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Ireland Used To Have Some Very Strange Old Laws

Ireland Used To Have Some Very Strange Old Laws

A recent Vice video made light of some of the weirdest laws in effect in the UK, the highlight being "handling a salmon in suspicious circumstances. Ireland has its share of weird old laws too, and here are some of the best.

Until 2015, eating porridge or potatoes in Ireland was illegal for anyone outside of the "lower orders" or working class. This law was a straggler from an 1817 proclamation. Between 2003 and 2016, the Irish government repealed around 60,000 archaic laws, many of which were carried over from British rule.

A Waterford blaa can legally only be called a 'blaa' if it's baked in Waterford. For the uninitiated, a blaa is a floury bap indigenous to Waterford.

Irish lawmakers took preventative measures to keep the Bubonic Plague at bay by enacting a law stating that the first Wednesday of every month was for fasting and penance for the relief of the Bubonic Plague.

The officer of the Ministry, duly authorised by the Ministry in that behalf either generally or in respect of a particular occasion, shall have power to examine eggs in transit. Better make sure your eggs are up to code!

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Things were really wild in the Brehon law days however.

  • Harpists were the only noble musicians. Flute players, trumpet players, and timpanists had no status
  • The price for the best farmland was 24 cows. If the land wasn't great, it was 12 cows.
  • A husband and wife may walk away from marriage on the first of February
  • A husband who through listlessness does not go to his wife in her bed must pay a fine.
  • If a pregnant woman craves a morsel of food and her husband withholds it though stinginess or neglect he must pay a fine.
  • When you become old your family must provide you with one oatcake a day plus a container of sour milk. They must bathe you every 20th night and wash your head every Saturday. Seventeen sticks of firewood is the allotment for keeping you warm.
  • A layman may drink six pints of ale with his dinner but a monk my drink only three pints. This is so he will not be intoxicated when prayer-time arrives.

So many strange old laws, most of which related to food and alcohol.

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Joe O'Gorman

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