Talk:Gaelic Ireland

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I've made some changes as well as marking a number of places where more references/information is needed. In many cases I plan to come back when I have had a chance to find citations for material. The section on religion needs changed as it misunderstands the nature of the early medieval papacy (which did not control all of Europe) and also ignores that the Irish church did occasionally follow continental procedure. Buirechain 02:53, 23 October 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Buirechain (talkcontribs)

Arms etc.[edit]

Sorry to say that Gaelic Ireland didn't use arms in the heraldic sense. The blue ground with a golden harp was a Norman or Tudor creation (and very nice). The College of Heralds was set up in the 1550s by Queen Mary. Our arms were our surnames. The history is interesting enough without indulging in wishful thinking.Red Hurley (talk) 11:56, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. After the Norman invasion, land in Ireland was controlled either by Norman lords or by Gaelic chieftains. The Norman land was unified as one state (the Lordship of Ireland) while the Gaelic land was a patchwork of territories controlled by clans. These clans weren't united or represented by some "official coat of arms". The harp-on-blue-background was indeed created during Henry VIII's reign. ~Asarlaí 04:44, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Anarchist community[edit]

I added Category:Anarchist communities to this article, because it is often cited as one. I am aware this may be controversial, so I have set up this discussion in advance. Zazaban (talk) 20:19, 17 December 2008 (UTC)


User:Superfopp maintains that Gaelic Ireland was a patchwork culture. I strongly object to that description of Gaelic culture in the intro. Tfz 17:53, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

The article mentions nothing about Gaelic Ireland being a "patchwork culture" (whatever that means). There was a single culture (Gaelic) but the island was divided into a patchwork of clan territories and kingdoms (túatha). ~Asarlaí 18:06, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
"Patchwork" is a ludicrous description of Ireland. Yes it had its ancient divisions, like many another country had, why not describe them as that. Tfz 19:02, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
I wasn't the one who introduced "patchwork", but since the túatha were ever-changing it seemed appropriate. If it's such a problem I'll change it. ~Asarlaí 20:59, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
Ireland had a very strong unifying culture but "patchwork" is a *very* common metaphor for the political situation. The current copy is a good way to describe it ("patchwork of túatha"). A quick search of Google books will throw up loads of refs for "patchwork" in relation to the political situation. E.g.:
"After a period of relative quiet, Ireland was again invaded in the twelfth century. This time it was King Henry II and his Anglo-Norman barons from the neighboring island of Britain. The Ireland the found was still a regionalized patchwork of petty kingdoms. Henry set about consolidating the array of separate kingdoms into one kingdom, setting up a governing administration and instituting laws of a feudal society that rested on a hierarchy of authority under his kingship." - Patrick A. Lavin, Celtic Ireland West of the River Shannon
"In 1023 Donnchad had his half-brother assassinated. He fought his way back to power in Munster, but that was as far as he could go. Brian's kingship of all Ireland has long since ended. He has not created a united kingdom of Ireland. Nor has he brought the Irish people together to fight the Viking outsiders. (Although in later centuries Irishmen came to believe that this is what he had done, and made Brian a national hero). In earlier centuries a few equally successfully Irish kinds has claimed, just as Brian did, to be 'high king'. But none had tried to destroy the other kingdoms, and after their death the old patter of many kingdoms had returned. After Brian's death in 1014 this happened once more. The map of eleventh-century Ireland remained a complicated patchwork quilt of scores of kingdoms. Like the Welsh, the Irish were united by language, law and culture, not by politics." - Mike Corbishley, Kenneth O Morgan, The young Oxford history of Britain & Ireland
"When John succeeded to the throne in 1199, the lordship of Ireland was annexed to the kingdom of England. His policy was three-fold: to reduce the power of the older baronage in Ireland; to favour the Irish chiefs for policy's sake; and to build up a central government strong enough to override both. But this ambitious scheme failed to live up to expectations, and in the late thirteenth century the lordship of Ireland was 'less a lordship then a patchwork of lordships'." - David George Boyce, Nationalism in Ireland
Loads more, just typed out three. I've added them in. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 19:04, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Maybe change the word "patchwork" to "tartan"? : D Seamusalba (talk) 14:43, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Merger of Early history of Ireland and Gaelic Ireland[edit]

(Cross posted form User talk:Fergananim.)

It has been proposed to merge this article and Early history of Ireland. I'd be against the merger for a number of reasons. From the off-set, I should say that I dislike the term "Early history of Ireland" as a title of an article - "early" to the history of what with respect to Ireland: geology, settlement, written history, native written history, native written history in Latin script, what was the early history of Ireland from the perspective of early writers of Irish history in Latin script, as an independent state? That aside, the the Gaelic period covers a specific topic (i.e. Gaelic civilisation) rather than a period in the history of Ireland. Regardless of what one means by the term "Early Irish history", the two don't coincide either in period or substance.

In terms of the boarder encyclopedia, I'd favour keeping a "Gaelic Ireland" article too from the perspective of the series of articles dealing with Irish states: Lordship of Ireland, Kingdom of Ireland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Northern Ireland (United Kingdom), Irish Free State, Ireland. That series IMHO would lack historicity if it the Gaelic political order was absent from it. --RA (talk) 00:37, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

What you've just said made me realise (again) that we really need more than just a Gaelic Ireland article, we need ones who can stand along the above. Can something be done to ally all the major Irish kingdoms - Ulaid, Connacht, Laighin, Mumhan, and Mide. You can also thrown in Airgialla, Osraighe, Desmond and Ui Maine as important sub-kingdoms. My point being, we know a great deal about Viking, Norman, English, and modern Irish states, but sfa about the Gaelic ones. They need attention. So, any thoughts? Fergananim (talk) 01:08, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Proper articles about the Irish kingdoms would be awesome, but it would be a huge undertaking, for a number of reasons. Although modern historians have focussed far more on Gaelic Ireland than previously, there has still been relatively little written on individual kingdoms (or tuaithí or earldoms, as they would become), as opposed to the kings (lords, earls) and the wars between them, or between them and the English. There is a dearth of primary sources because the Irish didn't write every transaction down as the English did, so a lot has to be gleaned from archaeology or bardic poetry. Additionally, the political landscape was far more complex than simply the five cúigí and a few important subkingdoms. It looked more like this. The Ulaid, for instance, were relatively unimportant for most of the medieval period. The major players in "Ulster" were the Northern Uí Néill, who don't even have an article on English Wikipedia (they have a decent section on French Wikipedia). It's definitely worth having a go, and I'll put it on my growing list of things I'd love to write about if I had a lot of time over the summer. Scolaire (talk) 08:19, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Would like to restate what Scolaire said: that would be awesome. I started this article with the intention of re-addressing that imbalance. I'm finally making my way through Norman Davies, The Isles. In fairness to him, he makes all the rights sounds about giving a balanced history of all of these islands but still from 1066 to 1607 it's as if the mass of Ireland is just hanging around waiting for its next call to the stage in the history of how England became independent from France. Like Scolaire says, this isn't all his own fault, though I would suggest that there is a death of primary sources not because of the failings of the medieval Irish but to the actions of modern ones.
A particular editor (in fairness to him) has done some work on the Norman-era petty kingdoms, though I have great misgivings about his treatment of them. For instance his insistence that, for example, the arms of the MacCarthy family were the flag of the "Kingdom (sic) of Desmond" and for adding these articles to the category Category:Former countries in Europe. None the less, at least its a start.
I'll pull out Gaelic and Gaelicized Ireland and see what I can pull from it. A list might be a good place to start? --RA (talk) 12:04, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
I think you'll find that the documents that were lost in the Four Courts explosion were all English. The Dublin administration of any era had no interest in the doings of the Gaels, unless they were making war. Scolaire (talk) 07:28, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose merger, since this article covers not only "Early History of Ireland" but the Medieval, Late Medieval and Early Modern periods as well. Per RA, this article is not a narrative history but a discussion of Gaelic civilisation, and therefore needs to remain as a standalone article. Scolaire (talk) 07:54, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose merger per Scolaire/RA. Early History of Ireland certainly needs some significant fixing, and would benefit from adding some of the content from this article - some overlap between these articles (and between this article and other Irish history articles) is natural however. Finn Rindahl (talk) 17:24, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

It is pointless to say "oppose" unless you "support" an alternative solution at the same time. It may indeed not be the best approach to just merge this into "Early History of Ireland", but what solution do you propose instead? It is clear that the article cannot remain as it is. It is, in effect, an article on the "Medieval, Late Medieval and Early Modern history of Ireland". I hope it is clear that this will not do. Perhaps the proper merge target is just history of Ireland then? Inasmuch as this aricle is supposed to be a "discussion of Gaelic civilisation", it should be that above the table. That aspect belongs merged into Gaels. --dab (𒁳) 10:30, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

By opposing merger I am supporting that this article can remain as it is - it is not clear to me at all that that is not the case. This article is intended (I believe) to give an overview of the particulars of Gaelic society on the island of Ireland through several different historical periods. Obviously there will be an overlap between the articles of these periods, as well as with articles such as Gaels and Celtic Christianity - I don't really see a problem with that. Finn Rindahl (talk) 12:09, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
"It is clear that the article cannot remain as it is." It is clear to the rest of us that the article can, should and must remain as it is. Gaelic Ireland is a recognised topic in Irish history. I'm curious why you think you have any kind of authority to say "this will not do"? Scolaire (talk) 13:13, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose merger with any articles, for the reasons stated by Scolaire and RA. Although it spans a few periods of Irish history, it only deals with one topic. Merging with Gaels would also be wrong because that article is an overview of the similar yet different Gaelic cultures of the Irish, Scottish, Manx and Norse-Gaels. ~Asarlaí 11:21, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

um, because "Gaelic Ireland", as User:Scolaire points out, equals "Medieval, Late Medieval and Early Modern history of Ireland". We already have articles covering that. {{duplication}}. I am happy that Scolaire is "curious" as to my rationale, but he seems to discount the possibility that I am not basing it on "authority" but rather on the merit of the point I am making.

What you have here is, in effect, an article "Ireland 400–1607". This on top of the articles Ireland 400–800  Ireland 800–1169, Ireland 800–1169 and Ireland 1536–1691. I am not saying that "Gaelic Ireland" isn't a valid term. But it isn't a valid article topic, because the topic has already been divided among four other articles. It can at best be a disambiguation page, because the relevant WP:SS article also exists, at history of Ireland. --dab (𒁳) 16:19, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for elaborating and making your point clearer - I'm afraid I still do not agree with you though. "Gaelic Ireland", just like Norman Ireland or for that matter Norse Ireland are IMO valid article topics - as long as there is a clearly defined scope in the article(s) of describing this particular aspect of Irish society/politics. That would for Gaelic span over several (or all?) of the chronological divisions of Irish history. As I see it, the problem here is more that the scope isn't that clearly defined yet (see my comment below), as well as that the chronologically divided articles linked by Dbachmann above are still in rather poor shape. Finn Rindahl (talk) 17:01, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Dbachmann, are you suggesting we merge five articles into one and have it cover a 1,200 year period? Do you realise how long that article would be? This article focuses on the culture and political structure of Gaelic Ireland. The other four are narratives/timelines of distinct periods of Ireland's history that happened before, during, and after the Gaelic period. Much more still needs to be added to them.
This article means that information doesn't need to be duplicated. If it didn't exist we'd have to write about the culture and political structure in those four periods, even though it didn't change much. Instead we can just put a link to this article.
~Asarlaí 17:09, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
'It is pointless to say "oppose" unless you "support" an alternative solution at the same time.' This presumes that there is a problem that needs a solution. There really isn't. If there was then the 'problem' would be the subject matter itself. The various political orders in Irish history did (or 'do') not have neat narrative histories with clean book end dates. The Gaelic order overlaps with the Norman order by a several centuries (it can at least be said to exist until 1607, whereas Norman Ireland begins in 1169). It spanned the entirety of Viking Ireland. When Norman Ireland became the English order, or if the English order was something new again, alien to both "Old English" and Gael, is an unknown but it did. At some time the English order became 'British' and even today there are two political orders in Ireland.
Combining all of these subjects into one, or spanning them across several narrative articles, would leave no article dealing with any of them. Clearly a reader wanting to know about the Gaelic order in Ireland does not want to have to trawl through a narrative involving Viking, Norman and English orders to glean bits and pieces here and there. Narrative history has its place - but it should not be forced where it does not belong. --RA (talk) 18:23, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

I think we can consider this discussion closed. I'll leave it to others to decide if you want to put templates at the top and bottom, but I'm going to remove the tag from the article page. Scolaire (talk) 08:28, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

Scope of this article[edit]

Qouting from the (current [1] )lead :"Gaelic Ireland is the name given to the period when a Gaelic political order existed in Ireland. The order continued to exist after the arrival of the Anglo-Normans (1169 AD) until about 1607 AD."

First of all, name given by whom? Is it unambiguous than the term "Gaelic Ireland" refers to a period of Gaelic political order? - I would expect that the term also has been/is used for Gaeltacht/Gaelic culture in Ireland.

Secondly, even with the narow definition of political order - is it correct to say that no such order remained after the flight of the Earls? I don't know much about modern Irish history, but looking to Scotland the Highland Clearances for instance was in part caused by a modern economical/political order replacing the old clann/Gaelic order in the relationship between landowners and tennants. I think at least a section discussing the traces of the "Gaelic order" in Ireland in modern times would be relevant here. Anyway, I'm just asking - I don't know much about Ireland after 1200 or so... Finn Rindahl (talk) 13:50, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

I imagine that "Gaelic Ireland" is a term used very loosely, essentially meaning "anything that has to do with Gaels and with Ireland". Its intended meaning will heavily depend on the context in which it is used.
Here, for example, the term clearly means "Gaeltacht" and not "pre-1607 history of Ireland".
This is worth studying, but the result of such a study would be more at home at wikt:Gaelic Ireland than here. It would be best to make this title a disambiguation page, to various items of Irish history and Gaelic culture. --dab (𒁳) 16:22, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
@Finnrind, I think the opener ("Gaelic Ireland is the name...") is incorrect for the reasons you state: who gave it this name? Better something like, "The Gaelic period in Ireland lasted from prehistory until the seventeenth century..." With respect to your other comments:
  • "Is it unambiguous than the term 'Gaelic Ireland' refers to a period of Gaelic political order?" To the same extent that, say, Norman Ireland can be said to refer to the period (and place) of the Norman order. Or Anglo-Saxon England. The opening lines does not however say that 'Gaelic Ireland' refers to "a period of Gaelic political order". It says, "the period when a Gaelic political order existed in Ireland."
  • " it correct to say that no such order remained after the flight of the Earls?" Not entirely. The bardic schools existed for several decades more, the language for much longer, and even the political order itself did not come to a full stop with the exit of the Earls. The Anglicisation of the Gaelic chieftains had been (to various degrees of success) been ongoing for half a century before 1607. The Battle of Kinsale (and the subsequent flight of the northern earls) is just taken as the last act of the Gaelic order after which the English order can be said to be preeminent.
  • With respect to Scotland, the fall of the Gaelic orders in Ireland and Scotland took very different paths (and indeed were different at their height). The fall of the Gaelic order in Ireland is not comparable to the clearances in Scotland and was far more dramatic in its crashing end rather than a long (seemingly inevitable) process.
@dab, that's one book written in the 1870s. Every other book from the same search uses it in the sense we mean here. --RA (talk) 19:11, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • OK, the rewording you suggested takes care of my main concern, but then brings forward the other: about when a "Gaelic order" existed "Gaelic order" is a somewhat vague term (IMO), and existed is to absolute. How about something like ""The Gaelic period in Ireland lasted from prehistory until the seventeenth century. The Gaelic order of the society remained preeminent despite the Viking raids and settlements from the ninth century on, and continued to be important after the arrival of the Anglo-Normans (1169 AD) until about 1607 AD." Anyway, thanks for taking the time to answer my comments - I see that the comparison with Scotland may not be very relevant here. Finn Rindahl (talk) 21:59, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
my concern isn't that the term "Gaelic Ireland" doesn't exist. It does. My concern is WP:CFORK. --dab (𒁳) 15:02, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
re this, please explain how this would be a problem? This article idly duplicates the scope of others. "the more articles the better" is a popular misconception on Wikipedia. It is important to have only one article per topic and make that as good as possible. --dab (𒁳) 10:38, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
The article doesn't "idly" do anything. A number of editors (not including me) have gone to a lot of trouble to make this a decent article. "Butcher articles to improve the project" is a misconception, and not even a popular one. The problems with your edit are (a) that there was no prior discussion and (b) you already knew from the above discussion that it is against consensus. Scolaire (talk) 12:07, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Dbachmann (dab) has started re-adding tags to this article over the past few days, suggesting it be split into "Gaelic culture" and "Medieval Ireland". In the above discussion it seemed most editors were against splitting. Could we get some input?
Thanks. ~Asarlaí 17:55, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Presently, the article consists of two large parts, one duplicating Gaelic culture, the other duplicating History of Ireland (800–1169) and History of Ireland (1169–1536).
The political composition of Gaelic Ireland is discussed at Gaelic kingdoms of Ireland. This article consequently has no scope of its own, it is just an idiosyncratic conflation of the scopes of other articles.
I could imagine a valid article called "Gaelic Ireland", but this is not it. Instead of trying to hush up this problem by revert warring, it would be nice if people were trying to help in solving this problem.
It is pointless to subsume the History of Ireland from 400 to 1500 under a single topic of "Gaelic Ireland", when there are already dedicated articles to sub-periods of that time.
The only way I can envisage how this article may make sense would be in dedicating it to the Gaelic parts of Ireland during 1169 to 1541, i.e. a sub-article to History of Ireland (1169–1536) complementary to Lordship of Ireland (the political entity not under Gaelic rule during that period). Alternatively, it could discuss the resurgence of Gaelic rule during 1300 to 1500, which is what most people will assume "Gaelic Ireland" means anyway. Conflating this period (the late medieval Gaelic chiefdoms) with a fantastic notion of "Gaeldom" spanning 2,000 years is silly ethnic essentialism. Gaelic Ireland of 1450 had more to do with any other Christian European state of 1450 than with the Iron Age proto-Gaels of 500 BC.
I have no fixed opinion of what to do with this article. It may be best to just split or delete it, but maybe it can be salvaged. What is certainly not going to help is trying to pretend there isn't a problem with it. --dab (𒁳) 17:37, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
What are you talking about? Gaelic culture redirects to Gaels, and I can see no duplication whatsoever between that and this, as the articles currently are. In fact that title might as well redirect here instead. The article in fact claims to cover the whole period from some unspecified date BC to 1607, which may well be over-ambitious, though it is less inaccurate to generalize over the whole of that period for Ireland than most places in Europe. A clearly stated start date around the 6th century would be better. The article has no chronological narrative & does not duplicate any of that sort of history article. The case that even a 1,000 year period is too much to cover in this way needs to be made; certainly the article should include stuff on changes within the period. Johnbod (talk) 21:11, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

RFC: Irish history series[edit]

I have opened a discussion on a reorganisation of the series of articles dealing with Irish history at Talk:History of Ireland#RFC: Irish history series. --RA (talk) 23:07, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Women and children[edit]

The sentence, "However, laws influenced by the church would later disadvantage women" in this section was removed with the edit summary "obvious POV". This was reverted with the edit summary "not POV, but needs a citation". Whether it's POV or not would depend on your point of view, I suppose, but I agree with its removal because it is out of place in this paragraph. The section as currently written obviously deals with Gaelic society before the Church reforms of the twelfth century. Any discussion of the status of women in late medieval Gaelic Ireland should be in a separate paragraph, which should not be added unless and until it can be referenced. Scolaire (talk) 10:21, 23 July 2010 (UTC)


As far as I can see, the duplication issue revolves around two sections:

  1. Gaelic culture: there is a huge amount of duplication with Gaels here. I don't know which article was the original and which the copy, but I believe that this article is the more appropriate place to have it. The corresponding section in Gaels could be edited down to 10-20% of its current size, with a {{main}} pointing to here, since the scope of the Gaels article is much broader.
  2. History: I can't see any duplication of text here with any other article. If there is, I'd like to see it spelled out. The section, for the most part, is specifically a history of the Gaels in Ireland in the period 1166-1607. As such, it might benefit from a change in section heading. The fairly lengthy sub-section on Laudabiliter, Diarmait Mac Murchada etc. is not needed, and could be summarised in a short sentence: "Normans began to arrive in Ireland in 1167." Otherwise, I don't see a problem.

Scolaire (talk) 12:41, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

This article appears to cover the history of Ireland, 12th to 16th centuries.
There are other articles that cover the history of Ireland, 12th to 16th centuries:
This will not do at all. To keep History of Ireland 1169–1536 separate from Lordship of Ireland is a bit like creating History of Switzerland (400-900) on top of Alemannia.
Creating yet another article on the same period, Gaelic Ireland (as opposed to Gaeltacht) is like creating Germanic Switzerland (as opposed to German-speaking Switzerland on top of Alemannia and History of Switzerland (400-900).
This is a classic case of scope duplication if I have ever seen one.
Now, there is the option of WP:SS. This means that a topic that significantly overlaps with another topic but has an angle unique to itself can give a brief summary of that other topic with a {{main}} link.
For the purposes of this article, if it is established that "Gaelic Ireland" has a body of literature that goes beyond "Medieval Ireland" and "Gaelic culture", there can be a brief "History" section within WP:SS. So far, such a case has not been made and this article is basically our Medieval Ireland article.
I hope you now understand that this is not and has never been about the verbatim duplication of text, but about a violation of the rule that Wikipedia cannot have two articles about the same topic. Perhaps we can then move into the stage of looking for solutions. --dab (𒁳) 13:21, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
First of all, I would prefer if we could discuss this on an adult to adult basis; this would mean losing "parent" expressions such as "This will not do at all", "if it is established...there can be..." and "I hope you now understand..."
You have asked me to read WP:CFORK. I have. Here is a direct quote:
  • Articles on distinct but related topics may well contain a significant amount of information in common with one another. This does not make either of the two articles a content fork. As an example, clearly Joséphine de Beauharnais will contain a significant amount of information also in Napoleon I of France; this does not make it a fork.
  • Further, in encyclopedias it is perfectly proper to have separate articles for each different definition of a term; unlike dictionaries, a single encyclopedia article covers a topic, not a term.
Duplication of text is a serious problem. Overlap of scope not only is not a problem, but is encouraged. It's what Wikipedia is about. There is no "violation of the rule" here. Scolaire (talk) 13:54, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
There is no doubt you are correct about duplicated content, but as far as I can see Gaelic Ireland is a necessary article for that part of Ireland not settled/controlled by the English in the period between the Angevin conquest and some time in the early modern period (though it is problematic to define, as half the island's aristos were both Gaelic AND English for most of the period concerned ). This is what the term used like this tends to mean.
Incidentally, as a further comparison, there is an article on the Early history of Switzerland and separate articles for the Duchy of Swabia and Alamannia (compare treatment of Duchy of Bavaria/Bavaria). Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 13:47, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Unitary kingdom[edit]

This edit did, as the edit summary says, remove unsourced statements, but it has taken out some kinda important content. There was a trend, from at least Brian Boru onwards, towards unification of the country under a single king, and it was a small number of families - Ua Briain, Mac Lochlainn, Ua Conchobair - who contended for the kingship. It shouldn't be difficult to source those statements. Scolaire (talk) 17:41, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

I agree with you. Actually we need a separate section for the royalty and nobility. I have read that the current practice in Ireland is to pretend most of them never existed. DinDraithou (talk) 19:10, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
I will try to source and reinsert the part of the paragraph that was removed, I just got to remember in which pile I have put my copy of Byrne... Finn Rindahl (talk) 20:16, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
Put something back (slightly rewritten) to sort of qualify the description the tuahta. The trend towards unification (and the construction of a pseudehistory of an ancient unified kingdom) did indeed grow from BB as Scolaire points out, and the leading families from that period remained influental until 1600 or so. I'm not sure however if this section is the right place to add that info - is this really about Gaelic "Culture and society"...? Finn Rindahl (talk) 16:38, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Well, the paragraph begins by saying that Ireland was not a unified kingdom "in the feudal sense", and this used to be qualified by saying it was moving that way at the time of the Norman Invasion. I would like to see that qualification go back in, as well as the information that the head of any of those three families (or a Mac Murchadha for that matter) might have been the person to create a unitary kingdom if the Invasion hadn't happened. Scolaire (talk) 17:29, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

Info deleted from the Gaels and Scoti articles[edit]

Some sections from the above-mentioned articles have been (sensibly) deleted because almost identical with parts of this article, so I've just transmitted to this article some of the sourced information that was lost in the process (mainly regarding details of Brehon law). Hope it fits in smoothly. Thanks, Ben Dawid (talk) 03:53, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

Some of what you've re-added is fine (because it's reliably sourced) but there are two lines that'll have to be removed:
  • "Irish Brehon law excepted women from the ordinary course of the law, and in general, every woman had to have a male guardian" — the source given for this is The Brehon Laws but I've been unable to find any mention of it there.
  • "tribal Gaelic society was imbued with a strong patriarchal ideology" — the source given for this is Women and Gender in the Early Modern Western Gàidhealtachd. However, this is outside the scope of Gaelic Ireland (before 1607) because it deals with "the early modern Scottish Gaidhealtachd" during "the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries".
~Asarlaí 18:08, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Ok, but you've basically removed everything I put in. I might just mention that if the wording with the reference to the Early Modern Western Gàidhealtachd is outside the scope of Gaelic Ireland (and I would beg to differ, considering Ireland is also mentioned in the relevant paragraph of Stiubhart's work), then it probably shouldn't have been deleted from the Gaels article. Secondly, I'm not sure if Ginnel's work mentions male guardianship (can't remember if it was me or someone else who inserted that line), but the statement is in sync with these articles on Wikipedia: Legal rights of women in history - Ireland, and Early Irish law - Women and marriage. So those sorts of comments really should be given a [citation needed] at worst, not outright deleted. And the claim that "it has been argued that, compared to other European societies of the time, Gaelic women had more rights than others" also needs to be referenced properly - I can't find any mention of that claim in the source given. Ben Dawid (talk) 01:38, 13 October 2010 (UTC)
Since there's no mention of "male guardians" in Ginnel's work, the comments should be removed until a reliable source is found. I'll also remove the quote you highlighted since it doesn't seem to be backed-up by the source.
~Asarlaí 02:15, 13 October 2010 (UTC)
Thanks mate, it's looking a little more balanced now. Ben Dawid (talk) 09:10, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

Medieval Irish women[edit]

The following extracts are from "Medieval Ireland:An Encyclopedia", edited by Seán Duffy, 2005. I won't edit it into the article myself as I no longer feel competent to make such edits, but will leave it here for those who can. The section is titled "Women", the author is Katherine Simms and it is divided into the following sections:

"Women in Sagas Irish sagas set in the pre-Christian period feature some very masterful heroines, notably Medb, queen of Connacht ... This can give people the impression that women had greater freedom and control in pagan Ireland before the norms of Christianity redefined their role in society. However, there are two problems with this interpretation. First, most of the sagas were actually written between the ninth and the twelfth centuries or later, by Christian scribes adapting their rich inheritence of old traditions to suit the taste of their own times. Second, a number of their female protagonists, Queen Medb in particular, were based on goddesses or female symbols of soverignty, whose extensive powers reflect their own supernatural attributes rather than the role of ordinary women at any date." (p.520)

"Women in Saints' Lives Female saints also had supernatural attributes, in the sence that the Latin or Irish accounts of their lives credit them with many miracles. Otherwise they are shown as respected abbesses running communities of nuns ... . They show the nuns employing men to plow the lands attached to their communities, entertaining visiting bishops and abbots to hospitable meals that might include home-brewed beer, fostering young boys ultimatly destined for the priesthood, and giving them their early education. Certain saints, like Lasair of Kilronan, are reputed to have pursued academic studies under the instruction of male saints and to have become qualified to instruct male clerics themselves, but the Life of St. Lasair is a late text written in a secular school of hereditary male historians, and it is uncertain if this feature of the Life is bas on very early tradition. The fact is, we have no Latin works from early Ireland attributed to female authors, though we may have some Irish poems, such as "St. Íte's Lullaby to the Baby Jesus" or "The Lament of the Hag (or Nun) of Beare." ... as "heir" to the lands and authority endowing her nunnery, any abbess qualified as a female landowner, and this was the one class of female who did enjoy a degree of independene and power in early Irish law." (p.520)

"Landownership in the Laws ... Full status as a free citizen in early Ireland depended on landownership, and fmaily lands could only be transmitted through male heirs. If a man had no sons, his daughter might inherit his share of the family estate for her lifetime. Such an heiress would have the legal rights of a property owner, and the same public liability for tax and services as a male landowner. ... However, she could not pass on her estate to her children. After her death it would revert to her father's kindred, unless she married her first cousion on her father's side or another close relative, allowing her children to inherit the land through their father." (pp.520-21)

"Legal Capacity Apart from these exceptional heiresses, women received only movable property - cows, household goods, or silver - from their fathers, normally as marriage goods. They were thus "second-class citizens", legally dependent on their fathers or brothers if they were single, or on their husbands or grown-up sons if they were married. However, women were not completly without rights. Honor price (lóg n-enech) was a graded system applied to different classes in society, and used by lawyers to calculate the amount of compensation a freeman or noble could claim for insults or injuries. A wife's honor price was set at half the value of her husband's. ... The husband had an even greater right to object to his wife's contracts for a period of fifteen or twenty days after she agreed to a bargin. Secondary wives or concubines with children had lesser rights, and concubines with no children had even less control. ..." (p.521)

"Marriage Although Old Irish treatises on customary law bear all the sings of having been written by or for clerics, suprisingly they recognise many more types of union between man and woman than a monogamous Christian marriage. They were compiled between the seventh and the ninth century C.E. before Carolingian church reforms gave Continental clergy a greater tole in regulating marriage laws, and at a time when Christian Merovingian and Anglo-Saxon kings publicly kept concubines and sometimes passed on their thrones to the sons of those concubines. Old Irish law tracts give pride of place to a man's one offical wife, the "first in the household" (cétmuinter), who normally contributed movable property of her own to the joint housekeeping and was entitled to recieve it back, with any accumulated profits, if the couple divorced later. Divorce could be initiated by either the husband or the wife, on a number of grounds. A wife, for example, could cite her husband's impotence or sterility, beating her severly enough to leave a scar, homosexuality causing him to neglect her marriage bed, failure to provide for her support, disscussing her sexual preformance in public, spreading rumors about her, his having tricked her into marriage by using magic arts, or his having abandoned her for another woman. In this last case, however, the first wife had the right to remain in the marriage if she wished, and was then entitled to continued maintenance from her husband.

A man could only marry another cétmuinter if his first wife was a permanent invalid unable to fulfill her marital duty, but it was not uncommon for husband to acquire one or more secondary wives or concubines, known in the Old Irish tracts as airech', but significantly described in the later commentararies as adaltrach (adulteress). Irish marital customs attracted severe criticism from church reformers in the late eleventh century. Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury referred to Irishmen arbitrarily divorcing one wife in exchange for antoher "by the law of marriage or rather the law of fornication," and Pope Gregory VII heard it rumoured that many Irish "not only desert their lawful wives, but even sell them." (p.521)

"The Later Middle Ages ... Ordinary Irishwomen are first described by foreigners, medieval pilgrims to St. Patrick's Purgatory, or the bureaucrats of the Tudor reconquest. All report a generally relaxed attitude toward nudity and sex, which may relate to the failure of the Gregorian drive for clerical celibacyt to make much headway in rural Ireland. Christina Harrington has noted that Irish churchmen, often themselves married, did not normally dmonize women in their writings or project her as a temptress responsible for man's sins. Young girls in Cork were seen by Fynes Moryson grinding corn stark naked, presumably to preserve their clothes from flour. The rural prostitutes of sixteenth century Gaelic Ireland, described by Edmund Spenser as monashul (mná siúl:wandering women), in default of urban centers wandered from place to place and fair to fair, and were seen as just one of the lower-class entertainers like gamesters or jugglers, suitable recipients of a great lord's fringe hospitality. Moryson noted as unusual that gentlewomen and irish chieftains' wives stayed drinking "health after health" with the men at banquets, though unmarried maidens might be sent away after the first few rounds. Monder Irish Puritanism originated in the seventeenth century, promoted by the Counter-Reformation missionaries and the extension of English common law to Gaelic Ireland under James I." (p522) Author - Katherine Simms.

Related works noted by Katherine Simms are:

  • Marriage in Ireland, ed Art Cosgrove, Dublin, 1985.
  • Women and the Church in Medieval Ireland by Dianne Patricia Hall, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2003.
  • Women in a Celtic Church: Ireland 450-1150, Christina Harrington, Oxford Univrsity Press, 2002.

I hope this will be of use to the editors. Fergananim (talk) 14:44, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Irish kings, kingship, and kingdoms[edit]

I note there is some discussion on the above topics. As an aid, I shall add the following extracts from the above publication, titled "Kings and Kingship", by Bart Jaski, pp.251-254.

"Kings and Kingship Medieval Ireland was marked by the existence of dozens of kingdoms, each ruled by a king who in the early medieval period was technically the highest nobelman in the túath. Most kings were subject to over kings, who were the policy-makers of the time. They based their authority over other lords and kings on ties of blood relationship and alliance. The integrity of such alliances partially depended on the pwoer and personal qualities of the over king. The ruling kindreds of the Irish kingdoms were often caught between the forces of internal division and outward stability. The rule of inheritance and succession stiulated competetition among relatives and expansion by the kindred's branches. Yet it also gave the kindred as a whole a measure of stability and flexibilty, as the kindred hardly ever died out in the male line. Several royal dynasties remained in control of an area for many centuries." (p.251)

"Historial Roots The historical roots of Irish kingship are still debated. It has been argued that pagan sacral kings, who ruled over tribes, were replaced by aristocratic kings, who ruled over kindreds in the period of the coming of Christianity and the rise of expansionist dynasties. The monst anceitn collective names are those only found in the plural (such as Laigin and Ulaid), and those names enging in r(a)ige, from -rigion (kingdom), such as Cíarraige and Osraige. These are held to express a tribal feeling, since they are connected to matters usch as human characteristics, totem animals, or deities. Yet such "tribes" may well have been ruled by certain families, as they were among the continental Celts in the first centuries B.C. and A.D. ..." (pp.251-52).

"Royal Duties At around the eight century there were probably over one hundred territories that were ruled by a rí túaithe (king of a people or territory). Although the title means litterally "king", the holder was essentially the highest nobleman of the túath. He held the main nobilbity of the tuath in clintship; they owed him tribute and support in exchange for protection and representation. Together with the bishiop and the master-poet, the king had the highest status in the territory. A person's status was expressed by his honor price, wich determined his legal rights and entitlements. ... As leader of the people, the king hosted ayearly assembly (óenach), had a council (airecht; later oireacht)with members of the secular and ecclesiastical elite, and conferred with other kings at a meeting (dál). He had a number of servitors to support him in his office, such as a steward, messenger, judge, and champion." (p. 252).

"Succession According to theory, the headship of a royal or noble kindred was due the most suitable person in regard to descent, age, and abilities. When the head of a kindred died, and he had no other near relatives, this oldest son succeeded him. ... In practise, such matters were often resolved by internal struggle or by negotiation, by which a senior candidate could relinquish his claims in exchange for certain privileges. No candidate had an absolute right to the succession, not even the tánaise ríg. Daughters had no permanent right to kin-land, and heiresses could not pass on kin-land to their offspring. Hence, outsiders could not take the headship of a family that had died out in the male line by marrying an heiress, as became common in medieval Europe. When a lineage died out, their land reverted to their male next-of-kin. Theis catered to stability within the Irish dynasties in the long run, but division fo the kin-land and collateral succession often resulted in temporary fragmentation of the kindred's assets and political power." (p.252)

"Dynastic Kingship In theory, the descendants of the sons of a lord alternated in the headship of the kindred, as long as they were duly qualified. In practise, who who - for whatever reason - were passed over for the succession for often unable to attract sufficient clients to maintain noble status for several generations. Their descendants became commoners and clients of their more fortunate relatives. This fate could be avoided by joining the ranks of the poets or clerics, or by competing successfully for power."

"In order to relieve internal pressure and extend the domination of the kindred, a ruler could install brothers or sons as rulers over neighboring client-peoples. The new noble or royal branches thus created remained part of the same kindred, and nominally subject to an over king as their common head. The over kingship was often contested by the leaders of the most powerful branches of the kindred, and this often led to destructive succession struggles. An over king who was disobeyed raided the territory of his errant subkings, in order to drive off their cattle as tribute or to take their hostages as guarantees for future obedience. Internal wargare could weaken the kindred as a whole, with the succession erratically being taken by this branch or that."

"Usually, one or two branches came out on top and subjugated all others. Yet within a few generations the winningh branch would itself be split up into rival lineages, and the whole cycle would start anew. This process remained typical for irish dynastic kingship until the end of the Gaelic order in the decades around 1600." (pp.252-53)

"Over Kingships The importance of blood relationship for claims of submission and tribute is reflected in the Irish political nomenclature. The ruleing dynasties are all named after a legendary or historical ancestor, who name is preceded by a term expressing kinship, such as Corco (seed), Dál (division) Clann (children), Cenél (kindred), Síl (seed) and Uí (grandson or descendants). All those who recognized the same ancestor politically tied together. Certain dynasties were, by mutual consent or a procured relatioship, held to be related. This reflected in the Old-Irish word cairdes, which means "kinship" and by extension, "friendship." A popwerful over king could claim that others were his relatives, and thus claim authority over them. Genealogical bonds expressed political bonds, hence the importance of the recording of genealogy in the medieval sources."

"The law tracts of around 700 recognize a hierarchy of kings of a túath, king of several túatha, and the provincial kings. The provincial king ruled not only a powerful dynasty but also a defined territory that he habitually dominated, named a cóiced (literally "fifth"). A king of Ireland only existed on a theoretical basis, as no dynasty had bee able to rule Ireland permanently."(p.253)

"Political Structure Already before the eighth century the over kingship had begun to dissolve the túath as the basic sociopolitical unit. Most of the irish petty kings were subject to an over king, and many were hardly independent rulers. The power of the over kings over their dynasties and neighbouring kings increased in time, and about a dozen were of major consequence. The Uí Néill rule in Mide, Brega and The North (In Túasceirt); the Uí Briúin and Uí Fiachrach in Connacht; the Uí Meic Uais and Uí Chremthainn in Airgíalla; the Dál Fiatach and Dál nAraidi in Ulster; the Uí Dúnlainge and Uí Cheinnselaig in Leinster; and the Eóganachta in Munster. until the tenth century the over kings of the Ui Neill and Eóganachta dominated Ireland, and claimed suzerainty over Leth Cuinn and Leth Moga, respectively. ... The kings of Tara came to overpower the kings of Ulster and Leinster as well. Hence Máel Muire Othain (d. 887) attaches the Laigin and Ulaid (Dál Fiatach) to those whom shared a common ancestor with the Ui Neill in his poem on the Irish invasion myth. A few kings of Tara, from Máel Sechnaill mac Máele Ruanaid (ruled 846-862) onward, took hostage of the kings of Cashel and claimed to be kings of Ireland. Internal rivalry and losses against the Vikings were among the factors by which the Eóganachta and Uí Néill fell apart in the tenth century."(p.253)

"Later Developments The career of Brian Boru (d.1014) marked the end of the domination of the Eóganachta and Uí Néill. This gave other dynasties the opportunity to rise to power. Notable kings were now given the honoary title "high king" (ard-rí), a term subsequently used to denote the kings of Tara of old. This gave rise to the anachronistic notion of a high kingship of Ireland. In the new political order that ensued, the leading families were Mac Murchada (Uí Cheinnselaig) in Leinster, Mac Carthaig (Eoghanacht Caisil) in Desmond, Ua Briain (Dal gCais in Thomond) Ua Conchobair (Ui Briuin Ai) in Connacht, Ua Bruaic (Ua Briuin Breifne) in the northern Midlands, and Ua Domnaill Cenel Conaill) Ui Neill, and Mac Lochlainn (Cenel nEoghain) in the North. Apart from Mac Lochlainn, they remained powerful from around 1150 to 1600, which tesifies to the resilience of the main Irish dynasties. These families also had the tendency to extend the domination by planting branches on neighbouring territories. After the Anglo-Norman invasion there was an increading development toward the exercise of lordship among feudal lines, but on the whole Gaelic tendencies persevered. These included the donation of turastal and the impositions of coshering and coyne and livery. Internal rivalry, raiding, hostage-taking, and fluctuations in alliances and power remained characteristic for the Gaelic lordships. This hampered the implementation fo the English surrender-and-regrant policy in the decades around 1600, by which the Irish kings and lords were recreated as English earls and barons, with the promise to follow English law and custom. In the end, the irish royal families died out, lost power, or their chiefs went abroad, and few managed to keep up their noble stature." (p.253-53)

Is mise, Fergananim (talk) 15:55, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Culture and society[edit]

The first paragraph of this section makes several unsubstantiated claims, and currently reads like OR, can someone add some references please? Markb (talk) 13:59, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

"No Towns or Villages".[edit]

So, yeah. No towns or villages in the early Medieval period of Ireland's history. Surely that's an exaggeration. I mean sure, as far as towns go, nothing on the scale of the European mainland. But no villages? I'm pretty sure that village life would have existed in this period. Certainly, the ringforts and monasteries would have needed such settlements close by to support them? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:21, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

It's also wrong when on the scale of England, from which the perspective comes. Towns in England were little bigger than the continent's largest villages as well, only five of England's cities were at the continental level. (talk) 02:48, 22 December 2012 (UTC)