Brehon Law: The Senchus Mór

The Senchus Mór, is the foundation text of the most sophisticated law tradition in Europe of a thousand years ago. The body of law as a whole is often called “Brehon Law” but is properly called Fenechus, which means “that which relates to the Feine” the free classes that formed the main body of Irish society.

And the authors of the Senchus were

Laeghaire, Core, Dairi, the hardy,
Patrick, Benen, Cairnech, the just,
Rossa, Dubhthach, Ferghus, with science,
These were the nine pillars of the Senchus Mór.

Its legendary beginning is associated with a conference in the year 438 A.D. involving St Patrick and Laegaire Mac Neill, High king of Ireland. The King ordered the collection of the old laws and appointed nine learned persons, named above, to revise them.

After three years work they produced a new code, mainly by altering all laws that clashed with Christian doctrine. In this way the new philosophy and the ancient laws of Ireland were harmonised.

It was composed of three kings, three bishops, and three professors of literature, poetry, and law. Chief among the latter was Dubthach. It became his duty to give an historical retrospect, and in doing so he exhibited, “…all the judgments of true nature which the Holy Ghost had spoken from the first occupation of this island down to the reception of the faith. What did not clash with the word of God in the written law and in the New Testament and with the consciences of believers was confirmed in the laws of the Brehons by Patrick and by the ecclesiastics and chieftains of Ireland.

The Celtic Universe

According to the Senchus Mór, there are seven layers in the world above the earth:

The Moon
The Sun

The stars above created an outer shell around the sky, like an egg’s shell. Twelve constellations represented a year, with the sun running through one every month.

Ancient Laws of Ireland: Uraicect Becc and Certain Other Selected Brehon Law Tracts

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