Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Gaelic Ireland

Gaelic Ireland

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Gaelic Ireland'
Start a new discussion about 'Gaelic Ireland'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Gaelic Ireland is the name given to the period when a Gaelic
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

 political order existed in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

. The order continued to exist after the arrival of the Anglo-Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 (1169 AD) until about 1607 AD. For much of this period, the island was a patchwork of kingdoms of various size and other semi-sovereign territories known as túath
Tuath
Túath is an Old Irish word, often translated as "people" or "nation". It is cognate with the Welsh and Breton tud , and with the Germanic þeudō ....

a, much like the situation in Medieval Germany
Medieval Germany
Medieval Germany:*Carolingian Empire *East Francia *Kingdom of Germany *German Late Middle Ages...

 but in most periods without any effective national overlordship. These kingdoms and túatha very frequently competed for control of resources and thus continually grew and receded with the fortunes of time. Thousands of battles and predatory excursions involving their leaders are recorded in the Irish annals
Irish annals
A number of Irish annals were compiled up to and shortly after the end of Gaelic Ireland in the 17th century.Annals were originally a means by which monks determined the yearly chronology of feast days...

 and other sources.

After the Norman invasion
Norman Invasion of Ireland
The Norman invasion of Ireland was a two-stage process, which began on 1 May 1169 when a force of loosely associated Norman knights landed near Bannow, County Wexford...

 of 1169–71, large portions of Ireland came under the control of Norman lords – this territory was known as the Lordship of Ireland
Lordship of Ireland
The Lordship of Ireland refers to that part of Ireland that was under the rule of the king of England, styled Lord of Ireland, between 1177 and 1541. It was created in the wake of the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169–71 and was succeeded by the Kingdom of Ireland...

. However, the Gaelic system continued to exist in areas outside Norman control, and the government
Parliament of Ireland
The Parliament of Ireland was a legislature that existed in Dublin from 1297 until 1800. In its early mediaeval period during the Lordship of Ireland it consisted of either two or three chambers: the House of Commons, elected by a very restricted suffrage, the House of Lords in which the lords...

's power gradually shrank to an area known as The Pale
The Pale
The Pale or the English Pale , was the part of Ireland that was directly under the control of the English government in the late Middle Ages. It had reduced by the late 15th century to an area along the east coast stretching from Dalkey, south of Dublin, to the garrison town of Dundalk...

. In 1541 the Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

 was established and the English monarchy began to conquer the island. This resulted in the Flight of the Earls
Flight of the Earls
The Flight of the Earls took place on 14 September 1607, when Hugh Ó Neill of Tír Eóghain, Rory Ó Donnell of Tír Chonaill and about ninety followers left Ireland for mainland Europe.-Background to the exile:...

 in 1607, which marked the end of the Gaelic order.

Culture and society



Gaelic culture and society was centered around the Fine (clan
Clan
A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be symbolical, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a...

n) and, as such, the landscape and history of Ireland was wrought with inter-fine relationships, marriages, friendships, wars, vendettas, trading, and so on. Despite this, Gaelic Ireland possessed a rich oral culture and appreciation of deeper and intellectual pursuits. Filidh and druids were held in high regard during pagan
Celtic polytheism
Celtic polytheism, commonly known as Celtic paganism, refers to the religious beliefs and practices adhered to by the Iron Age peoples of Western Europe now known as the Celts, roughly between 500 BCE and 500 CE, spanning the La Tène period and the Roman era, and in the case of the Insular Celts...

 times and carried the oral history and traditions of their people throughout generations. Later, many of the spiritual and intellectual tasks they carried out were passed down to Christian monks, after said religion prevailed from the 5th century onwards. However, the filidh continued to hold a high position in their clanns and territories. Poetry, music, storytelling, literature and various forms of arts were highly prized and cultivated in both pagan and Christian Gaelic Ireland. Hospitality, bonds of kinship and the fulfilment of social and ritual responsibilities were held sacred.

The Gaelic order in Ireland, rather than a single unified kingdom in the feudal sense, was a patchwork of túath
Tuath
Túath is an Old Irish word, often translated as "people" or "nation". It is cognate with the Welsh and Breton tud , and with the Germanic þeudō ....

a (singular: túath). These túatha often competed for control of resources and thus continually grew and shrank. Law tracts from the beginning of the eight century describe a hierarchy of kings: kings of túath subject to kings of several túatha who again were subject to provincial over kings. Already before the 8th century these over-kingships had begun to dissolve the túatha as the basic sociopolitic unit.

Religion and mythology


Paganism



Before Christianisation, the religion of the Gaelic Irish, as with other Celts, can be described as polytheistic or pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

. They worshipped a variety of gods and goddesses, which generally have parallels in the pantheons of other Celts. They were also animists
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

, believing that all aspects of the natural world contained spirits, and that these spirits could be communicated with. Burial practices –which included burying food, weapons, and ornaments with the dead– suggest a belief in life after death
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

. Some have equated this afterlife with the realms known as Mag Mell
Mag Mell
In Irish mythology, Mag Mell was a mythical realm achievable through death and/or glory...

 and Tír na nÓg
Tír na nÓg
Tír na nÓg is the most popular of the Otherworlds in Irish mythology. It is perhaps best known from the story of Oisín, one of the few mortals who lived there, who was said to have been brought there by Niamh of the Golden Hair. It was where the Tuatha Dé Danann settled when they left Ireland's...

 in Irish mythology. There were four major religious festivals each year, marking the traditional four divisions of the year – Imbolc
Imbolc
Imbolc , or St Brigid’s Day , is an Irish festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is celebrated on 1 or 2 February in the northern hemisphere and 1 August in the southern hemisphere...

, Beltaine, Lughnasadh
Lughnasadh
Lughnasadh is a traditional Gaelic holiday celebrated on 1 August. It is in origin a harvest festival, corresponding to the Welsh Calan Awst and the English Lammas.-Name:...

 and Samhain
Samhain
Samhain is a Gaelic harvest festival held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularised as the "Celtic New Year" from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer...

.

The mythology of Ireland did not entirely survive the conversion to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, but much of it was preserved, shorn of its religious meanings, in medieval Irish literature. This large body of work is typically divided into three overlapping cycles: the Mythological Cycle
Mythological Cycle
The Mythological Cycle is one of the four major cycles of Irish mythology, and is so called because it represents the remains of the pagan mythology of pre-Christian Ireland, although the gods and supernatural beings have been euhemerised into historical kings and heroes.The cycle consists of...

, the Ulster Cycle
Ulster Cycle
The Ulster Cycle , formerly known as the Red Branch Cycle, one of the four great cycles of Irish mythology, is a body of medieval Irish heroic legends and sagas of the traditional heroes of the Ulaid in what is now eastern Ulster and northern Leinster, particularly counties Armagh, Down and...

, and the Fenian Cycle
Fenian Cycle
The Fenian Cycle , also referred to as the Ossianic Cycle after its narrator Oisín, is a body of prose and verse centering on the exploits of the mythical hero Fionn mac Cumhaill and his warriors the Fianna. It is one of the four major cycles of Irish mythology along with the Mythological Cycle,...

. The first cycle is a pseudo-history of Ireland that describes four invasions (or migrations) by semi-divine peoples. Two of these groups, the Fomorians
Fomorians
In Irish mythology, the Fomoire are a semi-divine race said to have inhabited Ireland in ancient times. They may have once been believed to be the beings who preceded the gods, similar to the Greek Titans. It has been suggested that they represent the gods of chaos and wild nature, as opposed to...

 and Tuatha Dé Danann
Tuatha Dé Danann
The Tuatha Dé Danann are a race of people in Irish mythology. In the invasions tradition which begins with the Lebor Gabála Érenn, they are the fifth group to settle Ireland, conquering the island from the Fir Bolg....

, are believed to represent the pre-Gaelic and Gaelic pantheons
Pantheon (gods)
A pantheon is a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology.Max Weber's 1922 opus, Economy and Society discusses the link between a...

. The second cycle recounts the lives and deaths of Ulaid
Ulaid
The Ulaid or Ulaidh were a people of early Ireland who gave their name to the modern province of Ulster...

 heroes such as Cúchulainn
Cúchulainn
Cú Chulainn or Cúchulainn , and sometimes known in English as Cuhullin , is an Irish mythological hero who appears in the stories of the Ulster Cycle, as well as in Scottish and Manx folklore...

. The third cycle recounts the exploits of Fionn mac Cumhaill
Fionn mac Cumhaill
Fionn mac Cumhaill , known in English as Finn McCool, was a mythical hunter-warrior of Irish mythology, occurring also in the mythologies of Scotland and the Isle of Man...

 and the Fianna
Fianna
Fianna were small, semi-independent warrior bands in Irish mythology and Scottish mythology, most notably in the stories of the Fenian Cycle, where they are led by Fionn mac Cumhaill....

. There are also a number of stories that do not fit into these cycles – this includes the immrama and echtrai, which are tales of the 'otherworld
Otherworld
Otherworld, or the Celtic Otherworld, is a concept in Celtic mythology that refers to the home of the deities or spirits, or a realm of the dead.Otherworld may also refer to:In film and television:...

' and the voyages to get there.

Christianity


Law



Gaelic law (collectively known as Fénechas) was originally passed down orally, but was written down in Old Irish during the period 600–900 AD. Most of the laws were developed before Christianisation and are largely secular, but there is some Christian influence. These secular laws existed in parallel, and occasionally in conflict, with Church law
Canon law (Catholic Church)
The canon law of the Catholic Church, is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation. It lacks the necessary binding force present in most modern day legal systems. The academic...

. The brithem were the judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 in Gaelic society and were expected to interpret the written laws and give advice or pass judgement accordingly. Kings would have been able to pass judgement also, but it is unclear how much they would have been able to make their own judgments, and how much they would have had to rely on professionals. However, unlike other kingdoms in Europe, Gaelic kings—by their own authority—could not enact new laws as they wished and could not be "above the law".

Gaelic law was a civil
Private law
Private law is that part of a civil law legal system which is part of the jus commune that involves relationships between individuals, such as the law of contracts or torts, as it is called in the common law, and the law of obligations as it is called in civilian legal systems...

 rather than a criminal
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

 code, concerned with the payment of fines (dire) for harm done. Although Gaelic law recognized a distinction between intentional and unintentional injury, any type of injury required compensation. The legal text Bretha Déin Chécht goes into great detail in describing compensation based on the location, severity, and type of wound. Types of fines included coirpdire (body-fine), einachlan (honour-price) and éraic (reparation). The éraic was the fine for murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 or manslaughter
Manslaughter
Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is said to have first been made by the Ancient Athenian lawmaker Dracon in the 7th century BC.The law generally differentiates...

; the fine for murder being twice that for manslaughter. State-administered punishment for crime was a foreign concept. Criminals were summoned to appear before a brithem, who heard the case and assessed the amount of fine that should be paid. If the defendant did not pay outright, his property was seized
Distraint
Distraint or distress is "the seizure of someone’s property in order to obtain payment of rent or other money owed", especially in common law countries...

 until he did so. Should the offender be unable to pay, his family would be responsible for doing so. Should the family be unable or unwilling to pay, responsibility would extend to the wider fine. If the criminal died, and his crime was purely personal, the fine would be freed of liability. However, if the criminal died and his crime had caused damage/loss of property, the fine was still liable for this loss. Hence, it has been argued that "the people were their own police".

Punishment was adjusted to match one's rank or profession. In certain cases, those of higher rank could receive a higher amount of compensation. However, an offence against the property of a poor man (who could ill afford it), was punished more harshly than a similar offence upon a wealthy man. The clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 were more harshly punished than the laity
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

. When a layman had paid his fine he would go through a probationary period and then regain his status, but a convicted clergyman could never regain his status.

It is generally believed that execution
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 of criminals was rare. If a murderer was unable/unwilling to pay éraic and was surrendered to his victim's family, they might kill him if they pleased should nobody intervene by paying the éraic. Certain criminals might be expelled from the fine and its territory, even though the fine had been paid. Such people became outlaws (with no protection from the law) and anyone who sheltered him became liable for his crimes. If he still haunted the fine territory and continued his crimes there, he was proclaimed in the fines public assembly and after this anyone might lawfully kill him.

The law texts take great care to define social status, the rights and duties that went with that status, and the relationships between people. For example, chieftains had to take responsibility for members of their fine, acting as a surety
Surety
A surety or guarantee, in finance, is a promise by one party to assume responsibility for the debt obligation of a borrower if that borrower defaults...

 for some of the actions of members and making sure debts were paid. He would also be responsible for unmarried women after the death of their fathers.

Structure




In Gaelic Ireland each person belonged to a kin-group known as a clan
Clan
A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be symbolical, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a...

n (plural: clanna) or fine (plural: finte). Each clann was a large group of related people—theoretically an extended family—supposedly descended from one progenitor and all owing allegiance to its chieftain, known as a cennfine or toísech
Taoiseach
The Taoiseach is the head of government or prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

 (plural: toísigh). Often, clanna are thought of as based on blood kinship alone; however, clanna also included those who were adopted or fostered into the clann, and those who joined the clann for strategic reasons (such as safety or combining of resources). As Nicholls describes, they would be better thought of as akin to the modern-day corporation
Corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

. The power of clanna fluctuated, and endemic warfare
Endemic warfare
Endemic warfare is the state of continual, low-threshold warfare in a tribal warrior society. Endemic warfare is often highly ritualized and plays an important function in assisting the formation of a social structure among the tribes' men by proving themselves in battle.Ritual fighting permits...

 between clanna was a constant affair. Once-powerful clanna could in time decline in stature and be amalgamated into once-smaller ones. How this "merger" would be dealt with would be a matter of negotiation. Many clanna were also divided into a number of sub-groups known as septs
Sept (social)
A sept is an English word for a division of a family, especially a division of a clan. The word might have its origin from Latin saeptum "enclosure, fold", or it can be an alteration of sect.The term is found in both Ireland and Scotland...

, often when that group took up residence outside the original clann territory.

Lineage was based on the practice of tanistry
Tanistry
Tanistry was a Gaelic system for passing on titles and lands. In this system the Tanist was the office of heir-apparent, or second-in-command, among the Gaelic patrilineal dynasties of Ireland, Scotland and Man, to succeed to the chieftainship or to the kingship.-Origins:The Tanist was chosen from...

 (rather than primogeniture
Primogeniture
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings . Historically, the term implied male primogeniture, to the exclusion of females...

). At an assembly called a tocomra a relative was elected—prior to the death of a leader—to act as his deputy and then his successor. To be eligible for election, one had to share the same great-grandfather as the toísech. This group of electable cousins was called the derbfine
Derbfine
The derbfine was an Irish agnatic kinship group and power structure as defined in the law tracts of the eighth century. Its principal purpose was as an institution of property inheritance, with property redistributed on the death of a member to those remaining members of the derbfine...

, and the elected person was called a tanaiste
Tánaiste
The Tánaiste is the deputy prime minister of Ireland. The current Tánaiste is Eamon Gilmore, TD who was appointed on 9 March 2011.- Origins and etymology :...

 (plural: tanaistí). The clann system formed the basis of society.

Gaelic society was structured hierarchically
Hierarchy
A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above," "below," or "at the same level as" one another...

.
  • The top social layer was the nobility (nemed), which included kings or
    Rí, or very commonly ríg , is an ancient Gaelic word meaning "King". It is used in historical texts referring to the Irish and Scottish kings and those of similar rank. While the modern Irish word is exactly the same, in modern Scottish it is Rìgh, apparently derived from the genitive. The word...

    , princes or flatha, lords or tiarnaí, and chieftains (toísigh). See also Gaelic nobility of Ireland for their surviving modern descendants.

  • Below that were the professionals (dóernemed), which included skilled poets (fili
    Fili
    A fili was a member of an elite class of poets in Ireland, up into the Renaissance, when the Irish class system was dismantled.-Elite scholars:According to the Textbook of Irish Literature, by Eleanor Hull:-Oral tradition:...

    d), judges (brithem), craftsmen, physicians, and so on. Masters in a particular profession were known as ollam
    Ollam
    In Irish, Ollam or Ollamh , is a master in a particular trade or skill. In early Irish Literature, it generally refers to the highest rank of Fili; it could also modify other terms to refer to the highest member of any group: thus an ollam brithem would be the highest rank of judge and an ollam rí...

    h. The various professions—including law, poetry, medicine, history and genealogy—were associated with particular hereditary families. Although most practised only one profession, some exercised more than one. Prior to the Christianisation of Ireland, this group also included the druídecht
    Druid
    A druid was a member of the priestly class in Britain, Ireland, and Gaul, and possibly other parts of Celtic western Europe, during the Iron Age....

     and fáithe
    Vates
    The earliest Latin writers used vātēs to denote "prophets" and soothsayers in general; the word fell into disuse in Latin until it was revived by Virgil...

    . The druídecht or druids could combine the duties of priest, judge, scholar, poet, physician, and religious teacher, while the fáithe acted as soothsayer
    Fortune-telling
    Fortune-telling is the practice of predicting information about a person's life. The scope of fortune-telling is in principle identical with the practice of divination...

    s and clairvoyants
    Clairvoyance
    The term clairvoyance is used to refer to the ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through means other than the known human senses, a form of extra-sensory perception...

    .

  • Below that were those who owned land and cattle (bóaire
    Boaire
    Bóaire was a title given to a member of medieval and earlier Gaelic societies prior to the introductions of English law according to Early Irish law. The terms means a "Cow lord". Despite this a Bóaire was a "free-holder", and ranked below the noble grades but above the unfree...

    ).

  • Below that were serf
    SERF
    A spin exchange relaxation-free magnetometer is a type of magnetometer developed at Princeton University in the early 2000s. SERF magnetometers measure magnetic fields by using lasers to detect the interaction between alkali metal atoms in a vapor and the magnetic field.The name for the technique...

    s (bothach) and slaves (mug). Slaves were typically criminals or prisoners of war.

  • The warrior bands (fianna
    Fianna
    Fianna were small, semi-independent warrior bands in Irish mythology and Scottish mythology, most notably in the stories of the Fenian Cycle, where they are led by Fionn mac Cumhaill....

    ) generally lived apart from society. A fian was typically composed of young men who had not yet come into their inheritance
    Inheritance
    Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights and obligations upon the death of an individual. It has long played an important role in human societies...

     of land. A member of a fian was called a fénnid and the leader of a fian was a rígfénnid. Geoffrey Keating
    Geoffrey Keating
    Seathrún Céitinn, known in English as Geoffrey Keating, was a 17th century Irish Roman Catholic priest, poet and historian. He was born in County Tipperary c. 1569, and died c. 1644...

    , in his 17th century History of Ireland, says that during the winter the fianna were quartered and fed by the nobility, during which time they would keep order on their behalf. But during the summer, from Beltaine to Samhain
    Samhain
    Samhain is a Gaelic harvest festival held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularised as the "Celtic New Year" from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer...

    , they were obliged to live by hunting for food and for pelts to sell.


Although quite distinct, these ranks were not utterly exclusive caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

s like those of India. It was possible for persons to rise or sink from one rank to another. Progressing upward could be achieved a number of ways, such as by gaining wealth, by gaining skill in some department, by qualifying for a learned profession, by displaying conspicuous valour, or by performing some signal service to the community. An example is a person choosing to become a briugu (hospitaller). A briugu had to have his house open to any guests, which included feeding no matter how large the group. To enable the briugu to fulfill these duties, he was allowed more land and privileges, but if he ever refused guests he could lose this status.

Marriage, women and children


Commenting on the general view of women, Richard Stanihurst wrote in 1584 that at Irish social gatherings, "the prime place at the table is bestowed upon the woman of the household".

Apparently the laws on marriage and divorce were wholly pagan, and never underwent any change in Christian times. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Gaelic Irish kept many of their marriage laws and traditions separate from those of the Church.

Under Gaelic law, married women could hold property independent of their husbands, the tie between married women and their own families was kept intact, couples could easily divorce/separate, and men could have concubines
Concubinage
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented, relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status or economic condition.-Concubinage:...

 (which could be lawfully bought). These laws differed from most of contemporary Europe and from Church law.

The lawful age of marriage was fifteen for girls and eighteen for boys. Upon marriage, the families of the bride and bridegroom were expected to contribute to the match. It was the custom for the bridegroom and his family to pay a coibche and the bride was allowed a portion of it. If the marriage ended due to a fault of the husband then the coibche was kept by the wife and her family, but if the fault lay with the wife then the coibche was to be returned. It was customary for the bride to receive a spréidh from her family (or foster family) upon marriage. This was to be returned if the marriage ended through divorce or the death of the husband. Later, the spréidh seems to have been converted into a dowry
Dowry
A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage. It contrasts with bride price, which is paid to the bride's parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both...

. Women could seek divorce/separation as easily as men could and, when obtained on her petition, she kept all the property she had brought her husband during their marriage.

Trial marriages seem to have been popular among the rich and powerful, and thus it has been argued that cohabitation
Cohabitation
Cohabitation usually refers to an arrangement whereby two people decide to live together on a long-term or permanent basis in an emotionally and/or sexually intimate relationship. The term is most frequently applied to couples who are not married...

 before marriage must have been acceptable. It also seems that the wife of a chieftain was entitled to some share of the chief's authority over his territory. This led to some Gaelic Irish wives wielding a great deal of political power.

In Gaelic Ireland a type of fosterage
Fosterage
Fosterage, the practice of a family bringing up a child not their own, differs from adoption in that the child's parents, not the foster-parents, remain the acknowledged parents. In many modern western societies foster care can be organised by the state to care for children with troubled family...

 was commonplace, whereby (for certain periods of time) children would be placed in the care of other fine members, namely their mother's family, preferably her brother. This may have been used to strengthen family ties or political bonds. Foster parents were required to teach their foster children or to have them taught. Foster parents who had properly done their duties were entitled to be supported by their foster children in old age (if they were in need and had no children of their own). As with divorce, Gaelic law again differed from most of Europe and from Church law in giving legal status to both "legitimate" and "illegitimate"
Legitimacy (law)
At common law, legitimacy is the status of a child who is born to parents who are legally married to one another; and of a child who is born shortly after the parents' divorce. In canon and in civil law, the offspring of putative marriages have been considered legitimate children...

 children.

Settlements and architecture



The Gaelic Irish typically lived in circular houses with conical roofs. In some areas, walls were built mostly of stone. In others, walls were built with wattle and daub
Wattle and daub
Wattle and daub is a composite building material used for making walls, in which a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle is daubed with a sticky material usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw...

, timber, sods, clay, or a mix of materials. Roofs were made of thatch or sods. These houses (along with livestock) were often surrounded by a circular rampart
Circular rampart
A circular rampart is an embankment built in the shape of a circle that was used as part of the defences for a military fortification, hill fort or refuge, or was built for religious purposes or as a place of gathering....

 called a "ringfort
Ringfort
Ringforts are circular fortified settlements that were mostly built during the Iron Age , although some were built as late as the Early Middle Ages . They are found in Northern Europe, especially in Ireland...

". There are two main types of ringfort. The ráth is an earthen ringfort, averaging 30m diameter, with a dry outside ditch. The cathair or caiseal is a stone ringfort. Sometimes there were several buildings inside. Most date to the period 500–1000 CE and there is evidence of large-scale ringfort desertion at the end of the first millennium. Between 30,000 and 40,000 survived into the 19th century to be mapped by Ordnance Survey Ireland
Ordnance Survey Ireland
Ordnance Survey Ireland is the national mapping agency of the Republic of Ireland and, together with the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland , succeeded, after 1922, the Irish operations of the United Kingdom Ordnance Survey. It is part of the Public service of the Republic of Ireland...

. Another type of native dwelling was the crannóg
Crannog
A crannog is typically a partially or entirely artificial island, usually built in lakes, rivers and estuarine waters of Scotland and Ireland. Crannogs were used as dwellings over five millennia from the European Neolithic Period, to as late as the 17th/early 18th century although in Scotland,...

, which were fortified roundhouses built on wooden platforms in lakes.

Monastic settlements emerged in the 5th century. Although there were no town
Town
A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while...

s or village
Village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

s, the monasteries sometimes became the centre of a small settlement cluster or "monastic town". By the 10th century, there were few nucleated settlements other than these monastic towns and the Norse-Gaelic
Norse-Gaels
The Norse–Gaels were a people who dominated much of the Irish Sea region, including the Isle of Man, and western Scotland for a part of the Middle Ages; they were of Gaelic and Scandinavian origin and as a whole exhibited a great deal of Gaelic and Norse cultural syncretism...

 ports. It was at this time, perhaps as a response to Viking raids, that many of the Irish round tower
Irish round tower
Irish round towers , Cloigthithe – literally "bell house") are early medieval stone towers of a type found mainly in Ireland, with three in Scotland and one on the Isle of Man...

s were built.

In the fifty years before the Norman invasion (1169), the term "castle" appears in Gaelic writings, although all the recorded examples of pre-Norman castles have been destroyed. After the invasion, the Normans converted some ringforts into motte-and-bailey
Motte-and-bailey
A motte-and-bailey is a form of castle, with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade...

s. From the mid 14th century onward, the Normans began to build tower house
Tower house
A tower house is a particular type of stone structure, built for defensive purposes as well as habitation.-History:Tower houses began to appear in the Middle Ages, especially in mountain or limited access areas, in order to command and defend strategic points with reduced forces...

s in large numbers. These are free-standing multi-storey stone towers usually surrounded by a wall (see bawn
Bawn
A bawn is the defensive wall surrounding an Irish tower house. It is the anglicised version of the Irish word badhún meaning "cattle-stronghold" or "cattle-enclosure". The Irish word for "cow" is bó and its plural is ba...

) and ancillary buildings. Gaelic families had begun to build their own tower houses by the 15th century. As many as 7000 may have been built, but they were rare in areas with little Norman settlement or contact. They are concentrated in counties Limerick and Clare but are lacking in Ulster, except the area around Strangford Lough
Strangford Lough
Strangford Lough, sometimes Strangford Loch, is a large sea loch or inlet in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is separated from the Irish Sea by the Ards Peninsula. The name Strangford is derived ; describing the fast-flowing narrows at its mouth...

.

In Gaelic law, a 'sanctuary' called a maighin digona surrounded each person's dwelling. Within this the owner and his family and property were protected by law. The maighin digona's size varied according to the owner's rank. In the case of a bóaire
Boaire
Bóaire was a title given to a member of medieval and earlier Gaelic societies prior to the introductions of English law according to Early Irish law. The terms means a "Cow lord". Despite this a Bóaire was a "free-holder", and ranked below the noble grades but above the unfree...

 it extended as far as he, while sitting at his house, could cast a cnairsech (variously described as a spear or sledgehammer). The owner of a maighin digona could extend its protection to someone fleeing from pursuers, who would then have to resort to legal methods of bringing that person to justice.




Sustenance


Money was non-existent in Gaelic society; instead, livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

 (cows, sheep, pigs and horses) and fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

 was the main currency and the main source of sustenance. Horticulture
Horticulture
Horticulture is the industry and science of plant cultivation including the process of preparing soil for the planting of seeds, tubers, or cuttings. Horticulturists work and conduct research in the disciplines of plant propagation and cultivation, crop production, plant breeding and genetic...

 was practiced; the main crops being oats, wheat and barley, although flax was also grown for making linen. The main exports were fish, hides, wool and linen cloth. The main imports were goods that could not be found in Ireland, such as salt and wine.

Transhumance
Transhumance
Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people with their livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In montane regions it implies movement between higher pastures in summer and to lower valleys in winter. Herders have a permanent home, typically in valleys. Only the herds travel, with...

 was practised, whereby the people moved with their livestock (over short distances) to higher pasture
Pasture
Pasture is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep or swine. The vegetation of tended pasture, forage, consists mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs...

s in summer and back to lower pastures in the cooler months. The summer pasture was called the buaile (anglicised as booley) and it is significant that the Irish word for boy (buachaill) originally meant a herdsman. Many moorland
Moorland
Moorland or moor is a type of habitat, in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome, found in upland areas, characterised by low-growing vegetation on acidic soils and heavy fog...

 areas were "shared as a common summer pasturage
Common land
Common land is land owned collectively or by one person, but over which other people have certain traditional rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, to collect firewood, or to cut turf for fuel...

 by the people of a whole parish or barony".

Dress



Throughout the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, the common clothing amongst the Gaelic Irish consisted of a brat (a woollen cloak or mantle) worn over a léine (a loose-fitting, long-sleeved tunic made of wool or linen). For men these were either thigh-length or knee-length and for women they were longer. Men sometimes wore tight-fitting truis
Trews
Trews are men's clothing for the legs and lower abdomen, a traditional form of tartan trousers from Scottish apparel...

 on the legs, but otherwise went bare-legged. The brat was usually fastened with a crios (belt
Belt (clothing)
A belt is a flexible band or strap, typically made of leather or heavy cloth, and worn around the waist. A belt supports trousers or other articles of clothing.-History:...

) and dealg (brooch
Celtic brooch
The Celtic brooch, more properly called the penannular brooch, and its closely related type, the pseudo-penannular brooch, are types of brooch clothes fasteners, often rather large...

), with men usually wearing the dealg at their shoulders and women at their chests. The ionar (a short, tight-fitting jacket) became popular later on. In Topographia Hibernica
Topographia Hibernica
Topographia Hibernica , also known as Topographia Hiberniae, is an account of the landscape and people of Ireland written by Gerald of Wales around 1188, soon after the Norman invasion of Ireland...

, written during the 1180s, Gerald de Barri wrote that the Irish also wore hoods at that time (perhaps forming part of the brat), while Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English...

 wrote in the 1580s that the brat was (in general) their sole garment.

According to Gerald de Barri, most of the Irish wore clothes made of black wool, because most of the sheep in Ireland were black in his time. The number of colours worn came to indicate the rank or wealth of the wearer; the wealthy often wore cloth of many colours while the poor only wore cloth of one colour.

Both men and women grew their hair long and often braid
Braid
A braid is a complex structure or pattern formed by intertwining three or more strands of flexible material such as textile fibres, wire, or human hair...

ed it. It is claimed that the Gaelic Irish took great pride in their long hair—for example, a person could be forced to pay the heavy fine of two cows for shaving a man's head against his will. The glib (short all over except for a thick lock of hair towards the front of the head) was also popular among some medieval Gaels, and the mohawk
Mohawk hairstyle
The mohawk is a hairstyle in which, in the most common variety, both sides of the head are shaven, leaving a strip of noticeably longer hair...

 may have been popular in pre-Christian times (as worn by the Irish bog body
Bog body
Bog bodies, which are also known as bog people, are the naturally preserved human corpses found in the sphagnum bogs in Northern Europe. Unlike most ancient human remains, bog bodies have retained their skin and internal organs due to the unusual conditions of the surrounding area...

 known as Clonycavan man
Clonycavan Man
Clonycavan Man is the name given to a well-preserved Iron Age bog body found in Clonycavan, County Meath, Ireland in March 2003. He has been calculated to have been approximately 1.57 metres in height, and is remarkable for the "gel" in his hair....

). Gaelic men typically let their facial hair grow into a beard
Beard
A beard is the collection of hair that grows on the chin, cheeks and neck of human beings. Usually, only pubescent or adult males are able to grow beards. However, women with hirsutism may develop a beard...

, and it was often seen as dishonourable for a Gaelic man to have no facial hair.

Warfare



Gaelic Ireland was a land of continuous warfare, as túatha fought for supremacy against each other and (later) against the Anglo-Normans.
Throughout the Middle Ages and for some time after, outsiders often wrote that the style of Irish warfare differed greatly from what they deemed to be the norm. The Gaelic Irish preferred hit-and-run
Hit-and-run tactics
Hit-and-run tactics is a tactical doctrine where the purpose of the combat involved is not to seize control of territory, but to inflict damage on a target and immediately exit the area to avoid the enemy's defense and/or retaliation.-History:...

 raids
Raid (military)
Raid, also known as depredation, is a military tactic or operational warfare mission which has a specific purpose and is not normally intended to capture and hold terrain, but instead finish with the raiding force quickly retreating to a previous defended position prior to the enemy forces being...

 (the creach), which involved catching the enemy unaware and storming their strongholds. If this worked they would then seize any valuables (mainly livestock) and potentially valuable hostages, burn the crops, and escape. The cattle raid was often referred to as a táin bó
Táin Bó
The Táin Bó, or cattle raid , is one of the genres of early Irish literature. The medieval Irish literati organised their work into genres such as the Cattle Raid , the Voyage , the Feast , the Wooing , the Conception and the Death , rather than the familiar but...

 in Gaelic literature. Although hit-and-run raiding was the preferred tactic in medieval times, the Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib recounts lengthy pitched battle
Pitched battle
A pitched battle is a battle where both sides choose to fight at a chosen location and time and where either side has the option to disengage either before the battle starts, or shortly after the first armed exchanges....

s and the use of boats in tandem with land forces. It was not unusual for armies to launch long-range attacks, setting up camps along the way.

A typical medieval Irish army included light infantry
Light infantry
Traditionally light infantry were soldiers whose job was to provide a skirmishing screen ahead of the main body of infantry, harassing and delaying the enemy advance. Light infantry was distinct from medium, heavy or line infantry. Heavy infantry were dedicated primarily to fighting in tight...

, heavy infantry
Heavy infantry
Heavy infantry refers to heavily armed and armoured ground troops, as opposed to medium or light infantry, in which the warriors are relatively lightly armoured. As modern infantry troops usually define their subgroups differently , 'heavy infantry' almost always is used to describe pre-gunpowder...

 and cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

. The bulk of the army was made-up of light infantry called ceithern
Kern (soldier)
A Kern was a Gaelic soldier, specifically a light infantryman in Ireland during the Middle Ages.-Linguistic roots:The word kern is an anglicisation of the Middle Irish word ceithern or ceithrenn meaning a collection of persons, particularly fighting men. An individual member is a ceithernach...

 (anglicised kern). The ceithern wandered Ireland offering their services for hire, usually carrying swords, knives, short spears, bows and shields. The cavalry was usually made-up of a chieftain and his close relatives. They usually rode without saddles but wore armour and helmets and wielded swords, knives and long spears. One type of Irish cavalry was the hobelar
Hobelar
Hobelars were a type of light cavalry, or mounted infantry, during the Middle Ages, used for skirmishing. They originated in 13th century Ireland, and generally rode hobbies, a type of light and agile horse.-Origins:...

. The heavy infantry were the gallóglaigh
Gallowglass
The gallowglass or galloglass – from , gallóglach – were an elite class of mercenary warrior who came from Norse-Gaelic clans in the Hebrides and Highlands of Scotland between the mid 13th century and late 16th century...

 (anglicised gallowglass). They were originally Scottish mercenaries who appeared in the 13th century, but by the 15th century most large túatha had their own hereditary force of gallóglaigh. They usually wore chainmail
Mail (armour)
Mail is a type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh.-History:Mail was a highly successful type of armour and was used by nearly every metalworking culture....

 and helmets and wielded claymore
Claymore
The term claymore refers to the Scottish variant of the late medieval longsword, two-handed swords with a cross hilt, of which the guards were in use during the 15th and 16th centuries.-Terminology:...

s and axes. The gallóglaigh provided the retreating plunderers with a "moving line of defence from which the horsemen could make short, sharp charges, and behind which they could retreat when pursued". As their armour made them less mobile, they were sometimes planted at strategic spots along the line of retreat. Both the horsemen and gallóglaigh had servants to carry their weapons into battle.

Warriors were sometimes rallied into battle accompanied by blowing horn
Blowing horn
The blowing horn or winding horn is a sound device by and large shaped like a horn or actually a cattle or other animal horn arranged to blow from a hole in the pointed end of it...

s and warpipes
Great Irish Warpipes
The Great Irish Warpipes are an instrument that in modern practice is identical, and historically was analogous or identical to the Great Highland Bagpipe. "Warpipes" is an English term; The first use of the Gaelic term in Ireland is recorded in a poem by John O'Naughton , in which the bagpipes...

. Gaius Julius Solinus
Gaius Julius Solinus
Gaius Julius Solinus, Latin grammarian and compiler, probably flourished in the early third century. Historical scholar Theodor Mommsen dates him to the middle of the third century....

 wrote (in the 2nd century) that the pagan Irish besmeared their faces with the blood of the slain to frighten their enemies. According to Gerald de Barri (in the 12th century), they did not wear armour, as they deemed it cumbersome to wear and "brave and honourable" to fight without it. Instead, most ordinary soldiers fought semi-naked and carried only their weapons and a small round shield—Spenser wrote that these shields were covered with leather and painted in bright colours. Chieftains sometimes went into battle wearing helmets or headpieces adorned with eagle feathers. For ordinary soldiers, their thick hair often served as a helmet, but they sometimes wore simple helmets made from animal hides.

Gaelic warriors (and Celtic warriors in general) had a reputation as head hunters
Headhunting
Headhunting is the practice of taking a person's head after killing them. Headhunting was practised in historic times in parts of China, India, Nigeria, Nuristan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Borneo, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Micronesia, Melanesia, New Zealand, and the Amazon Basin, as...

. Ancient Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 and Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 recorded the Celtic custom of beheading their enemies and publicly displaying the severed heads (for example by hanging them from the necks of horses). According to Paul Jacobsthal
Paul Jacobsthal
Paul Jacobsthal was a scholar of Greek vase painting and Celtic art. He wrote his dissertation at the University of Bonn under the supervision of Georg Loeschcke...

, "Amongst the Celts the human head was venerated above all else, since the head was to the Celt the soul, centre of the emotions, as well as of life itself".

Visual art



Artwork from Ireland's Gaelic period appears on pottery
Pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

, jewelry
Jewellery
Jewellery or jewelry is a form of personal adornment, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.With some exceptions, such as medical alert bracelets or military dog tags, jewellery normally differs from other items of personal adornment in that it has no other purpose than to...

, weapon
Weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

s, drinkware, tableware
Tableware
Tableware is the dishes or dishware , dinnerware , or china used for setting a table, serving food, and for dining. Tableware can be meant to include flatware and glassware...

, stone carving
Stone carving
Stone carving is an ancient activity where pieces of rough natural stone are shaped by the controlled removal of stone. Owing to the permanence of the material, evidence can be found that even the earliest societies indulged in some form of stone work....

s and illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s. Like other types of Celtic art
Celtic art
Celtic art is the art associated with the peoples known as Celts; those who spoke the Celtic languages in Europe from pre-history through to the modern period, as well as the art of ancient peoples whose language is uncertain, but have cultural and stylistic similarities with speakers of Celtic...

, Irish art from about 300 BC forms part of the wider La Tène art
La Tène culture
The La Tène culture was a European Iron Age culture named after the archaeological site of La Tène on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, where a rich cache of artifacts was discovered by Hansli Kopp in 1857....

 style, which developed in west central Europe. By around 600 AD, after the Christianization of Ireland had begun, a style combining Celtic, Mediterranean and Germanic Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon art
Anglo-Saxon art covers art produced within the Anglo-Saxon period of English history, beginning with the Migration period style that the Anglo-Saxons brought with them from the continent in the 5th century, and ending in 1066 with the Norman Conquest of a large Anglo-Saxon nation-state whose...

 elements emerged, and was spread widely to Britain and the Continent by the Hiberno-Scottish mission
Hiberno-Scottish mission
The Hiberno-Scottish mission was a mission led by Irish and Scottish monks which spread Christianity and established monasteries in Great Britain and continental Europe during the Middle Ages...

. This is known as Insular art
Insular art
Insular art, also known as Hiberno-Saxon art, is the style of art produced in the post-Roman history of Ireland and Great Britain. The term derives from insula, the Latin term for "island"; in this period Britain and Ireland shared a largely common style different from that of the rest of Europe...

 or Hiberno-Saxon art, which continued in some form in Ireland until the 12th century, although the Viking invasions ended its "Golden Age". Most surviving works of Insular art were either created by monks or created for use by the monasteries, with the exception of Celtic brooch
Celtic brooch
The Celtic brooch, more properly called the penannular brooch, and its closely related type, the pseudo-penannular brooch, are types of brooch clothes fasteners, often rather large...

es, which were probably made and used by both clergy and laity. Examples of Insular art from Ireland include the Book of Kells
Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created by Celtic monks ca. 800 or slightly earlier...

, Muiredach's High Cross
Muiredach's High Cross
Muiredach's High Cross is a high cross from the 10th or possibly 9th century, located at the ruined monastic site of Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland. There are two other high crosses at Monasterboice; in local terms Muiredach's cross is also known as the South Cross...

, the Tara Brooch
Tara Brooch
The Tara Brooch is a Celtic brooch of about 700 AD generally considered to be the most impressive of over 50 elaborate Irish brooches to have been discovered...

, the Ardagh Hoard  the Derrynaflan Chalice
Derrynaflan Chalice
The Derrynaflan Chalice is an 8th- or 9th-century chalice, that was found as part of the Derrynaflan Hoard of five liturgical vessels. The discovery was made on 17 February 1980 near Killenaule, South Tipperary in Ireland...

, and the late Cross of Cong
Cross of Cong
The Cross of Cong is an early 12th century Irish Christian ornamented cusped processional cross, which was, as an inscription says, made for Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair , King of Connacht and High King of Ireland to donate to the Cathedral church of the period that was located at Tuam, County...

, which also uses Viking styles.




Music and dance


Although Gerald de Barri had a negative view of the Irish, in Topographia Hibernica (1188) he conceded that they were more skilled at playing music than any other nation he had seen. He claimed that the two main instruments were the "harp
Harp
The harp is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the soundboard. Organologically, it is in the general category of chordophones and has its own sub category . All harps have a neck, resonator and strings...

" and "tabor
Tabor (instrument)
Tabor, or tabret, refers to a portable snare drum played with one hand. The word "tabor" is simply an English variant of a Latin-derived word meaning "drum" - cf. tambour , tamburo...

" (see bodhrán
Bodhrán
The bodhrán is an Irish frame drum ranging from 25 to 65 cm in diameter, with most drums measuring 35 to 45 cm . The sides of the drum are 9 to 20 cm deep. A goatskin head is tacked to one side...

), that their music was fast and lively, and that their songs always began and ended with B-flat. In A History of Irish Music (1905), W. H. Grattan Flood
W. H. Grattan Flood
Chevalier William Henry Grattan Flood , renowned musicologist and historian, was born in Lismore in 1857. As a writer and ecclesiastical composer, his personal contributions to Irish musical form produced enduring works. As an historian his output was prolific on topics of local and national...

 wrote that there were at least ten instruments in general use by the Gaelic Irish. These were the cruit (a small harp) and clairseach
Clàrsach
Clàrsach or Cláirseach , is the generic Gaelic word for 'a harp', as derived from Middle Irish...

 (a bigger harp with typically 30 strings), the timpan (a small string instrument
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

 played with a bow
Bow (music)
In music, a bow is moved across some part of a musical instrument, causing vibration which the instrument emits as sound. The vast majority of bows are used with string instruments, although some bows are used with musical saws and other bowed idiophones....

 or plectrum
Plectrum
A plectrum is a small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument. For hand-held instruments such as guitars and mandolins, the plectrum is often called a pick, and is a separate tool held in the player's hand...

), the feadan (a fife
Fife (musical instrument)
A fife is a small, high-pitched, transverse flute that is similar to the piccolo, but louder and shriller due to its narrower bore. The fife originated in medieval Europe and is often used in military and marching bands. Someone who plays the fife is called a fifer...

), the buinne (an oboe
Oboe
The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

 or flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

), the guthbuinne (a bassoon
Bassoon
The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor registers, and occasionally higher. Appearing in its modern form in the 19th century, the bassoon figures prominently in orchestral, concert band and chamber music literature...

-type horn
Horn (instrument)
The horn is a brass instrument consisting of about of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. A musician who plays the horn is called a horn player ....

), the bennbuabhal and corn (hornpipes
Hornpipe (musical instrument)
The hornpipe can refer to a specific instrument or a class of woodwind instruments consisting of a single reed, a small diameter melody pipe with finger holes and a bell traditionally made from animal horn...

), the cuislenna (bagpipes
Bagpipes
Bagpipes are a class of musical instrument, aerophones, using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. Though the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe and Irish uilleann pipes have the greatest international visibility, bagpipes of many different types come from...

 - see Great Irish Warpipes
Great Irish Warpipes
The Great Irish Warpipes are an instrument that in modern practice is identical, and historically was analogous or identical to the Great Highland Bagpipe. "Warpipes" is an English term; The first use of the Gaelic term in Ireland is recorded in a poem by John O'Naughton , in which the bagpipes...

), the stoc and sturgan (clarion
Clarion (instrument)
Clarion is a common name for a trumpet in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It also is used as a name for a 4' organ reed stop. There is wide confusion over whether clarion invariably refers to a type of trumpet or simply the upper register of the standard trumpet....

s or trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

s), and the cnamha (castanets). There is also evidence of the fiddle
Fiddle
The term fiddle may refer to any bowed string musical instrument, most often the violin. It is also a colloquial term for the instrument used by players in all genres, including classical music...

 being used in the 8th century.

Assemblies



As mentioned previously, Gaelic Ireland was divided into a large number of clann territories and kingdoms which were called túath (plural: túatha). Although there was no central 'government' or 'parliament', a number of local, regional and national assemblies were held. These combined features of assemblies
Popular assembly
A popular or people's assembly is a gathering called to address issues of importance to participants. Assemblies tend to be freely open to participation and operate by direct democracy...

 and fair
Fair
A fair or fayre is a gathering of people to display or trade produce or other goods, to parade or display animals and often to enjoy associated carnival or funfair entertainment. It is normally of the essence of a fair that it is temporary; some last only an afternoon while others may ten weeks. ...

s.

In Ireland the highest of these was the feis
Féis
A Feis or Fèis is a traditional Gaelic arts and culture festival. The plural forms are feiseanna and fèisean .-History:In Ancient Ireland communities placed great importance on local festivals, where Gaels could come together in song, dance, music, theatre and sport...

 at Tara
Hill of Tara
The Hill of Tara , located near the River Boyne, is an archaeological complex that runs between Navan and Dunshaughlin in County Meath, Leinster, Ireland...

, which occurred every third Samhain
Samhain
Samhain is a Gaelic harvest festival held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularised as the "Celtic New Year" from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer...

. This was an assembly of the leading men of the whole island — kings, lords, chieftains, druids, judges etc. Below this was the óenach
Óenach
The Óenach, usually translated fair or assembly, was an annual gathering in Ireland which combined features of the popular assembly and fair. As well as the entertainment, the óenach was an occasion on which kings and notables met under truce and where laws were pronounced and confirmed.The most...

 or aenach. These were regional or provincial assemblies open to everyone. Examples include that held at Taillten
Taillten Fair
The Taillten Fair was an annual event held in medieval times at Telltown, County Meath, Ireland. The fair was a survival or revival of the Áenach Tailteann, the assembly and funeral games for the goddess Tailtiu, and was held on Lughnasadh, aka Lammas Eve, .For a period of time in the twentieth...

 each Lughnasadh
Lughnasadh
Lughnasadh is a traditional Gaelic holiday celebrated on 1 August. It is in origin a harvest festival, corresponding to the Welsh Calan Awst and the English Lammas.-Name:...

, and that held at Uisnech
Uisnech
The Hill of Uisneach, or Ushnagh, also Uisnech , formerly regarded as the centre of Ireland, is a historical site in County Westmeath . The 182 metre hill lies on the north side of the R390 road, 8 km east of the village of Ballymore, beside the village of Loughanavally...

 each Beltaine. The main purpose of these assemblies was to promulgate and reaffirm the laws — they were read aloud in public that they might not be forgotten, and any changes in them carefully explained to those present.

Each túath or clann had two assemblies of its own. These were the cuirmtig, which was open to all clann members, and the dal (a term later adopted for the Irish parliament - see Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

), which was open only to clann chiefs. Each clann had an additional assembly called a tocomra, in which the clann chief (toísech) and his deputy/successor (tanaiste) were elected.

List of clanna, túatha and kings

  • List of clanna
  • List of túatha
  • List of kings

Invasion




Ireland became Christianized
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 between the 5th and 7th centuries. Pope Adrian IV, the only English pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, had already issued a Papal Bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

 in 1155 giving Henry II of England
Henry II of England
Henry II ruled as King of England , Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the...

 authority to invade Ireland as a means of curbing Irish refusal to recognize Roman law. Importantly, for later English monarchs, the Bull, Laudabiliter
Laudabiliter
Laudabiliter was a papal bull issued in 1155 by Adrian IV, the only Englishman to serve as Pope, giving the Angevin King Henry II of England the right to assume control over Ireland and apply the Gregorian Reforms in the Irish church...

, maintained papal suzerainty
Suzerainty
Suzerainty occurs where a region or people is a tributary to a more powerful entity which controls its foreign affairs while allowing the tributary vassal state some limited domestic autonomy. The dominant entity in the suzerainty relationship, or the more powerful entity itself, is called a...

 over the island:
In 1166, after losing the protection of High King Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn, the King of Leinster
Leinster
Leinster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the east of Ireland. It comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Mide, Osraige and Leinster. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Mide gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled...

, Diarmait Mac Murchada, was forcibly exiled by a confederation of Irish forces under the new High King, Ruaidri mac Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair. Fleeing first to Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 and then to Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

, Diarmait obtained permission from Henry II of England
Henry II of England
Henry II ruled as King of England , Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the...

 to use his subjects to regain his kingdom. By the following year, he had obtained these services and in 1169 the main body of Norman, Welsh
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and Flemish
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 forces landed in Ireland and quickly retook Leinster and the cities of Waterford
Waterford
Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

 and Dublin on behalf of Diarmait. The leader of the Norman force, Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke , Lord of Leinster, Justiciar of Ireland . Like his father, he was also commonly known as Strongbow...

, more commonly known as Strongbow, married Diarmait's daughter, Aoife
Eva MacMurrough
Aoife MacMurrough , also known by later historians as Eva of Leinster, was the daughter of Dermot MacMurrough , King of Leinster, and his wife Mor O'Toole .-Marriage:...

, and was named tánaiste
Tanistry
Tanistry was a Gaelic system for passing on titles and lands. In this system the Tanist was the office of heir-apparent, or second-in-command, among the Gaelic patrilineal dynasties of Ireland, Scotland and Man, to succeed to the chieftainship or to the kingship.-Origins:The Tanist was chosen from...

 to the Kingdom of Leinster. This caused consternation to Henry II, who feared the establishment of a rival Norman state in Ireland. Accordingly, he resolved to visit Leinster to establish his authority.

Henry landed with in 1171, proclaiming Waterford
Waterford
Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

 and Dublin as Royal Cities
Royal cities
The term Royal City denotes a privilege that some cities in Bohemia and Moravia enjoyed during the Middle Ages. It meant the city was an inalienable part of the royal estate; the king could not sell or pledge the city. At the beginning of the 16th Century, about 40 cities enjoyed this privilege...

. Adrian's successor, Pope Alexander III
Pope Alexander III
Pope Alexander III , born Rolando of Siena, was Pope from 1159 to 1181. He is noted in history for laying the foundation stone for the Notre Dame de Paris.-Church career:...

, ratified the grant of Ireland to Henry in 1172. The 1175 Treaty of Windsor
Treaty of Windsor (1175)
The Treaty of Windsor was signed in 1175 in Windsor, Berkshire between King Henry II of England and the High King of Ireland, Rory O'Connor...

 between Henry and Ruaidhrí maintained Ruaidhrí as High King of Ireland but codified Henry's control of Leinster, Meath and Waterford. However, with Diarmuid and Strongbow dead, Henry back in England, and Ruaidhrí unable to curb his vassals, the high kingship rapidly lost control of the country. Henry, in 1185, awarded his Ireland to his younger son, John, with the title Dominus Hiberniae, "Lord of Ireland"
Lordship of Ireland
The Lordship of Ireland refers to that part of Ireland that was under the rule of the king of England, styled Lord of Ireland, between 1177 and 1541. It was created in the wake of the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169–71 and was succeeded by the Kingdom of Ireland...

. This kept the newly created title and the Kingdom of England personally and legally separate. However, when John unexpectedly succeeded his brother as King of England in 1199, the Lordship of Ireland fell back into personal union with the Kingdom of England.

Gaelic resurgence



By 1261, the weakening of the Anglo-Norman Lordship had become manifest following a string of military defeats. In the chaotic situation, local Irish lords won back large amounts of land. The invasion by Edward Bruce
Edward Bruce
Edward the Bruce , sometimes modernised Edward of Bruce, was a younger brother of King Robert I of Scotland, who supported his brother in the struggle for the crown of Scotland, then pursued his own claim in Ireland. He was proclaimed High King of Ireland, but was eventually defeated and killed in...

 in 1315-18 at a time of famine weakened the Norman economy. The Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 arrived in Ireland in 1348. Because most of the English and Norman inhabitants of Ireland lived in towns and villages, the plague hit them far harder than it did the native Irish, who lived in more dispersed rural settlements. After it had passed, Gaelic Irish language and customs came to dominate the country again. The English-controlled area shrank back to the Pale
The Pale
The Pale or the English Pale , was the part of Ireland that was directly under the control of the English government in the late Middle Ages. It had reduced by the late 15th century to an area along the east coast stretching from Dalkey, south of Dublin, to the garrison town of Dundalk...

, a fortified area around Dublin. Outside the Pale, the Hiberno-Norman
Hiberno-Norman
The Hiberno-Normans are those Norman lords who settled in Ireland who admitted little if any real fealty to the Anglo-Norman settlers in England, and who soon began to interact and intermarry with the Gaelic nobility of Ireland. The term embraces both their origins as a distinct community with...

 lords intermarried with Gaelic noble families, adopted the Irish language and customs and sided with the Gaelic Irish in political and military conflicts against the Lordship. They became known as the Old English
Old English (Ireland)
The Old English were the descendants of the settlers who came to Ireland from Wales, Normandy, and England after the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169–71. Many of the Old English became assimilated into Irish society over the centuries...

, and in the words of a contemporary English commentator, were "more Irish than the Irish themselves
More Irish than the Irish themselves
"More Irish than the Irish themselves" is a phrase used in Irish historiography to describe a phenomenon of cultural assimilation in late medieval Norman Ireland....

."

The authorities in the Pale worried about the "Gaelicisation" of Norman Ireland, and passed the Statutes of Kilkenny
Statutes of Kilkenny
The Statutes of Kilkenny were a series of thirty-five acts passed at Kilkenny in 1366, aiming to curb the decline of the Hiberno-Norman Lordship of Ireland.-Background to the Statutes:...

 in 1366 banning those of English descent from speaking the Irish language
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

, wearing Irish clothes or inter-marrying with the Irish. The government in Dublin had little real authority. By the end of the fifteenth century, central English authority in Ireland had all but disappeared. England's attentions were diverted by the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 (1337–1453) and then by the Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York...

 (1450–85). Around the country, local Gaelic and Gaelicised lords expanded their powers at the expense of the English government in Dublin.

Gaelic kingdoms during the period


Following the failed attempt by the Scottish King Edward Bruce
Edward Bruce
Edward the Bruce , sometimes modernised Edward of Bruce, was a younger brother of King Robert I of Scotland, who supported his brother in the struggle for the crown of Scotland, then pursued his own claim in Ireland. He was proclaimed High King of Ireland, but was eventually defeated and killed in...

 (see Irish Bruce Wars 1315–1318) to drive the Normans out of Ireland, there emerged a number of important Gaelic kingdoms and Gaelic-controlled lordships.
  • Connacht
    Connacht
    Connacht , formerly anglicised as Connaught, is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the west of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for...

    . The Ó Conchobhair dynasty, despite their setback during the Bruce wars, had regrouped and ensured that the title King of Connacht
    Kings of Connacht
    The Kings of Connacht were rulers of the cóiced of Connacht, which lies west of the River Shannon, Ireland. However, the name only became applied to it in the early medieval era, being named after The Connachta.The old name for the province was Cóiced Ol nEchmacht . Ptolemy's map of c. 150 AD...

     was not yet an empty one. Their stronghold was in their homeland of Sil Muirdeag, from where they dominated much of northern and northeastern Connacht. However, after the death of Ruaidri mac Tairdelbach Ua Conchobair
    Ruaidri mac Tairdelbach Ua Conchobair
    Ruaidri mac Tairdelbach Ua Conchobair, King of Connacht, died 1384.The Annals of the Four Masters say of him:"Rory, the son of Turlough O'Conor, King of Connaught, died of the plague on the night of St...

     in 1384, the dynasty split into two factions, Ó Conchobhair Don
    O'Conor Don
    The Ó Conchubhair Donn is the hereditary Prince and Chief of the Name of the Royal Family of Connacht, the Clan Ó Conchubhair.-Overview:...

     and Ó Conchobhair Ruadh. By the late 15th century, internecine warfare between the two branches had weakened them to the point where they themselves became vassals of more powerful lords such as Ó Domhnaill of Tír Chonaill and the Clan Burke
    Clan Burke
    The House of Burke is the name given to the clan of the Norman-Irish family of de Burgh also known as 'de Burgo' ....

     of Clanricarde
    Clanricarde
    Clanricarde was a term meaning both a territory and a title in Ireland between the 13th and early 20th centuries.-Territory:The territory, in what is now County Galway, Ireland, stretched from the barony of County Clare in the north-west along the borders of County Mayo, to the River Shannon in the...

    . The Mac Diarmata Kings of Moylurg
    Kings of Moylurg
    The Kings of Magh Luirg or Moylurg were a branch of the Síol Muireadaigh, and a kindred family to the Ua Conchobair Kings of Connacht. Their ancestor, Maelruanaidh Mor mac Tadg, was a brother to Conchobar mac Tadg, King of Connacht 967-973, ancestor of the O Connor family of Connacht...

     retained their status and kingdom during this era, up to the death of Tadhg Mac Diarmata in 1585 (last de facto King of Moylurg). Their cousins, the Mac Donnacha of Tír Ailella, found their fortunes bound to the Ó Conchobhair Ruadh. The kingdom of Uí Maine had lost much of its southern and western lands to the Clanricardes, but managed to flourish until repeated raids by Ó Domhnaill in the early 16th century weakened it. Other territories such as Ó Flaithbeheraigh
    O'Flaherty
    Ó Flaithbertaigh, Gaelic-Irish surname, anglicized as O'Flaherty-Overview:This Gaelic-Irish surname is written as "Ua Flaithbertach" or "Ua Flaithbertaig" in Old Irish and Middle Irish texts....

     of Iar Connacht
    Iar Connacht
    Iar Chonnachta , was a region covering all of County Galway west of the river Corrib and Lough Corrib; Maigh Seola; and part of the barony of Ross in County Mayo.-Description:The area of Co...

    , Ó Seachnasaigh
    O'Shaughnessy
    Ó Seachnasaigh, O'Shaughnessy, collectively Uí Sheachnasaigh, clan name Cinél nAedha na hEchtghe, is a family surname of Irish origin.The name is found primarily in County Galway and County Limerick...

     of Aidhne
    Aidhne
    Aidhne also known as, Uí Fhiachrach Aidhne, Maigh Aidhne / Maigh nAidhne was the territory of the Ui Fiachrach Aidhne, a tuath located in the south of what is now County Galway in the south of Connacht, Ireland. Aidhne is coextensive with the present diocese of Kilmacduagh...

    , O'Dowd of Tireagh, O'Hara, Ó Gadhra
    Ó Gadhra
    Ó Gadhra or O'Gara is an Irish surname which originated in the kingdom of Luighne Connacht.-Background:The first O'Gara's were descendants of the Gailenga people...

     and Ó Maddan, either survived in isolation or were vassals for greater men.

  • Ulster
    Ulster
    Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

    : The Ulaid
    Ulaid
    The Ulaid or Ulaidh were a people of early Ireland who gave their name to the modern province of Ulster...

     proper were in a sorry state all during this era, being squeezed between the emergent Ó Neill
    Uí Néill
    The Uí Néill are Irish and Scottish dynasties who claim descent from Niall Noigiallach , an historical King of Tara who died about 405....

     of Tír Eógain
    Kings of Tir Eogain
    This article lists the Kings of Tír Eoghain or Tyrone from 1185 to 1616. They are listed from their date of accession to date of death, unless otherwise stated....

     in the west, the MacDonnells, Clann Aodha Buidhe, and the Anglo-Normans from the east. Only Mag Aonghusa managed to retain a portion of their former kingdom with expansion into Iveagh. The two great success stories of this era were Ó Domhnaill of Tír Chonaill and Ó Neill of Tír Eógain. Ó Domhnaill was able to dominate much of northern Connacht to the detriment of its native lords, both Old English
    Old English (Ireland)
    The Old English were the descendants of the settlers who came to Ireland from Wales, Normandy, and England after the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169–71. Many of the Old English became assimilated into Irish society over the centuries...

     and Gaelic, though it took time to suborn the likes of Ó Conchobhair Sligigh
    O Connor Sligo
    Ó Conchobhair Sligigh , Gaelic-Irish family and Chief of the Name.The Ó Conchobhair Sligigh were a branch of the Ó Conchobhair Kings of Connacht....

     and Ó Ruairc of Iar Breifne
    East Breifne
    East Breifne was an historic kingdom of Ireland roughly corresponding to County Cavan....

    . Expansion southwards brought the hegemony of Tír Eógain, and by extension Ó Neill influence, well into the border lordships of Louth
    County Louth
    County Louth is a county of Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Louth. Louth County Council is the local authority for the county...

     and Meath
    Kingdom of Mide
    Mide , spelt Midhe in modern Irish and anglicised as Meath, was a medieval kingdom in Ireland for over 1,000 years. Its name means "middle", denoting the fact that lay in the middle of Ireland....

    . Mag Uidir of Fear Manach would slightly later be able to build his lordship up to that of third most powerful in the province, at the expense of the Ó Ruaircs of Iar Breifne and the MacMahons of Airgíalla
    Airgíalla
    Airgíalla or Airgialla was the name of an Irish federation and Irish kingdom which first formed around the 7th century...

    .

  • Leinster
    Leinster
    Leinster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the east of Ireland. It comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Mide, Osraige and Leinster. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Mide gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled...

    : Likewise, despite the adverse (and unforeseen) effects of Diarmait Mac Murchada's efforts to regain his kingdom, the fact of the matter was that, of his twenty successors up to 1632, most of them had regained much of the ground they had lost to the Normans, and exacted yearly tribute from the towns. His most dynamic successor was the celebrated Art mac Art MacMurrough-Kavanagh
    Art mac Art MacMurrough-Kavanagh
    Art Mór Mac Murchadha Caomhánach is generally regarded as the most formidable of the later Kings of Leinster. He revived not only the royal family's prerogatives but their lands and power...

    . The Ó Brioin and Ó Tuathail
    O'Toole (family)
    The O'Tooles of Leinster, one of the leading families of that province, are descended from Tuathal mac Augaire, King of Leinster , who belonged to the Uí Dúnlainge dynasty...

     largely contented themselves with raids on Dublin (which, incredibly, continued into the 18th century). The Ó Mordha of Laois and Ó Conchobhair Falaighe of Offaly - the latter's capital was Daingean
    Daingean
    Daingean , formerly Philipstown, is a small town in east County Offaly, Ireland. It is situated midway between the towns of Tullamore and Edenderry on the R402 regional road. The town or townland of Daingean has a population of 777 while the District Electoral Division has a total population of...

     - were two self-contained territories that had earned the right to be called kingdoms due to their near-invincibility against successive generations of Anglo-Irish. The great losers were the Ó Melaghlins of Meath: their kingdom had collapsed, and despite the near-superhuman martial prowess of Cormac mac Art O Melaghlain
    Cormac mac Art O Melaghlain
    Cormac mac Art Ó Melaghlain, was King of Mide from about 1205 to 1239. He was acknowledged as one of the most ferocious and formidable opponents of the Normans since their arrival in Ireland...

    , the royal family were now reduced to vassal status, clinging to the east shores of the River Shannon
    River Shannon
    The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland at . It divides the west of Ireland from the east and south . County Clare, being west of the Shannon but part of the province of Munster, is the major exception...

    . Meath itself ceased to be a separate province and was henceforth incorporated into Leinster, reducing Ireland's provinces to four.

  • Munster
    Munster
    Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

    :
    • Desmond: See Kingdom of Desmond, Barony of Carbery
      Barony of Carbery
      Carbery, or the Barony of Carbery, was once the largest barony in Ireland, and essentially a small, semi-independent kingdom on the southwestern coast of Munster, in what is now County Cork, from its founding in the 1230s by Donal Gott MacCarthy to its gradual decline in the late 16th and early...

      , Battle of Callann
      Battle of Callann
      The Battle of Callann was fought in 1261 between the Normans, under John FitzGerald, 1st Baron Desmond, and the Gaelic forces of Fínghin Mac Carthaigh, King of Desmond, ancestor of the MacCarthy Reagh dynasty. MacCarthy was victorious...

    • Thomond: Despite huge setbacks, the descendants of Brian Bóruma
      Brian Boru
      Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig, , , was an Irish king who ended the domination of the High Kingship of Ireland by the Uí Néill. Building on the achievements of his father, Cennétig mac Lorcain, and especially his elder brother, Mathgamain, Brian first made himself King of Munster, then subjugated...

       had, by surviving the Second Battle of Athenry
      Second Battle of Athenry
      The Second Battle of Athenry took place at Athenry in Ireland on 10 August 1316 during the Bruce campaign in Ireland.-Overview:The collective number of both armies are unknown, and can only be estimated. Martyn believes the royal army to have been as much as or more than a thousand, while that of...

       and winning the decisive battles of Corcomroe
      Corcomroe
      Corcomroe is the anglicised form of the tuath of Corco Modhruadh in the north of County Clare on the west coast of Ireland. It is also the name of the obsolete barony which covers the south-western half of this tuath...

       and Dysert O'Dea
      Battle of Dysert O'Dea
      The Battle of Dysert O'Dea took place on 10 May 1318 at Dysert O'Dea near Corofin, Ireland. It was part of the Bruce campaign in Ireland. The Norman Richard de Clare attacked the Gaelic Irish chieftain Conchobhar Ó Deághaidh, chief of the Cineal Fearmaic and ally of Muirchertach Ó Briain, but he...

      , been able to suborn their vassals and eradicate the Normans from their home kingdom of Thomond
      Thomond
      Thomond The region of Ireland associated with the name Thomond is County Clare, County Limerick and north County Tipperary; effectively most of north Munster. The name is used by a variety of establishments and organisations located in , or associated with the region...

      . Their spheres of interest often met with conflict with Anglo-Normans such as the Earls of Desmond
      Earl of Desmond
      The title of Earl of Desmond has been held historically by lords in Ireland, first as a title outside of the peerage system and later as part of the Peerage of Ireland....

       and Earls of Ormond, yet they ruled right up to the end of Gaelic Ireland, and beyond, by expedient of becoming the O'Brien Earls of Thomond
      Earl of Thomond
      "Earl of Thomond" was a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created twice for the family of Ó Briain. The O'Brien dynasty were an ancient Irish sept native to north Munster....

      .

Tudor conquest



From 1536, Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 decided to conquer Ireland and bring it under English control. The FitzGerald dynasty of Kildare
Kildare
-External links:*******...

, who had become the effective rulers of the Lordship of Ireland (The Pale
The Pale
The Pale or the English Pale , was the part of Ireland that was directly under the control of the English government in the late Middle Ages. It had reduced by the late 15th century to an area along the east coast stretching from Dalkey, south of Dublin, to the garrison town of Dundalk...

) in the 15th century, had become unreliable allies and Henry resolved to bring Ireland under English government control so the island would not become a base for future rebellions or foreign invasions of England. To involve the Gaelic nobility
Irish nobility
This article concerns the Gaelic nobility of Ireland from ancient to modern times. It only partly overlaps with Chiefs of the Name because it excludes Scotland and other discussion...

 and allow them to retain their lands under English law the policy of surrender and regrant
Surrender and regrant
During the Tudor conquest of Ireland , "surrender and regrant" was the legal mechanism by which Irish clans were to be converted from a power structure rooted in clan and kin loyalties, to a late-feudal system under the English legal system...

 was applied.

In 1541, Henry upgraded Ireland from a lordship to a full kingdom
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

, partly in response to changing relationships with the papacy, which still had suzerainty over Ireland, following Henry's break with the church. Henry was proclaimed King of Ireland at a meeting of the Irish Parliament that year. This was the first meeting of the Irish Parliament to be attended by the Gaelic Irish princes as well as the Hiberno-Norman
Hiberno-Norman
The Hiberno-Normans are those Norman lords who settled in Ireland who admitted little if any real fealty to the Anglo-Norman settlers in England, and who soon began to interact and intermarry with the Gaelic nobility of Ireland. The term embraces both their origins as a distinct community with...

 aristocracy.

With the technical institutions of government in place, the next step was to extend the control of the Kingdom of Ireland over all of its claimed territory. This took nearly a century, with various English administrations in the process either negotiating or fighting with the independent Irish and Old English lords. The conquest was completed during the reigns of Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 and James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

, after several bloody conflicts.

The flight into exile in 1607 of Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone and Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell
Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell
Rudhraighe Ó Domhnaill, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell was the last King of Tír Chonaill . An apparent original of the Letters Patent of the Earldom are in the possession of Graf O'Donell von Tyrconnell in Austria, although that family did not inherit the title, nor the related territorial Lordship of...

 following their defeat at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 and the suppression of their rebellion in Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

 in 1603 is seen as the watershed of Gaelic Ireland. It marked the destruction of Ireland's ancient Gaelic nobility
Irish nobility
This article concerns the Gaelic nobility of Ireland from ancient to modern times. It only partly overlaps with Chiefs of the Name because it excludes Scotland and other discussion...

 following the Tudor conquest and cleared the way for the Plantation of Ulster
Plantation of Ulster
The Plantation of Ulster was the organised colonisation of Ulster—a province of Ireland—by people from Great Britain. Private plantation by wealthy landowners began in 1606, while official plantation controlled by King James I of England and VI of Scotland began in 1609...

. After this point, the English authorities in Dublin established real control over Ireland for the first time, bringing a centralised government to the entire island, and successfully disarmed the Gaelic lordships.