Under the Brehon laws
, land was owned by the clan and not by any one individual (or at least the clan retained a say in the land farmed by individuals), (61) and the same rules applied to govern access to Ireland's fisheries.
The old Brehon Laws
are the only laws that matter....
was a custom-based legal system brought to Ireland by the Celts as early as 1200 B.C.E.
It marks a concerted effort to create an image of the Irish as participants in a post-Trent European polity in which their nobility and honor is no longer determined chiefly by martial valor, nor praised using terms derived from Brehon law
. Rather, it is also constructed in part by adherence on the part of the Irish elites to a proper reformed Catholicism, and by their respect for rigid social hierarchy.
The translation, transcription, and publication of Brehon law
added to the debate.
"The Irish who would have been living under Brehon Law
were actually very forward thinking.
Davies too, in contrasting the strength of the English common law when compared with the Irish Brehon law
whose systematic suppression he masterminded, argued that no kingdom in the world could claim law "so venerable for their antiquity" as were the British laws--not even "the law of the Romans, which are cried up beyond all others for their antiquity" (qtd.
Baker bases his reading of the View in part on the feelings of Irenaeus, the speaker with first-hand knowledge of Ireland, who was frustrated that English Common Law was being mixed with Brehon law
to the advantage of the Irish and the detriment of the English settlers.
to give laws unto a people; to institute magistrates and officers over them; to punish and pardon malefactors; to have the sole authority of making war and peace, and the like, are the true marks of sovereignty, which Henry II had not in the Irish countries, but the Irish lords did still retain all these prerogatives to themselves." (38) The native Irish lords had continued to govern themselves according to Brehon law
, to appoint their own magistrates, to pardon and punish wrong doers, and to make war and peace on each other "without any controlment." (39) They were, at best tributaries and not subjects and vassals of the English king because they continued to exercise the rights and marks of sovereignty independently from the English crown.
Irish lawyers Pat Daly and Ronan Munro, Australian lawyer Shaun Kerrigan and lawyers from the Brehon Law
Society in New York, Frank Durkan and Cody McCone will join them.
Davies makes it clear that in many parts of Ireland, brehon law
remained largely operative after the arrival of the English, a conclusion generally agreed with by modern historians.