#OTD in 1366 – The parliament, alarmed at the apparent undermining by native influences of the settler population’s Englishness, passed the ‘Statutes of Kilkenny’.

The Statutes of Kilkenny were a series of thirty-five acts passed at Kilkenny in 1366, aiming to curb the decline of the Hiberno-Norman Lordship of Ireland.

This aims to halt the widespread adoption by the Norman-Irish, especially in frontier areas, of Gaelic Irish culture, customs and language. It bans the use of the Irish language (insisting ‘that every Englishman use the English language’, though it is written in French) and Irish names within the colony, intermarriage with the native Irish, the playing of hurling, and so on. Pejorative name-calling between the English of England and the English of Ireland is prohibited. In fact, at this time there is a strong mutual influence: the Gaelic Irish are adopting some Norman-Irish practices, too. Also, most of the ‘new’ laws merely reiterate old ones (the exceptions being those on the Irish language and Irish minstrels).

The Statutes were worth little more than the paper they were written on and were largely unenforceable. The Old English ignored them and continued their lives as they previously were. The Statutes made for good reading if you were a citizen of the Pale, but they were very toothless.

Photo: Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny

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