Irish passport ranked sixth strongest in the world – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/irish-passport-ranked-sixth-strongest-in-the-world-40310817.html

International body backs Irish language role

Graffiti in Belfast calling for an Irish Language Act

Language commissioners from six countries have supported a similar role being established in the North of Ireland.

Members of the International Association of Language Commissioners voiced their support in a letter to the Irish language organisation, Conradh na Gaeilge.

An Irish language commissioner was a key feature of previous proposals for an Irish language act.

However, the proposals have been politically contentious.

Language laws ‘strengthen not threaten’
The power of words
Both main unionist parties have opposed a standalone act, but other parties have supported calls for one.

The International Association of Language Commissioners is an umbrella body for language commissioners in a number of countries.

Eleven commissioners from Canada, Spain, Wales, Ireland, Kosovo and Belgium have signed the letter of support.

Five of the signatories are from regions of Canada, while both the Basque and Catalonian language commissioners from Spain have put their name to the letter.

Police standards
The principal role of an Irish language commissioner would be to promote and facilitate the use of the language.

They would also police the standards required of public sector bodies in delivering services in Irish.

The letter said that language commissioners brought many advantages.

“In our view language commissioners can be central in the protection and preservation of a language that is spoken by a minority,” it read.

Dr Niall Comer, from Conradh na Gaeilge, said that independent commissioners were vital in protecting language rights.

“Language rights and rights-based legislation are afforded to minority and indigenous language communities across these islands and indeed across the world,” he said.

“If anything we are the anomaly.”

A working group on rights, languages and identity has been established as part of the ongoing talks between the political parties at Stormont.

With many thanks to: BBCNI and Robbie Meredith NI Education Correspondent for the original story

Related Topics
Stormont stalemate

The reality of Political Policing that some choose to forget still exists in the Occupied Six counties ‘Today’ !!!

Disgraceful Jailed for speaking Irish

Arrested by the RUC/PSNI for speaking his own language.

 

 

29th July 1915 – The remains of the late Fenian leader Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa are lying in state for three days at City Hall in Dublin.

The remains had been brought by the American liner St Paul from New York to Liverpool, and then transferred to the steamer Carlow, which conveyed them to Dublin.

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O'Donovan Rossa and Mary Jane

https://m.facebook.com/100010604520513/albums/100510776979073/#!/groups/250140148442168?view=permalink&id=797359887053522

image
O'Donovan Rossa lying in state in City Hall, Dublin.

image
Mary Jane O'Donovan Rossa.

With many thanks to: Gillean Robertson Miller – 1916 Easter Rising Historical Society.
http:// https://m.facebook.com/dakota29?soft=notifications#!/groups/250140148442168?notif_t=group_activity&ref=m_notif

1916 Easter Rising Historical Society

The remains had been brought by the American liner St Paul from New York to Liverpool, and then transferred to the steamer Carlow, which conveyed them to Dublin.

image
O'Donovan Rossa and Mary Jane

https://m.facebook.com/100010604520513/albums/100510776979073/#!/groups/250140148442168?view=permalink&id=797359887053522

image
O'Donovan Rossa lying in state in City Hall, Dublin.

image
Mary Jane O'Donovan Rossa.

With many thanks to: Gillean Robertson Miller – 1916 Easter Rising Historical Society.
http:// https://m.facebook.com/dakota29?soft=notifications#!/groups/250140148442168?notif_t=group_activity&ref=m_notif

Stormontgate food waste ‘scandalous’ !!!

’66 tonnes thrown out in three years’.

2010 (Sept-Dec) 11,800kg

2011         24,476kg

2012         18,497kg

2013(Jan-Sept)    11,912kg

Total =                   66,685kg

 STORMONT is throwing away more than a tonnes of unused food every month. The assembly has thrown out over 66 tonnes of uneaten food over the past three years, figures obtained by The Irish News can reveal.

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Stormont was provided with more than £165,000 worth of food during 2013, according to figures obtained by The Irish News Through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. It started recording its food waste in August 2010, with an average of 1,750kg of uneaten food being disposed of by parliament buildings and the wider Stormont Estate on average since then. In a FOI rresponds the assembly said its current waste management contractor was “not commissioned to recycle food waste” but was “committed to do so”. However, it said commercially produced food waste is recycled. Earlier this year The Irish News revealed hungry MLAs have munched their way through more than £180,000 worth of refreshments at assembly committee meetings over the past six years.

Stormonts committee meetings are supplied with trays of tasty snacks, from tea and coffee to sandwiches and variates of biscuits. In October Tesco sparked a food waste debate after the supermarket giant revealed it had thrown away 28,500 tonnes of food in the first six months of 2013. Mr Agnew said food waste was a major environmental problem which if tackled would be the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road. “While there has been a reduction in the level of food wasted at the assembly over the last couple of years, the fact that so much food is still being thrown away certainly doesn’t set a good example or leave a good impression with the public,” he said. “We need a similar law to the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act in place in the USA to enable organisations to donate excess food without the threat of liability.” A spokesman for the assembly said: “The assembly endeavours to ensure that food waste from all its outlets is minimised.”

With many thanks to: Brendan HughesThe Irish News.

Below is a copy of the letter that was sent to all MSP’s by the James Connolly Society, Scotland.

1

Seán Heuston Dublin 1916 Society

A chara,

On behalf of the 1916 Societies I request your support for our campaign to hold an All Ireland Referendum on Irish Unity. The people of Scotland will exercise their right to national self-determination in a constitutional referendum in September 2014 and we believe the people of Ireland have the same right to determine their constitutional future without outside interference or impediment.

Irrespective of their personal and political positions on independence Scottish parliamentarians have acknowledged the right of the people of Scotland to decide. We ask you to support the campaign to for the Irish peoples rights in this regard to be respected.

The 1916 Societies are Ireland’s fastest growing political movement. We have established Societies throughout Ireland, Australia, United States as well as Scotland. The 1916 Societies are an independent Irish Political Movement that looks upon the ideals and principals set out in the 1916 Proclamation as our significant point of reference.

The proposed Six County border poll under Britain’s Northern Ireland Act 1998 permits the Secretary of State (an English politician devoid of a single vote in Ireland) to determine:

when and if a poll may be called,

the wording of the poll and,

who qualifies to vote.

Even if passed the British parliament retains the final say on whether or not the result will be endorsed by the UK government.

We believe the core concept of Irish republicanism is that Irish constitutional authority derives from the Irish people and does not defer to laws or decrees emanating from London.

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising it is clear that Britain continues to refuse to recognise Ireland as one democratic unit and presumes that Westminster will define the parameters of Irish democracy.

Republicanism is a unifying concept based on interdependence as opposed to tribal commonality. The exceptional Republican leadership of 1916 knew that interdependence could only be nurtured within a national context and not a partitionist one. They were very specific about that in the Proclamation calling for a ‘National Government representative of the whole people of Ireland’ and declaring that the Republic must be,

‘…oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.’

A Six County poll legitimises the very mechanisms invented by Britain to harness these differences to British interests by endorsing the Unionist veto and accepting the artificial statelet that incubates and nurtures the sectarian dynamic in Irish politics.

The 1916 Proclamation for too long has been relegated to the status of a notional aspiration. The 1916 Societies wish to be part of a broad movement which reinstates the Proclamation of the Republic to its rightful place and its original intent as a template for action. In that spirit we respectfully request your endorsement of an All Ireland Referendum on Irish Unity. One Ireland – One Vote.

Is mise le meas,

Jim Slaven

Liam Mellows words in 1921 might as well have been written today !!!

Liam Mellows (1895-1922)

Thomás Allen Meath 1916 Society

The Government of the Free State will, with those who support it now liking it or not, eventually occupy the same relationship towards the people of Ireland as Dublin Castle does today, because it will be the barrier government between the British and the Irish people. And the Irish people, before they can struggle on will have to do something to remove that Free State government. That I think, has been the history of this country most of the time, as it is the history of most countries that go the way now urged by those who support the Free State. If the Free State is accepted and put into operation it will provide the means for the British government to get its hold back again…

RESIST BRITISH RULE IN IRELAND – FREEDOM STRUGGLE IN IRELAND

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Supporters of the Irish Republican Army

The present conflict in Ireland is a direct consequence of British colonial interference which has, for centuries, denied the Irish people their right to self-determination.

BACKGROUND:

Ever since the initial invasion in 1169, the British have attempted to assert their authority in Ireland in the face of Irish resistance. For more than a thousand years before the British invasion began, the Irish had an individual and highly developed cultural identity, a progressive legal system and established political structures. To undermine and control the Irish nation, the British had to rely on the classical imperialist tactics of “Divide and Rule” and colonisation.

In the early stages of its colonial conquest of Ireland the British introduced apartheid laws which prohibited social contact, including intermarriage, between the colonists and the Irish. This apartheid legislation failed in its objective, however, because the colonists were few in number and widely dispersed so that they could not long maintain their separateness. More than four centuries after their arrival, the British effectively ruled only a tiny area of Ireland around the present capital city of Dublin, and even this area was subjected to the ever present reality of Irish resistance. Elsewhere the colonists had, as history records, become more Irish than the Irish themselves.

Britain renewed and intensified its efforts to conquer Ireland in the years following the Protestant Reformation. Since the Irish people remained overwhelmingly Catholic, they were regarded as a potential threat by Protestant Britain, especially in the era of religious wars which erupted in 16th and 17th century Europe.

A more effective method of colonisation known as Plantation, was implemented on a systematic basis with large concentrations of British people being ‘planted’ in various parts of Ireland where they received land grants. This policy was applied with particular zeal and efficiency in the northern part of Ireland (Ulster) where Irish resistance to British rule was always strongest. Here, as elsewhere, the native Irish population was dispossessed of its land and forced to flee into mountainous and boggy countryside.

The purpose of the Plantation policy was to pacify Ireland and to stabilise it in the interests of the British Government by establishing an effective garrison. The Planters constituted that garrison and their continued loyalty to Britain was secured on the basis of the social, political and economic privileges which they were given and on the continued ability of the British Government to keep them divided from the native population.

While the Plantation strategy was generally effective in stabilising British control, it was not always so, and Irish resistance continued throughout the 17th century until military defeat, dispossession and a series of Penal Laws combined to stifle opposition to Britain. By the end of the 18th century, when the religious wars were a fading memory and a new spirit of radicalism and Republicanism was spreading, it appeared that Britain’s divide and rule policy in Ireland had come unstuck when a section of the Protestant population (descendants of the Planters) joined with their Catholic neighbours in demanding an Irish Republic. The United Irishmen, as they became known, rose in rebellion in 1798 but this rebellion was brutally suppressed by the British and their native allies.

Those allies included the majority of the Protestant population (many of whom were organised in a sectarian Masonic movement known as the Orange Order) and also an emerging middle-class

which included Catholic business people and the Catholic hierarchy. All of these saw their interests being guaranteed by continued British rule rather than in a separate Irish Republic which was pledged to justice and equality for all its citizens.

In the aftermath of the 1798 rebellion the British decided that their control could only be guaranteed through direct rule from London. An Act of Union was introduced which transferred the limited legislative powers of the colonial ascendancy to the British Parliament where the interests of Ireland and the Irish people were subjected to the demands of and increasingly powerful and ambitious imperialist power.

Throughout the 19th century as the demand for Irish freedom was raised, and even the demand for limited freedom within the British Empire, the British Establishment deliberately fomented sectarian divisions and, when it suited, they gave every encouragement to the Orange Order. The Catholic middle-class which developed throughout this period articulated the demand for limited freedom through constitutional methods but they did not want to break the link with Britain. The republican tradition of militant separatism continued to win support amongst the people of no property but a large part of this support base was obliterated in the Great Famine of the 1840’s and through continued emigration to Britain, the USA and Australia.

There were several armed uprisings throughout the century but even though they followed inn the republican tradition of the United Irishmen they failed to attract the same degree of popular support and were easily suppressed.

With the gradual extension of the franchise it became clear in the late 19th and 20th centuries that the limited independence of “Home Rule” would have to be conceded if the stability which Britain needed in Ireland was to continue. In Ulster, where the descendants of the Planters still constituted a privileged Unionist majority in favour of the union with Britain, a pro-British and sectarian armed force called the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was formed to resist the democratic demands of the Irish people as a whole. The British refused to move against this force and senior political and military figures encouraged its development.

By the early years of the present century a clear pattern had emerged between the major political forces in Ireland, a pattern which continues to this day, with the limited demands of constitutional nationalism being strenuously opposed by Unionists and qualified by British administrations anxious to ensure that their self-interest was defended. Two events combined to shatter that pattern, for a time at least; first was the outbreak of World War in 1914 which put the issue of Home Rule on the back-burner of British political considerations, and second was the decision by Irish separatist forces including the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army to take advantage of Britain’s involvement in a global conflict and to strike a blow for freedom in the ranks of a combined force called the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

On Easter Monday 1916 the Irish Republic was declared and a Provisional Government established in arms by the IRA. After a week of fighting which was largely confined to Dublin, the superior armed power of the British succeeded in crushing the rebellion.

The subsequent executions of the Republican leaders and the imprisonment of the rank-and-file was resented by ordinary Irish people. Many who had not supported the rebellion changed their

opinions and popular support for Irish separatism grew from a tiny fringe to a mass movement.

Repression breeds resistance and, as the British vainly tried to restore stability by force and the threat of force, a strengthened Republican Movement emerged from interment camps in Britain to be greeted as heroes at home. The resurgent spirit of separatism found its political expression in support for Sinn Fein and its militant vanguard in the ranks of the IRA.

Evidence that Britain would continue to ignore the democratic will of the Irish people was provided by the general election of 1918 which saw Sinn Fein emerge with a massive majority of the

Irish seats, and more than enough to justify the establishment of an Irish Parliament, called Dail Eireann, independent of Britain. Instead of accepting the democratic decision of the electorate, the British tried to suppress Dail Eireann and jailed many of its elected members. Faced with British violence, the IRA fought a guerilla campaign between 1919 and 1921 which eventually forced Britain to the negotiating table.

The outcome of those negotiations had, to some extent, been decided by the British a year earlier with the creation of the Northern Ireland statelet. This statelet was established on the basis of a sectarian headcount which created an artificial majority comprising the privileged Unionist/pro-British population which was concentrated in that area. These were given their own devolved structure of government in return for their continued service as a strategically important British garrison.

The delegation which conducted the negotiations with the British agreed to a set of proposals contained in a Treaty. These proposals fell far short of the Republic declared in 1916 and established by the popular will of the Irish people in 1918. The Treaty established two states in Ireland, one a neo-colonial Free State still tied politically and economically to Britain but with the trappings of freedom; the other was the colonial Northern Ireland statelet.

Supported by the most reactionary elements of Irish society including the Unionists, the Catholic hierarchy and major commercial interests (none of whom had ever supported the struggle for freedom) the Treaty was forced on the Irish people under threat of “immediate and terrible war”. An emerging Free State Government which had British backing set about crushing

Republican opposition to the deal. Civil war ensued but the Republican forces which had tried desperately to avoid war were quickly defeated by the increasingly well-armed and ruthless army of the Treaty supporters.

Successive Free State governments have, since the creation of their state, claimed that the re-unification of Ireland is their primary political objective. Apart from verbalising on the issue, however, they have done nothing to achieve re-unification. On the contrary Dublin based governments have from the beginning contributed to the growth of partitionist attitudes within their own state by encouraging the development of a Catholic ethos rather than that the non-sectarian pluralism of Irish Republicanism. In this and in the declaration of a nominal Republic in 1949 they have shown that their real aim is to maintain the status-quo. This is confirmed by the efforts of those governments to undermine and defeat Republican campaigns against the Northern Ireland statelet, efforts which have included continuous emergency legislation since 1939, the use of internment and active collaboration with the British authorities including the extradition of Republican activists.

With the guarantee of British support for their position, Northern Unionists set about building their statelet on the basis of political, social and economic privileges for their own artificial majority at the expense of the equally artificial anti-Unionist minority. For nearly 50 years of unbroken Unionist rule from the Stormont parliament outside Belfast, northern Catholics were forced to endure blatant discrimination in the allocation of jobs and houses. In areas of local government administration where anti-Unionists were in an electoral majority, a system of electoral rigging known as Gerrymandering was introduced to turn those majorities into minorities.

A wide range of repressive laws which were the envy of the apartheid regime in South Africa, were enforced by vindictive and puritanical Stormomt administrations while the colonial Government in Britain (whether Conservative or Labour) simply ignored what was happening in the North of Ireland.

In every decade of Stormont rule the IRA launched military campaigns of varying intensity against the Northern state but without success. The absence of a radical political leadership within the anti-Unionist population meant that popular support for a sustained campaign of armed struggle could not be mobilised.

Following the emergence of a Civil Rights Movement for blacks in the USA in the mid-1960s, however, a similar movement grew within anti-Unionist areas of the Northern state. As this movement’s campaign of peaceful street protest gained momentum in the late 1960s, the full force of the state repression was used to crush it. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), a sectarian and paramilitary police force, and its equally sectarian reserve force, the B Specials, were deployed by the Stormont Government to beat Civil Rights’ marchers off the streets.

British troops were sent to Ireland in 1969, ostensibly to act as impartial mediators but in reality to lend support to the battle weary RUC and B Specials and to restore British control. As these troops adopted a progressively pro-Unionist stance it became increasingly clear to a growing number of anti-Unionists that the institutional injustices which had prompted the Civil Rights’ Campaign were merely symptoms of a deeper rooted injustice – the very existence of the Northern Ireland statelet. Many people concluded that peaceful and democratic methods could never radically alter the nature of the state which was established and sustained by violent and anti-democratic methods. For them it became clear that the solution lay in dismantling the state, ending British rule and re-uniting Ireland.

The IRA re-emerged, in a defensive capacity at first, following a series of pogroms which were directed against anti-Unionist areas of Belfast and other urban centres. Confronted by Unionist opposition to even the limited reforms demanded by the Civil Rights’ Movement and faced with violence by the official state forces as well as unofficial pro-British forces, the popular resistance campaign quickly evolved into a revolutionary struggle for self-determination. This revolution, which continues to this day, is fought on many levels, both political, cultural and social, and is spearheaded by the armed struggle of the IRA whose actions are directed against the clearly perceived forces of British rule and against the political and economic forces which sustain that rule.

British policy throughout this revolutionary struggle has been aimed at defeating Irish Republicanism, thereby restoring the stability which is necessary for them to re-assert effective control. Believing that this could be achieved through a strategy of counter-insurgency similar to the strategies employed in other colonies such as Cyprus, Kenya and Malaysia, the British tried to crush revolution by introducing internment and saturating towns and countryside with soldiers.

This ‘mailed fist’ approach failed to defeat the IRA but it did have the effect of ending the mass street demonstrations of the Civil Rights’ Campaign as rubber, plastic and even lead bullets were used to disperse such demonstrations. In the absence of massive street demonstrations it became increasingly difficult to quantify the level of support which the revolution enjoyed. Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Movement, had no positive electoral role as its activities were mainly confined to protest activities. Without any evidence of demonstrable popular support for Republicanism, a second phase of the British counter-insurgency campaign began. This was based on isolating and criminalising the revolution.

The RUC took over the front line role of the British army to convey the impression that the conflict was merely a political problem. Alongside this, internment and political status were phased out and a specially designed judicial and penal system was introduced to criminalise Republican activists.

The prisoners resisted criminalisation, however, and it was their heroic protest campaign between September 1976 and the Hunger Strikes of 1981 which undermined the British strategy and

mobilised national and international interest in the Irish struggle.

Against all the odds, the IRA survived the black period from the mid to the late 1970s when torture centres and special Diplock Courts were used to rail road people into jail and the media was used to implement the policy of isolating Republicans. A re-organised and increasingly politicised IRA, committed to maintaining the armed struggle as long as necessary, emerged in the 1980s.

Like the IRA, Sinn Fein learned lessons from this period, especially the need to develop an effective political strategy which would complement the armed struggle, counter further attempts to isolate Republicanism and lay the basis for the political, cultural and economic re-conquest of Ireland.

It has been the development of Sinn Fein as an electoral force throughout Ireland (presenting a radical alternative to both the colonial and neo-colonial administrations) and the continued ability of the IRA to challenge the British presence which led to the latest counter-insurgency strategy – the Hillsborough Agreement.

This strategy attempts to undermine the Republican struggle by encouraging the middle class within the anti-Unionist population to accept and support the constitutional status-quo and British repressive measures. In return the anti-Unionists were promised reforms which, it was claimed, would give them equal status in the Northern Ireland statelet.

More than a year after the Hillsborough Agreement was signed the promised reforms had still not been delivered and, far from an improvement, the anti-Unionist population had found that their situation had deteriorated. The British were still clearly unwilling to introduce even minimal reform, in the face of almost unanimous Unionist opposition to an agreement which they regarded as a threat to their privileged position.

To a large extent the Unionist campaign of opposition to the agreement had obscured the fact that the central purpose of the strategy – the defeat of Republicanism – had been totally unsuccessful. Popular support for the Republican position had not been eroded, as intended, because after 17 years of constant struggle and 800 years of similar British strategies, a growing number of Irish people recognise that there can be neither peace nor justice until Britain, the source of violence, injustice and divisions, allows the Irish people, both natives and

colonists, the right to determine their own future as equals in a united and sovereign Ireland.

“The most powerful foe of labour is capitalistic imperialism, and in Great Britain capitalistic imperialism stands or falls by the subjection or liberation of Ireland.” – Erskine Childers

For centuries the people of Ireland have fought for the right to decide their own destiny free from external interference. The history of Ireland has been largely defined by that struggle, as generation has followed generation in a never-ending wave of resistance to British imperialism.

For more than two centuries that resistance has been intrinsically linked to the establishment of an Irish Republic. And for more than a century Irish revolutionaries have understood that that republic must be socialist in nature if it is to deliver not only national but also economic and social freedom.

In the global battle against twenty-first century imperialism the only logical place for Irish progressives to channel their energies is in the building of popular support for Irish democracy and by extension, popular resistance to British rule.

By defeating British imperialism on its own doorstep the people of Ireland could contribute a devastating hammer blow against tyranny in the global struggle for freedom and justice.

The most effective way to oppose British imperialism in Ireland today is through the building a grass-roots anti-imperialist mass movement; the objective of which should be nothing short of a total British military, political and economic withdrawal from Ireland.

“They think they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think they have foreseen everything, think that they provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! – they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace”. – Padraig Pearse…

Marriage in Ireland, ed. A Cosgrove, Dublin 1985 5-24.

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Irish Holocaust– Push to Educate the Facts

Marriage in Early Ireland

Donnchadh Ó Corráin

Source: Marriage in Ireland, ed. A. Cosgrove, Dublin 1985 5-24.

There was a controversy amongst early Irish lawyers (about AD 700) as to whether monogamy or polygamy was the more proper and one clerical lawyer solved the problem by reference to the Old Testament: if the chosen of God (here he may be referring to the chosen people as a whole or merely to the Patriarchs, and the glossators of the text refer explicitly to Solomon, David and Jacob) lived in polygamy ‘it is not more difficult to condemn it than to praise it’.[1]

In the longest established of the western churches outside the Roman Empire and in a society in which christian Latin culture flourished in a remarkable way,[2] the norms of christian marriage were not, paradoxically, accepted in society generally (we shall see later that there were exceptions) throughout the middle ages. It is not unusual, of course, that the norms should not be observed: they were, after all, a counsel of perfection and elsewhere in christian Europe the laity were far from obeying the church’s rules[3]—but it is surely interesting that the christian Irish lawyers, most of whom were clerics, should appear to consider marriage within a theoretical framework different from that of the contemporary church and should frame their practical rulings accordingly. However, one should not lay too much stress on the differences between marriage in early Irish and in early continental societies: the similarities are, in practice, much more significant than the differences, and if Ireland was remarkable it was in the persistence of early medieval patterns of marital behaviour into the later middle ages and beyond.

The principal sources for the history of marriage in early Ireland are the law tracts in Irish and Latin, all the most important of which were probably written up within half a century of AD 700.[4] In some respects, the materials are rich—in many instances they provide us with an account of what was done rather than what ought to be done—but they are difficult to interpret. In other respects, they are very limited, for we have no marriage charters and no records of marital cases before the Anglo-Norman period. Records of church legislation about marriage dry up in the eighth century and do not begin again until the twelfth (when the great reform, or rather revolution, in church and society was undertaken). Much of what is said here must, therefore, be tentative.

Lawyers writing in Irish divide first and principal marriages into three categories:

(1) lánamnas comthinchuir, ‘marriage of common contribution’, marriage in which, apparently, both parties contribute equally to the common pool of marital property;

(2) lánamnas for ferthinchur, ‘marriage on man-contribution’, an arrangement by which the bulk of the marriage goods are contributed by the man; and

(3) lánamnas for bantinchur, ‘marriage on woman contribution’, marriage to which the woman brings the preponderance of the property.

All three main types of marriage are considered by the lawyers as special contractual relationships between the spouses in regard to property, which are similar in some important respects to that of a lord and his vassal, a father and his daughter, a student and his teacher, an abbot and his lay-tenant—other pairs that hold property in common and, on occasion at least, run a common household. What each of the pair may have given the other, consumed, or spent in good faith cannot give rise to a legal action; what has been taken without permission must be replaced if a complaint is made about it; and legal penalties are involved only when the complaint (and the appropriate legal procedure which must follow it) is ignored or when property is removed by theft or by violence.

The threefold categorisation, which refers to main marriages only, is not quite satisfactory because it runs together institutions which were really separate, but it does bring out that about AD 700, when the principal tract on marriage was written. Lánamnas comthinchuir, which the tract places first and treats in greatest detail, was regarded as the most important or perhaps the normal type of principal marriage amongst commoners of property (and aristocrats) and had been for some considerable time.[5]

It was a dignified state for the wife in question: if it was a marriage ‘with land and stock and household equipment and if the wife was of the same class and status as her husband, she was known as a bé cuitchernsa, literally ‘a woman of joint dominion, a woman of equal lordship’—a term which seems to be rendered domina in the canon law tracts. Neither of the spouses could make a valid contract at law without the consent of the other. The lawyers list exceptions to this rule but, apart from the specification that these must be dealings which advance their common economy, they are mere run-of the-mill matters in the ordinary business of farming—agreements for co-operative ploughing with kinsmen, hiring land (presumably for grazing), getting together the food and drink to meet the duty of entertaining one’s lord or to celebrate church feasts, acquiring necessary tools or equipment and the like—and one would expect either spouse to make such arrangements without necessarily consulting the other.

Not so the more important contracts, such as those which involve the alienation of property. In Irish law there is really no conjugal fund or common property in marriage: each partner retains ultimate private ownership of what he/she brought into the marriage, though it may be pooled for the purpose of running a common household. (And each may have personal property besides.) This is particularly stressed in the general provision that every dealing in property must be carried out conscientiously and without neglect of the interests of the other partner. One particular rule stated that both partners must acknowledge that any object acquired is not common property but the private possession of the partner whose property was alienated to acquire it. Anything essential to the common economy of the spouses may not be sold without consultation and common agreement and, more generally, each partner may dissolve the disadvantageous contracts entered into by the other. The partners have greater freedom in the disposition of their personal private property: they may, independently of each other, sell or lend it up to the amount of their honour-price—and here the wife is less free than the husband for the honour-price of the wife is usually half that of her husband.

The same preoccupations with property recur in the pro visions regarding divorce. The Irish lawyers (and most of them were clerics) do not moralise about it but rather set to the task of working out an equitable division of the assets between the partners. Since each partner receives back what he/she has contributed in the first instance, the rules concerning division apply only to profits earned and acquisitions made while the marriage contract was in force. In this connection the lawyers hit upon the handy notion of a threefold division between tír, urgnam, cethra ’and, labour and capital (livestock)’ and, in the first instance, divided the profits equally between the spouses in the proportion to which each of them may have supplied these factors of production. The thirds assigned to land and capital are distributed regardless of the conduct of the spouses; but in the case of a divorce in which one partner is innocent and the other guilty, the labour third falls to the innocent party. In this sense, labour may mean either the direct labour of the spouse or the provision of hired labour by meeting the expenses of wages and maintenance of servants out of his/her own resources.[6] These principles are, of course, applied to the division of the principal form of mobile wealth usually possessed by the couple—cattle and other livestock. And they are applied with certain modifications to other assets.

In the division of consumables—dairy products, cured meats, corn and textiles—an additional principle is applied by the lawyers: added value. Here the best example, perhaps, is that of textiles. The woman takes half of all clothing and woven cloth, a third of wool ready and combed for spinning, a sixth of fleeces and sheaves of flax. Textile production is labour intensive and the value of the product is the result of the work done rather than the original worth of the raw materials. The woman’s share on divorce reflects this. Indeed, a commentator on the tract states that land is not taken into account in the case of flax and woad because these take up so little ground and because they require so much labour and are so valuable.[7]

The division of dairy products (no doubt salted butter and cheese) is quite complicated the labour third is divided in two portions and the woman (who, of course, has run the dairy) takes one; of the remainder (i.e. one-sixth of the whole) diminishing fractions go to the spouse who supplied the dairy vessels (a matter of considerable importance, for dairy vessels were expensive artifacts produced by highly skilled craftsmen), the husband, and the spouse who provided the dairy workers.[8] Similar principles govern the division of corn in store and cured meat. The legal tracts incidentally provide first class evidence of the importance of the woman’s role (as manager and worker) in the rural economy—in dairying, in the production of woollen and linen garments, in caring for farmyard animals (especially the fattening of stall-fed beasts for the table) and in organising the ploughing and reaping of corn (and, no doubt, the feeding of the labourers).

Lánamnas for ferthinchur ‘marriage on the man’s contribution’, represents a different kind of property and contractual arrangement and, in some significant ways, is a different kind of marriage partnership, particularly since in Irish law much of the standing of the partners depended on their property relationship. Here the man provides the bulk of the conjugal property—land, housing and stock—and the woman provides little or nothing. In this instance, if the wife is a lawfully betrothed wife but not a cétmuinter (first or principal wife), contracts made by the husband are valid, whether or not his wife knows or consents, but he may not alienate food or clothing, cows or sheep without her consent. What is in question here is the necessities of life and the means of their continued production, and to this degree the interests of this kind of wife are protected. If, however, she is a lawful cétmuinter and a woman of equal standing and birth, she may impugn all her husband’s foolish contracts and have them dissolved on her behalf by her sureties (for which see below).

On the occasion of divorce, such a woman is considerably worse off than the previous kind of wife. Since she provided neither land nor stock, she must take a much diminished share of the assets acquired whilst the marriage lasted: she takes half of her own handiwork and one-sixth of the dairy produce in store. If she has been a hard worker (márdéntaid), she takes one-ninth of the cattle dropped whilst the marriage contract was in force and one-ninth of the corn and cured meat in store. These portions belong to the ‘labour third’ of the assets and the implication is that if she were the guilty party, she received very little indeed on parting. Since, apart from this labour third, she is practically without means, the lawyers specify that she is to receive a sack of corn each month from the date of parting to the next Mayday—the time when new contracts, including marriage contracts, were made and the assumption is that she should re-marry as soon as possible.[9]

Lánamnas for bantinchur ‘marriage on the woman’s contribution’, represents the third type of property arrangement in marriage. In this case, the woman inherits an estate in default of sons and marries a man of little or no property. Here there is role reversal: ‘in this case the man goes in the track of the woman and the woman in the track of the man’. If the man is what the lawyers call ‘a man of service, a head of counsel who checks the home-folk with advice as influential as that of his wife’—a man, therefore, who plays an active role in the management of his wife’s estate—he obtains some recompense on the occasion of a divorce: he receives a ninth of the handiwork and of the corn and cured meat in store and one-eighteenth of the dairy produce. Again, if either of the partners is guilty, the innocent one takes the ‘labour’ portion. If it is a first or principal marriage, all the profits which are not to be assigned to land or capital fall to the innocent party. Apart from that, what each brought to the marriage, each takes away. If the woman owns all the property, the standing of the husband in society is estimated in terms of his wife’s status (enech ‘honour’), unless he is more venerable, better bred or more honourable than she’.[10]http://www.ucc.ie/celt/marriage_ei.html

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Francy Dumont

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Irish Holocaust- Push to Educate the Facts

The three categories of marriage described so far are based on property; there were others (as we shall see) but it may be useful to consider these in more detail.

The marriage of the woman of property to a man of less, or in extreme cases, no property is what occurs in a patrilineal society such as that of the early Irish—a society in which estates, offices and ritual roles pass from male to male, ideally from father to son—when a man has no surviving sons to inherit his property. This happens in about one in five of all cases (the percentage may be somewhat lower in polygynous societies, at least among the nobility who had more access to women) and was not, therefore, a rare occurrence.[11] The daughter (or daughters, and in this instance the estate was divided between them)[12] was called a banchomarba ’an heiress’; she inherited a life-interest in her father’s estate, she had to get guarantors that she would not alienate it wrongfully and, on her death, it reverted to her father’s nearest male relatives (to males within her gelfhine or, in default of these, to males within her derbfhine). She could not transmit any rights to the estate to her children. A compromise was however possible: she could marry one of the ultimate heirs and preserve an interest for her children, and this appears to be the ancient solution to the problem. This entailed parallel cousin marriage, that she should marry her first cousin or, perhaps less frequently, her second cousin—but such endogamous marriages were forbidden by church law and denounced as incestuous.

The Irish lawyers searched the scriptures and found their answer in the Old Testament. Jewish law, as preserved in Leviticus, forbade marriage with the following relatives: sister, mother, mother’s sister, father’s sister, son’s daughter and daughter’s daughter. This leaves the way open for parallel cousin marriage but they went further and cited cases from Old Testament history which proved that the law of God allowed such marriages. In particular, they cited the case of the daughters of Salphaad. Their father died without sons and they demanded an inheritance of land amongst their kin, but the elders objected on the grounds that they would marry outsiders and alienate family land. They approached Moses who consulted God who, in turn, judged their claim to be valid provided they married men of their own tribe. The record of their marriages preserved in the same book of the Old Testament shows that they married the sons of their father’s brothers. Here was explicit biblical justification of parallel cousin marriage and divine sanction for marriages contracted with close relatives for reasons of property. The lawyers found further support in the story of Tobias (who married his father’s brother’s daughter) for the legal opinion that ‘all the property of a man who has no son should be given after his death to the husband of his daughter if he is of the same kindred’.[13] Lánamnas for bantinchur is not, then, simply an Indo-European custom which finds its closest comparison in the Greek epikleros and the Indian putrika ‘appointed daughter’ (as some would argue), but a strategy of heirship in which the needs of the kindred and the demands of the church are neatly balanced. It is important to note, too, that this kind of marriage is not necessarily a first or principal marriage: it can be a secondary union, and is perhaps a pointer to the possible independent behaviour—for pleasure or procreation—of propertied women in early Ireland.

It is likely, of course, that men marrying heiresses amongst their own kindred possessed some property; but, where there was competition for land amongst males inheriting a family estate (and such competition involved status as well as property),[14] it is reasonable to assume that the usufruct and prospect of possession (at least as far as his heirs were concerned) acquired by a member of the family who married an inheriting kinswoman were taken into account in the division of the paternal estate, and his share diminished accordingly. This would have given rise to a situation where men were heavily dependent on their heiress-wives, but the same circumstances could come about otherwise. A woman could acquire land ar dúthracht, by outright gift of her father of land which was his personal (as distinct from) family possession, and women could also possess land which is called orba cruib 7 shliasta ‘land of hand and thigh’. It is possible (though quite uncertain) that two kinds of land are in question here: land acquired by the woman’s own labour and land got as a marriage portion or for some other sexual service, but the precise meaning of the term is not clear from the contexts.[15] Further, it is evident from the canon law that, in certain circumstances, a father could be obliged to give his daughter an estate in land amongst her brothers—at least where there was parallel cousin marriage.[16] And it is perhaps worth remembering that, while Irish society was strongly patrilineal in ideology, such social ideologies are usually modified by individual needs and pressures.

The general opinion is that lánamnas comthinchuir was the normal kind of marriage between persons of property in the seventh and eighth centuries. But how old was that institution? Caesar’s brief account of marriage amongst the Gauls appears to refer to two important characteristics which are present in the Irish type: men match the herds which their wives bring as dowries by contributing an equal amount from their own property, and an account is kept of the profits of these conjoint resources (suggesting that each reserved ultimate ownership of what was contributed to the marital fund).[17] If this type of marriage is a common Celtic institution, we may have here a hint as to the meaning of comthinchor ‘common contribution’ that the wife brought a dowry (dos) in herds and that the husband matched that dowry with a payment to his wife of an equal amount from his own resources (donatio ex marito).[18] One need not, of course, assume that such dowries were always in cattle: we have seen that women could acquire real estate and other kinds of property and the glossators, whatever the value of their opinions on this point, note that land could form part of their marital contribution The equality of husband and wife is matched elsewhere and scholars have argued that the Indo-European peoples had always known a variety of marriage which left the wife her husband’s equal partner—and one could compare the Roman marriage without manus and the Germanic marriage in which the husband did not acquire his wife’s mundium.[19]

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