The History Show Sunday 28 April 2013
Marriage in Medieval Ireland by Gillian Kenny
In Gaelic Ireland during the medieval period the laws and practices surrounding marriage were secular in nature. People didn't get married in Church, marriage was a civil contract between two individuals (representing their family interests) and it was celebrated with a feast and then that was that.
Divorce was common, illegitimacy was an unknown concept (no idea of bastardy as it would have been understood elsewhere) and the lawyers tried to make allowances for all types of unions so they listed 9 different types of legal union which people could engage in. These lawyers formulated the legal code known as the Brehon Laws and the laws were first committed to paper in about the 8th century and were adhered to for the rest of the middle ages.
Women could control the wealth they brought with them to their marital contract and this enabled married women to have a real say in how family life and finances were managed. Some women's wealth consisted of soldiers and there are accounts of women leading those soldiers into battle. Other women patronised cultural pursuits such as poetry and also became noted builders of churches. Women could act quite independently as wives which is remarkable considering the times.
Women were also crucial in building up alliances with other families by becoming loving foster mothers to children who they took into their households. Fosterage was very common in medieval Ireland and the word 'Mammy' originally referred not to the birth mother (known as the Mathair) but to one's foster mother (the Muimmne - modern Mammy) with whom many children had extremely close relationships.
Of course later medieval Ireland was split between two cultures - the 'English' of Ireland and the Gaelic Irish. It is also worth maybe pointing out that, as far as I can tell, many people in 'English' Ireland also got married outside church. These were called 'clandestine' marriages and were, in fact, backed by the Catholic Church. You could marry in front of witnesses but they weren't entirely necessary and no ceremony in church was needed. This appears to have been also extremely common according to my research until the later sixteenth century.
The sacramentalisation of marriage in Ireland on a popular scale is a relatively new phenomenon and that for century after century people engaged in marriage with no reference at all to the Church. Of course all this complexity began to come to an end during the 17th century as Gaelic Ireland was wiped out as a viable and strong culture within Ireland.
Listowel Military Weekend Events
Listowel Military Weekend aims to commemorate Irish people who served in wars throughout history, most notably the American Civil War, both World Wars, and UN Peacekeeping missions. The main event of the weekend is the German ‘invasion’ of the town on the Saturday, followed by Listowel’s ‘liberation’ on the Sunday by American troops.
Programme of Events
Listowel Military, Agricultural & Vintage Weekend.
May Bank Holiday 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th.
Friday May 3rd
Meet and greet for participants at The Listowel Arms Hotel 7pm.
Followed by a lecture at 8pm by Mark McShane author of “Neutral Shores” Ireland and the battle of the Atlantic.
Venue The Seanchai Centre.
Saturday May 4th
Military exhibits and stalls in the Square from 12pm.
3pm Invasion and occupation by German forces in The Square.
4pm parade from Market Street to St John’s Arts Centre, The Square by members of The Irish Army and various Veteran Associations where a memorial plaque will be unveiled honouring Irish men & women who gave their lives in the line of duty.
Wreath laying ceremony by Ambassadors from France and Belgium & Veteran Associations.
Brief prayer service and Coast Guard helicopter flyover.
Reception after in Listowel Arms Hotel.
Irish Military Vehicle Group will have a display of vehicles in The Square.
Living History display by
American Civil War Re-enactors and also
Great photo opportunity for all the family,
Sunday May 5th
12pm to 5pm Farmers Market and Stalls,
Living History display in The Square.
Scale Model & Diorama Display in
The Listowel Arms Hotel 12pm - 5pm.
3pm Liberation battle to free Listowel with over 50 re – enactors using blank rounds, smoke bombs and flash bombs.
A loud afternoon in Listowel. .
4pm Live music and Pig on The Spit in The Square.
9pm – 1am Hangar Dance in The Listowel Arms Hotel Music by The Bombshell Belles from the UK.
This is a 1940’s themed dance with prizes for the best dressed lady, best dressed man, and couple.
Vintage and Military clothing optional.
Monday May 6th.
From 11am. Military Living History Display in The Square.
Agricultural Machinery (New and Vintage) display will take place in Market St. from 11am to 6pm.
Vintage Car Rally, gathering in The Square at 11am and leave to tour the villages of North Kerry returning to the Square at 1pm approx. Cars will be on display till 6pm.
Children’s attractions will include Bouncing Castle, Slide, Zorb Ball in a pool. Pet Farm display, Face painting, and various stalls.
BBQ and Music in the Square to finish off what we hope will be a great weekend of fun for all the family.