the medieval irish, then, mated closely and were clannish right up to at least the late-1500s.

even if the theory that close matings lead to clannishness (because they set up positive selection pressures for clannish behavioral traits) is wrong, i think it still would be important to consider, given their family types and structure of society, what sorts of selection pressures for what sorts of behavioral traits might’ve existed for the irish over the course of those ca. 1000 years — at least.

the mating patterns of the irish should’ve come into line with the rest of northwestern roman catholic europe in the 1100s when the invading normans tried to get the irish (celtic) church to follow rome’s teachings. unfortunately, the normans “went native,” and the promises made at the synod of cashel (1172) do not seem to have been enforced.

from jack goody [pgs. 44-45 -- see also previous post]:

“But as far as the family and marriage were concerned, the wishes of the Church did not always prevail and resistance was often prolonged. The difference between ‘local custom’ and ecclesiastical law is nowhere stronger than in Ireland, even as late as the Norman period. It was then, during the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, that English (or Norman) influence came to play a dominant role in reshaping the Irish Church. The archbishops of Canterbury, Lanfranc and Anselm, both protested against the Irish customs of marriage and divorce. From the seventh century Irish Church legislators had recognised only four degrees of kinship within which marriage was prohibited (and the law tracts fewer), whereas the papacy acknowledged seven…. ‘Native law’, comments Hughes (1966: 260), ‘triumphed over the stricter provisions of the church, to the disgust of the Anglo-Norman prelates, who were used to very different customs.’

“In theory, this state of affairs was altered by the first of the reforming synods, held at Cashel in 1101. However this conclave did not introduce the full requirements of the Roman Church, and, although it did forbid a man to marry his step-mother (or step-grandmother), or his sister or daughter, his brother’s wife, or any woman of similarly near kinship, it said nothing of the ‘Irish practices of concubinage and divorce.’ Even so, the legislation seems to have had little effect on social life, for some time later Pope Alexander III [pope from 1159 to 1181] was told that the Irish ‘marry their step-mothers and are not ashamed to have children by them; that a man may live with his brother’s wife while the brother is still alive; and that one many may live in concubinage with two sisters; and that many of them, putting away the mother, will marry the daughters’ (Sheehy 1962: I,21; Hughes 1966: 265).”

and, as we saw two posts ago, rome’s marriage regulations seem to have been largely ignored by the irish right up until the late 1500s.

unfortunately, i don’t know what happened next. (argh!) i know that by the 1800s the roman catholic irish did, generally, obey the church’s teachings on cousin marriage, etc., but i’m not sure what happened in the intervening centuries from the late 1500s until the 1800s. i think (i hope!) the answers lie in this book…

Marriage in Ireland (1985)

…but it’s not available anywhere online (dr*t!), and i don’t have a copy of it. one of these days, i just might have to (*gulp*) turn off my computer, temporarily sever my connection to the innnerwebs (ouch!), and move myself physically to the library. theoretically that is a possibility (so i’m given to understand), but it probably won’t happen in the next couple of weeks. so, until then, these centuries will remain a mystery!

what did obviously happen in ireland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the plantations. the new arrivals were, unlike the natives, protestants, who, except for the scots-irish, likely came from a long line of outbreeders (it would be interesting to know from where in england the anglo-irish in southern ireland came!), and while the authorities tried to introduce protestantism to the native irish, they were having none of it. there was something of a counter-revolution in ireland which was supported from outside — even from rome (they sent in the jesuits!) — so perhaps as part and parcel of all that, the irish church got more in line with rome wrt marriage, etc., etc. not sure. just guessing. i’m hoping Marriage in Ireland will tell me!

what i do know is that the early modern and modern irish were still clannish in their behaviors. actual clans (*fines*) were no longer the organizing principle of irish society — the protestant ascendancy ran the show politically and economically for a couple of centuries — but the native irish still behaved in clannish ways.

one of the easiest ways to spot clannishness is to look for feuding, a la the hatfields and the mccoys. that’s not the only way for clannish peoples to express their clannishness (look also for nepotism and certain other types of corruption), but it is one of the most obivous ways.

from a previous post:

“they sound like they were rather clannish as recently as the mid-1800s — right around and after the time of the potato famine there (1847) [pgs. 57-58]:

‘Clark affirms that “neighbourhood and kinship ties formed the basis of ‘primary’ groups in pre-famine Ireland” (such as “factions”) but concentrates upon “social interaction…beyond the primary group.” After the Famine, though communal and kinship ties continued to influence the composition of “collectivities”, “associational organizations was clearly predominant…during the entire second half of the nineteenth century”….’”

so perhaps towards the end of the 1800s, clannishness amongst the irish — in the sense of actually being tied to fellow extended kin members in daily life — did start to wane somewhat. but…

‘Arensberg and Kimball, by contrast, stress the strength and flexibility of kinship bonds among Claremen of the 1930s. Family links took precedence over bonds of class or occupation, while family members were remarkable for their co-operation and mutual supportiveness rather than competitiveness. The cohesion of kinship groups had been strong enough to survive profound changes in economic and social structure since the Famine….”

here come the feuds:

‘The outrage reports for pre-famine Cloone confirm the importance of “neighbourhood and kinship ties” in aligning the factions involved in “party fights”. Thus at Drimna, in 1838, “a faction fight took place between two hostile parties, named Deignan’s and Mullin’s, respecting the right to the possession of a small portion of land”. Other such confrontations were of a ritual rather than material character, providing an occasion for “long-tailed” families to assert their corporate identity and importance through trials of strength. Indeed market-day brawls could be provoked merely by the affirmation of family affiliation, as when a certain Cooke of Carrigallen “retreated towards a Public House where a party of his friends were drinking and when near it he called out ‘Who dared say anything against a Cooke…?’” It is clear that the ceremonial grappling of factions became unusual after the Famine, despite occasional reports throughout the century…. Familial networks, though, in less overt fashion, never ceased to lend cohesion to rural associations ranging from the Society of Ribbonmen to the United Irish League or Sinn Fein.’”

again, then, towards the end of the 1800s, the clannishness — the feuding — starts to die down. but the irish were still feuding as late as the mid-1800s. to find evidence for such feuding amongst the english, you need to go back to around ca. 1000-1100, i.e. 700-800 years earlier.

btw, the name “outrage reports” just cracks me up! i can imagine the very civilized, non-feuding english just thinking that the irish were “outrageous” with all their feuding! (~_^)

here’s some more from Melancholy Accidents: The Meaning of Violence in Post-Famine Ireland from the chapter entitled “Recreational Violence” (heh) … the entire chapter is quite an entertaining (if sad) read — i’ll just reproduce a couple of bits for you here [pgs. 17-21, 24 -- links added by me]:

“The most remarkable thing about violence in late nineteenth century Ireland was not its political manifestation, but its recreational aspects. Rather than brutal assassins, the characters who emerge from the criminal records are more often people who enjoyed fighting as a sometimes lethal, but rarely malicious form of entertainment. Recreational violence includes incidents in which a challenge was issued and a fight agreed upon but no serious grounds for malice existed. The confrontation occurred most often at fairs, markets and other social gatherings and usually involved alcohol [thnx to the person who sent me that!]. Over 42 percent of all homicides were recreational in origin. In the four counties for which full records exist, at least 58 percent of violent crime fell into the recreational category.

Recreational violence was a long-established cultural tradition in rural Ireland. The overwhelming concern with physcial bravery, the relative indifference to homicide, the willingness to do battle with and even kill loved ones, and the comic buffoonery sometimes demonstrated by Cuchulainn and his cohorts in ancient legends are all echoed in nineteenth century court records. These patterns had continued as fundamental parts of Irish life over the centuries….

“The defense attorney in a case in which more than a hundred men had been involved in a fight ‘alluded to the very few recreations which the country people had to amuse themselves with….’

“In many cultures violence is associated with the lower classes. However, in late nineteenth century Ireland rowdy recreation was not limited to the lower orders. Twenty-eight percent of homicides in brawls involved farmers or their families…. Though it might be argued that such rowdiness was a holdover from earlier times in which political and economic success were effectively denied to Irish tenant farmers, it is difficult to explain why it was in the most prosperous areas of the countryside that the violent traditions were longest-lived. As the ‘Munster News’ pointed out when discussing the violence in the eastern section of Limerick: ‘There should be less cause of atrocity here than in other places. The country around is fertile; the farmers are in comfortable circumstances and a barefooted boy or girl is seldom observed.’

“For all classes brawling could be entertainment and violence viewed as comic. English journalist Bernard Becker observed during a tour of Ireland in 1880 that, ‘Nothing is more amazing to serious people than the light and easy manner in which everybody takes everything on this side of the Irish Sea.’ At least thirteen homicides were the result of practical jokes gone wrong. As usual the courts gave more weight to the intent than the consequences. The longest sentence for a homicide caused by a joke was nine months given a drunk whose ‘joke’ was stabbing a child in the rear end with a hot poker.

“Faction Fights

The most obvious examples of recreational violence were faction fights…. A formal faction fight, which might involve hundreds of men on each side, usually began with the ritual of wheeling which included chants, stylized gestures and insults. In the traditional wheel, the chant included the name of the faction issuing the challenge as well as the intended opponent. For example, a faction fight might begin when one side chanted ‘Here is Connors and Delahanty. Is there any Madden will come before us…?’

“Faction fighting enjoyed its heyday in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By the 1860s the incidence had declined considerably though factions seem to have been under-reported in official returns. The outrage returns report only forty faction fights between 1866 and 1892, but there are sixty faction fights mentioned in the surviving court records. At least thirty of the homicides reported as outrages between 1866 and 1892 were faction related though not all of these deaths were the result of formal, ritualized, large-scale fights….

“Factions were particularly strong in the New Pallas and Cappamore districts of Limerick where the Three Year Olds and Four Year Olds had battled for generations. The names stemmed from a fight held decades earlier over the age of either a colt or a cow. The feud had lasted so long nobody remembered which. These factions were contributing factors in over a quarter of all indictments for assault and 8 percent of homicides in Limerick between 1866 and 1892. The ‘Limerick Reporter’ lamented, ‘There was not a fair or market, petty sessions or quarter sessions in which these horrible feuds and party disagreements were not found to prevail.’ In May 1871 the Limerick chief inspector of police reported that over half the indictable offenses in Pallas could be attriubted to factions. Even though arrests had been made, he feared ‘in every case of faction fight retaliation may be expected….’

“More than any other form of recreational violence, factions resemble organized sports. Not only do factions resemble other forms of leisure found in medieval and early modern societies, such as the battles of the bridges in Venice, they also have parallels to modern team sports. Such organized violence provides entertainment, a path to status and an outlet for communal loyalties.

so this (see steve sailer)…

fightin' irish

…is really just another confirmational stereotype. (~_^)

previously: what’s this all about? and clannish medieval ireland and early and late medieval irish mating practices and inbreeding in europe’s periphery and meanwhile, in ireland… and inbreeding in ireland in modern times

(note: comments do not require an email. fightin’ irish?)