Admittedly, this is a misunderstanding of the Brehon Law
but it highlights the challenge Johnston posed to the common law and the Crown's authority.
In effect, he creatively concocts ever shifting versions of "justice" by warping ancient patriarchal principles and precedents of Brehon Law
through maneuvers that position himself as final authority or breitheamh.
Kleefeld, From Brouhahas to Brehon Laws: Poetic Impulse in the Law, 4 LAW & HUMANITIES 21, 51 (2010) ("[F]or the law of nature reached many things which the law of scripture did not reach." (quoting from the SENCHAS MAR)); M.
(39) Writing around 1188, Gerald Cambrensis, a Cambrio-Norman clerk and chaplain to King Henry II of England, described Native Irish culture's influence on new arrivals: "[E]ven strangers who land here from other countries become generally imbued with this natural crime, which seems to be innate and very contagious." GERALD CAMBRENSIS, THE HISTORY AND TOPOGRAPHY OF IRELAND 77 (Thomas Wright ed., Thomas Forester trans., 2000); see also Quinn, supra note 38 at 368 n.15 ("[M]any English settlers began adopting the habits and customs of the Gaelic people."); Gorman, supra note 30, at 221 ("Even the English settlers outside of the Pale had adopted the Brehon laws, and great Anglo-Saxon lords in Ireland kept Brehons in their service like the Irish chiefs.").
It examines speech offenses in Brehon law, illustrating the long tradition of regulating speech in Ireland, and also traces the subsequent development of blasphemy through Canon law, common law, and modern Irish law.
In the 1600s the Gaelic aristocrats left Ireland, never to return, leading to the loss of the Brehon Laws
and the experiment of a Protestant plantation in Northern Ireland.
"The Irish who would have been living under Brehon Law were actually very forward thinking.
"However when you are dealing with Brehon Law it is fair to say that the ancient Irish were very advanced compared to a lot of their European counterparts.
In Ireland, the government commissioned editors to translate and publish the traditional Irish Brehon laws in volumes that came out in 1865, 1869, and 1874.
When Maine turns his attention to the Irish Brehon laws in 1875, he seems in his writing to have imbibed a tendency to write of Ireland as oddly exempt from the conquest that makes up its history in the last millennium.
Roman law, abstract and deductive, with what Leibnitz saw as a geometric perfection, should be leavened with indigenous Brehon law, inductive and arithmetic, and suitable to a society where social ties were personal rather than civil.
Law in Ireland claimed such transcendence, but it was English law, an imperial imposition on a colony which itself had an ancient system of law, the Brehon law, though this was disparaged as not civilized law but merely barbaric custom.