List of Irish monarchs

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Early medieval kings in Ireland[edit]

For a list of kings of the early medieval period in the various Gaelic kingdoms of Ireland, as opposed to kings of all Ireland, see List of Irish kings.

High Kings of Ireland 846–1198[edit]

Ruaidrí was crowned as King of Ireland at Dublin in the spring of 1166. He was arguably the first undisputed full king of all Ireland. He was also the only Gaelic one, as the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169 undid the Gaelic efforts towards establishing an indigenous kingdom of the whole of Ireland. King Ruaidrí died at Cong in 1198 and was buried at Clonmacnoise. He was the last fully recognised Gaelic monarch of Ireland. Later claimants, such as Brian Ua Neill (died 1260) and Edward Bruce (died 1318), were not recognised as having this status, even among the native Irish.[citation needed]

From Lordship of Ireland to British monarchy[edit]

In 1177, as the leader of the Norman invasion of Ireland, King Henry II of England created the title of Lord of Ireland for his youngest son John, who was not then expected to succeed to any other title. However, John became king of England in 1199, and the title was held thereafter by his successors as monarchs of England, with the agreement of successive Popes. By the Crown of Ireland Act 1542, which followed soon after Henry VIII's break with Rome, the Lordship of Ireland was raised into the Kingdom of Ireland. This continued to exist as a separate Kingdom after the Acts of Union 1707 which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland into Great Britain.

  • From King John (of the House of Plantagenet) to King Henry VIII (of the House of Tudor), English monarchs were also Lords of Ireland.
  • From King Henry VIII to Queen Anne (of the House of Stuart), English monarchs were also King or Queen of Ireland.
  • From Queen Anne to King George III (of the House of Hanover), British monarchs were also King or Queen of Ireland.
  • Note: In 1506 Lambert Simnel, an English pretender to the throne, was crowned Edward VI of Ireland

During the reign of George III of the United Kingdom the Kingdoms of Great Britain and of Ireland merged to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland by the terms of the Act of Union 1800.

British monarchy to Irish monarchy[edit]

In 1921 the Partition of Ireland occurred where the island was divided in two: the Irish Free State, which became a dominion; and Northern Ireland, which remained part of the United Kingdom.

With the passage in 1931 of the Statute of Westminster, the British monarch (that is, King George V in his British council, parliament, and courts) ceased to have dominion over the Irish Free State; only the monarch in right of Ireland had sovereignty over that realm, advised by Irish ministers and acting in his Irish parliament and courts only,[1][2] though the monarch of the Irish Free State was the same person as the monarch of the United Kingdom and the other Dominions of the British Commonwealth.

In 1936, the Irish parliament removed most functions of the monarch from the constitution during the abdication crisis. Whether the Irish head of state from 1936 to 1949 was King George VI, or the President of Ireland, is unclear.[3][4]

The Republic of Ireland Act proclaimed the Irish Free State a republic with effect from 1949 and removed the remaining duties of the monarch, and Ireland formally withdrew from the British Commonwealth.[5]

Northern Ireland remained as a constituent part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


  1. ^ "History of Ireland > The Irish Free State (1922-1937)". Collins 22 Society. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Cottrell, Peter (2008). The Irish Civil War 1922-23. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-84603-270-7. 
  3. ^ McMahon, Deirdre (1984). Republicans and Imperialists: Anglo-Irish Relations in the 1930's. p. 181. ISBN 0300030711. 
  4. ^ In the words of Mary E. Daly (January 2007). "The Irish Free State/Éire/Republic of Ireland/Ireland: "A Country by Any Other Name"?". Journal of British Studies 46 (1): 72–90. doi:10.1086/508399. JSTOR 10.1086/508399. : "After the enactment of the 1936 External Relations Act and the 1937 Constitution, Ireland's only remaining link with the crown had been the accreditation of diplomats. The president of Ireland was the head of state. When opposition deputies asked de Valera whether Ireland was a republic—a favorite pastime in the mid‐1940s—he tended to resort to dictionary definitions showing that Ireland had all the attributes of a republic."
  5. ^ Kondō, Atsushi (2001). Citizenship in a Global World: Comparing Citizenship Rights for Aliens. Hampshire: Palgrave. p. 120. ISBN 0-333-80265-9. Ireland reluctantly remained a member of the Commonwealth as Irish citizens remained British Subjects. However, Irish representatives stopped attending Commonwealth meetings in 1937 and Ireland adopted a position of neutrality in World War II. Ireland became a Republic in 1949 and formally left the Commonwealth.