.
  • March 19 - 5,000 people turn out for an anti-apartheid rally at the GPO in Dublin.
  • March 22 - Tributes are paid to Aran Islands poet Máirtín Ó Díreáin at his funeral in Dublin.
  • May 15 - Seán Kelly wins the tour of Spain cycle race.
  • June 12 - The Republic of Ireland celevrates its most historic win in 60 years by beating England 1-0.
  • July 10 - Dublin celebrates its official 1,000th birthday.
  • July 18 - Nelson Mandela, the jailed anti-aparthied leader, is awarded the freedom of Dublin City.
  • August 11 - The Department of Health launches an information booklet as the number of [{AIDS]] cases increases dramatically.
  • August 28 - Leopardstown Racecourse celebrates its 100th birthday.
  • October 8 - A tax amnesty brings in over £500 million.
  • November 16 - Minister for FinanceRay MacSharry is appointed Ireland's new EC Commissioner.


  • January 2 - Dundalk, County Louth celebrates its 1200 year heritage.
  • February 12 - Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane is shot dead by loyalists.
  • March 21 - Three Irish soldiers are killed in a alndmine explosion in southern Lebanon.
  • April 3 - Belfast-born Alex Higgins beats Stephen Hendry to win the British]] Benson and Hedges snooker championship.
  • April 4 - The Windmill Lane Consortium says that if it gets the franchise it will be on the air within 9 to 12 months with its station TV3.
  • June 16 - Ray McAnally, one of the country's most versatile actors, dies suddenly.
  • June 29 - Charles Haughey resigns as Taoiseach. He remains on in a caretaker capacity.
  • August 19 - 10,000 people march from Dublin city centre to the British Embassy calling for British withdrawl from Northern Ireland.
  • September 4 - Century Radio goes on the air for the first time.
  • October 11 - The Republic of Ireland beat Northern Ireland 3-0 in a World Cup Qualifier at Lansdowne Road.
  • October 19 - Three of the Guildford Four are released in London. Paul Hill is re-arrested.
  • December 21 - Aer Rianta's 5,000,000th passenger is presented with a holiday to Florida.
  • December 26 - Poet, playwright and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Samuel Beckett, dies in Paris.


  • April 3 - There is all-party support for the Government bill to abolish the death penalty for capital murder and replace it with lengthy prison sentences.
  • April 26 - The Labour Party selects Mary Robinson as its candidate in the presidential election.
  • June 11 - The Republic of Ireland draws 1-1 with England in the first game of the World Cup.
  • June 25 - The Republic of Ireland reach the last eight in the World Cup.
  • June 30 - The Republic of Ireland lose 1-0 to Italy.
  • July 2 - Deputy President of the ANC, Nelson Mandela, addresses a joint session of both houses of the Oireachtas.
  • August 24 - Brian Keenan is released after 1574 days in captivity in Beirut.
  • October 25 - Presidential candidate Brian Lenihan denies that he tried to contact President Hillery to stop the dissolution of the Dáil in 1982. This is in spite of a taped interview where he confirms that he did.
  • October 31 - An Tánaiste and Minister for DefenceBrian Lenihan is sacked from the government over the telephone call controversy.
  • November 9 - Mary Robinson is elected the seventh President of Ireland.
  • December 3 - Mary Robinson is inaugurated as President of Ireland. Dr. Patrick Hillery bows out after 14 years as Head of State.

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