THE BREHONS AND THE LAW
In ancient Ireland Druids and Bards held sway over all legal precedings. Druids held the role of Judge(s), Lawyers and jury whilest the Bards acted similar to modern day scribes and occasionally litigators as well. A judge was called a Brehon, and as a consequence the laws of that system became known as the "Brehon Law". A more correct term is the Fénechas, meaning the the law of the Féine or free land-tillers.
The Brehons held absolute control over such things as interpreting the laws, and applying them to each case as it came to pass in the country. They were an extremely influential group of men, who were given such things as free lands and etc when they were a part of the chieftain or chieftainess entourage. These lands were given to the family for generations to come. Those who were not attached to clans or tribes, lived on the fees they charged for the professions, which gave to many of them great wealth and stature in the communities.
The legal rules, contained then, as today, in Law Books, were extremely complex, and used a broad variety of technical terms. A vast array of forms had to be completed and many varied circumstances taken into account for each case. There was little chance that anyone who was not a part of the legal system could hope to master the complex legal system in place at that time. The Brehons had to take extreme care as they too were responsible for damages to the injured party. If they rendered a bad judgement they forfeited the fee, as well as paying damages or fines of their own.
To become a brehon a person had to go through a lengthy course of study and long training. The same course permitted the brehon to be part of any branch of the legal system, a judge, a lawyer or legal representative or an agent of the law.
The Brehons being Druids were regarded as somewhat mysterious, godly people who were god(dess)-inspired, with a higher power keeping watch of their decisions and pronouncing them guilty of a malfeasance of duty by punishing them for wrong judgements. "When the brehons deviated from the truth, there appeared blotches upon their cheeks."
A particularly famous brehon, called Morann, son ofa first century king of Ireland, word a collar on his neck which tightened when he delivered a false judgement, and released the pressure when he delivered the true one.
"All this agrees with the whole tenor of Irish literature, whether legendary, legal, or historical, which shows the great respect the Irish entertained for justice pure and simple according to law, and their horror of unjust decisions"..
Even in the most ancient periods of history it was the same as it was at the beginning of the seventeenth century when Sir John Davies -an Englishman- the Irish attorney-general of James I., testified: "For there is no nation of people under the sunne that doth love equall and indifferent [i.e. impartial] justice better then the Irish; or will rest better satisfied with the execution thereof, although it bee against themselves so as they may have the protection and benefit of the law, when uppon just cause they do desire it." Later the Penal Laws changed all of the natural love of the Irish persons to a natural hatred and distrust of the law, which continues to be felt in many places today.
Senchus Mor, and Legal Books.
The brehons had collections of laws in volumes or tracts, all in the Irish language, by which they regulated their judgements, and which those of them who kept law-schools expounded to their scholars; each tract treating of one subject or one group of subjects. Many of these have been preserved, and of late years the most important have been published, with translations, forming five printed volumes (with a sixth consisting of a valuable Glossary to the preceding five).
Of the tracts contained in these volumes, the two largest and most important are the Senchus Mór [Shanahus More] and the Book of Acaill [Ack'ill]. In the ancient Introduction to the Senchus Mor the following account is given of its original compilation. In the year 438 A.D. a collection of the Pagan laws was made at the request of St. Patrick; and Laegaire [Laery] King of Ireland, appointed a committee of nine learned and eminent persons, including himself and St. Patrick, to revise them. At the end of three years these nine produced a new code, from which everything that clashed with the Christian doctrine had been carefully and summarily excluded. This was the Senchus Mór.
The very book left by St. Patrick and the others has been long lost. Successive copies were made from time to time with commentaries and explanations appended, till the manuscripts we now possess were produced. The existing manuscript copies of the Senchus Mór consist The original text, written in a large hand with wide spaces between the lines An introduction to the text: Commentaries on the text, in a smal1er hand Glosses or explanations on words and phrases of the text, in a hand still smaller: commentaries and, glosses commonly written in the spaces between the lines of text, but often on the margins. Of these the text, as might be expected, is the most ancient.
The laws were written in the oldest dialect of the Irish language, called Bérla Féini [Bairla-faina] which even at the time was so difficult that persons about to become brehons had to be specially instructed in it. Even the authors of the Commentaries and Glosses who wrote hundreds of years ago, and were themselves learned brehons, were often quite at fault in their attempts to explain the archaic text: and their words show that they were fully conscious of the difficulty. It will then be readily understood that the task of translating these laws was a very difficult one, rendered all the more so by the number of technical terms and phrases, many of which are to this day obscure, as well as by the peculiar style, which is very elliptical and abrupt-often incomplete sentences, or mere catch-words of rules not written down in full, but held in memory by the experts of the time. Another circumstance that greatly adds to the difficulty of deciphering these mss. is the confused way in which the Commentaries and glosses are written in, mainly with the object of economising the expensive vellum.
The two great Irish scholars-O'Donovan and O'Curry-who translated the laws included in the five printed volumes, were able to do so only after a life-long study; and in numerous instances were, to the last, not quite sure of the meaning. As they had to retain the legal terms and the elliptical style, even the translation is hard enough to understand, and is often unintelligible. It is, moreover, imperfect for another reason: it was only a preliminary and provisional translation, containing many imperfections and errors, to be afterwards corrected ; but the translators did not live to revise it, and it was printed as they left it.
SUITABILITY OF BREHON LAWS
The Brehon Code forms a great body of civil, military, and criminal law. It regulates the various ranks of society, from the king down to the slave, and enumerates their several rights and privileges. There are minute rules for the management of property, for the several industries - building, brewing, mills, water-courses, fishing-weirs, bees and honey - for distress or seizure of goods, for tithes, trespass, and evidence. The relations of landlord and tenant, the fees of professional men - doctors, judges, teachers, builders, artificers, - the mutual duties of father and son, of foster-parents and foster-children, of master and servant, are all carefully regulated. In that portion corresponding to what is now known as criminal law, the various offences are minutely distinguished - murder, manslaughter, assaults, wounding, thefts, and all sorts of wilful damage ; and accidental injuries from flails, sledgehammers, machines, and weapons of all kinds ; and the amount of compensation is laid down in detail for almost every possible variety of injury.
The Brehon Law was vehemently condemned by English writers ; and in several acts of parliament it was made treason for the English settlers to use it. But these testimonies are to be received with much reserve as coming from prejudiced and interested parties. We have good reason to believe that the Brehon Law was very well suited to the society in which, and from which, it grew up. This view is confirmed by the well-known fact that when the English settlers living outside the Pale adopted the Irish manners and customs, they all, both high and low, abandoned their own law and adopted the Brehon Code, to which they became quite as much attached as the Irish themselves.
STRUCTURE OF SOCIETY
THE FIVE MAIN CLASSES OF PEOPLE
The lay people were divided into classes, from the king down to the slave, and the Brehon Law took cognisance of all - setting forth their rights, duties, and privileges. The leading, though not the sole, qualification to confer rank was property; the rank being, roughly speaking, in proportion to the amount. Under certain conditions, persons could pass from one class to the next above, always provided their character was unimpeachable.
There were five main classes of people
Kings of several grades, from the king of the tuath or cantred up to the king of Ireland:
Nobles, which class indeed included kings:
Non-noble Freemen with property:
Non-noble Freemen without property, or with some, but not sufficient to place them among the class next above :
The non-free clauses:
The first three - Kings, Nobles, non-noble Freemen with property-were the privileged classes Flaiths or Nobles
The Nobles were those who had land as their own property, for which they did not pay rent : they were the owners of the soil - the aristocracy. An aire of this class was called a Flaith [flah], i.e. a noble, a chief, a prince. There were several ranks of nobles, the rank depending chiefly on the amount of landed property.
Non-noble Freemen with Property
A person belonging to the other class of aire - a non-noble rent-paying freeman with property had no land of his own, his property consisting of cattle and other movable goods; hence he was called a Bó-aire, i.e. a ' cow-chief' (bó, 'a cow'). He should rent a certain amount of land, and possess a certain amount of property in cattle and other goods, to entitle him to rank as an aire. As in the case of the nobles, there were several classes of bo-aires, ranking according to their property. If a person belonging to the highest class of bo-aires could prove that he had twice as much property as was required for the lowest rank of noble, and complied with certain other conditions and formalities, and also provided his father and grandfather had been aires who owned land, he was himself entitled to take rank as a noble of the lowest rank.
The three preceding main classes-kings, nobles, and bo-aires - were all aires, chiefs, or privileged people: the first two being flaiths or noble aires, the third, non-noble aires, i.e. free tenants, with property sufficient to entitle them to the position of aire. All three had some part in the government of the country and in the administration of the law, as kings, tanists, nobles, military chiefs, magistrates, and persons otherwise in authority; and they commonly wore a flesc or bracelet on the arm as a mark of their dignity.
Non-noble Freemen without Property
The next class - the fourth - the freemen with little or with no property, were céiles [kailas] or free tenants. They differed from the bo-aires only in not being rich enough to rank as aires or chiefs ; for the bo-aires were themselves céiles or rent-payers; and accordingly a man of the fourth class could become a bo-aire if he accumulated property enough: the amount being laid down in the Brehon Law. These céiles or tenants, or free rent-payers - corresponding with the old English ceorls - or churls- formed the great body of the farming class. They were called aithech [ah'-egh], i.e. 'plebeian,' 'farmer,' 'peasant,' -to distinguish them from the aires or chieftain grades: and the term féine or féne [faine], which means much the same as aitech, was also applied to them. The land held by the féine or free tenants was either a part of the tribe-land, or was the private property of some flaith or noble, from whom they rented it. Everywhere in the literature, especially in the laws, the féine or free farming classes are spoken of as a most important part of the community - as the foundation of society, and as the ultimate source of law and authority.
Tradesmen formed another very important class of freemen. The greater number belonged to the fourth class - freemen without property. Some crafts were ‘noble' or privileged, of which the members enjoyed advantages and privileges beyond those of other trades: and some high-class craftsmen belonged to the class aire or chief.
The Non-free Classes
So far we have treated of freemen, that is those who enjoyed all the rights of the tribe, of which the most important was the right to the use of a portion of the tribe-land and commons We now come to treat of the non-free classes. The term 'non-free' does not necessarily mean that they were slaves. The non-free people were those who had not the full rights of the free people of the tribe. They had no claim to any part of the tribe-land, though they were permitted, under strict conditions, to till little plots for mere subsistence. This was by far the most serious of their disabilities. Their standing varied, some being absolute slaves, some little removed from slavery, and others far above it. That slavery pure and simple existed in Ireland in early times we know from the law-books as well as from history; and that it continued to a comparatively late period is proved by the testimony of Giraldus Cambrensis - twelfth century-who relates that it was a common custom among the English to sell their children and other relatives to the Irish for slaves - Bristol being the great mart for the trade. From this, as well as from our own records, we see that some slaves were imported. But the greater number were native Irish, who, from various causes had lost their liberty and had been reduced to a state of slavery.
Groups of Society
The people were formed into groups of various sizes, from the family upwards. The Family was the group consisting of the living parents and all their descendants. The Sept was a larger group, descended from common parents long since dead: but this is an imported word, brought into use in comparatively late times. All the members of a sept were nearly related, and in later times bore the same surname. The Clan or house was still larger. Clann means 'children,' and the word therefore implied descent from one ancestor. The word fine [finna] usually meant a group of persons related by blood within certain degrees of consanguinity, all residing in the same neighbourhood; but it was often applied in a much wider sense. The Tribe (tuath) was made up of several septs, clans, or houses, and usually claimed, like the subordinate groups, to be descended from a common ancestor. The adoption of strangers-sometimes individuals, sometimes whole groups - into the family or clan was common; but it required the consent of the fine or circle of near relations - formally given at a court meeting. From all this it will be seen that in every tribe there was much admixture; and the theory of common descent from one ancestor became a fiction, except for the leading families, who kept a careful record of their genealogy.
THE LAWS RELATIVE TO THE LAND
Land originally common Property It would appear that originally - in prehistoric times - the land was all common property, belonging to the tribe, not to individuals, and chief and people were liable to be called on to give up their portions for a new distribution. But as time went on, this custom was gradually broken in upon ; and the lands held by some, after long possession, came to be looked upon as private property. As far back as our records go, there was some private ownership in land.
Five ways of holding Land
Within historic times the following were the rules of land tenure, as set forth chiefly in the Brehon Laws, and also in some important points by early English writers. The tribe (or aggregate or tribes), under the rule of one king or chief held permanently a definite district of the country. The tribe was divided, as already described, into smaller groups-clans or septs - each of which, being governed by a sub-chief under the chief of the tribe, was a sort of miniature of the whole tribe ; and each clan was permanently settled down on a separate portion of the land, which was considered as their separate property, and which was not interfered with by any other clans or septs of the tribe. The land was held by individuals in some one of five different ways.
The chief, whether of tribe or of the sept, had a portion as mensal land, for life or for as long as he remained chief. Another portion was held as private property by persons who had come, in various ways, to own the land. Persons held, as tenants, portions of the lands belonging to those who owned it as private property, or portions of the mensal land of the chief - much like tenants of the present day: these paid what was equivalent to rent - always in kind. The term was commonly seven years, and they might sublet to under-tenants. The rest of the arable land, which was called the Tribe-land - equivalent to the folc or folk land of England - forming by far the largest part of the territory, belonged to the people in general, the several subdivisions of it to the several septs, no part being private property. This was occupied by the free members of the sept, who were owners for the time being, each of his own farm. Every free man had a right to his share - a right never questioned. Those who occupied the tribe-land did not hold for any fixed term, for the land of the sept was liable to gavelkind (below) or redistribution from time to time - once every three or four years. Yet they were not tenants at will, for they could not be disturbed till the time of gavelling; even then each man kept his crops and got compensation for unexhausted improvements; and although he gave up one farm, he always got another. The non-arable or waste land - mountain, forest, bog, etc.-was Commons-land. This was not appropriated by individuals; but every free man had a right to use it for grazing, for procuring fuel, or for the chase. There was no need of subdividing the commons by fences, for the cattle of all grazed over it without distinction. This custom still exists in many places all through Ireland. The portion of territory occupied by each clan or sept commonly included land held in all the five ways here described. It should be observed that the individuals and families who owned land as private property were comparatively few, and their possessions were not extensive: the great bulk of both people and land fell under the conditions of tenure described under the Fourth and Fifth headings.
Tenants: their Payments and Subsidies
Every tribesman had to pay to his chief certain subsidies according to his means. Those who held portion of the tribe-land, and who used the commons-land for grazing or other purposes, paid these subsidies of course; but beyond this they had no rent to pay to any individual for land held or used under headings four and five described above.
The tribesman who placed himself under the protection of a chief, and who held land, whether it was the private property of the lessor or a part of the general tribe-land, was, as already explained, a Céile [cail'eh] or tenant; also called féine and aithech, i.e. a plebeian, farmer, or rent-payer. But a man who takes land must have stock - cows and sheep for the pasture-land, horses or oxen to carry on the work of tillage. A small proportion of the ceiles had stock of their own, but the great majority had not. Where the tenant needed stock it was the custom for the chief to give him as much as he wanted at certain rates of payment. This custom of giving and taking stock on hire was universal in Ireland, and was regulated in great detail by the Brehon Law.
Every tenant and every tradesman had to give his chief a yearly or half-yearly tribute, chiefly food supplies - cows, pigs, corn, bacon, butter, honey, malt for making ale, etc.- the amount chiefly depending on the quantity of land he held and on the amount of stock he hired. Some tenants were obliged to give coinmed [coiney], that is to say, the chief was privileged to go with a retinue, for one or more days to the house of the tenant, who was to lodge and feed them for the time. This was an evil custom, liable to great abuse ; and it was afterwards imitated by the Anglo-Norman chiefs, who called it coyne and livery; which they chiefly levied from their own people, the English settlers. They committed great excesses, and their coyne and livery was far worse than the Irish coinmed, so that it came at last to be forbidden by the English law.
There was a numerous class of very poor unfree tenants called fudirs, who were generally in a very wretched condition. They were tenants at will, having no right in their holdings. A fudir was completely at the mercy of his chief, who might turn him off at any time, and who generally rackrented him so as to leave barely enough for subsistence.
The ancient rights of the tenants, i.e. of the ceiles or freemen, were chiefly three - A right to some portion of the arable or tribe-land, and to the use of the commons: a right to pay no more than a fair rent, which, in the absence of express agreement, was adjusted by the Brehon Law: a right to own a house and homestead, and (with certain equitable exceptions) all unexhausted improvements. Among the freemen who held farm land there was no such thing as eviction from house or farm, for there was a universal conviction that the landlord was not the absolute owner, so that all free tenants had what was equivalent to fixity of tenure. If a man failed to pay the subsidy to his chief, or the rent of land held in any way, or the debt due for stock, it was recovered, like any other debt, by the processes described in next section, never by process of eviction.
Descent of Land
In Ireland the land descended in three different ways. as private property.-When a man had land understood to be his own, it would naturally pass to his heirs; or he might if he wished divide it among them during his life - a thing that was sometimes done.
The land held by the chief as mensal estate descended, not to his heir, but to the person who succeeded him in the chiefship. This is what is known as descent by Tanistry.
By Gavelkind: When a tenant who held a part of the tribe-land died, his farm did not go to his children, but the whole of the land belonging to the fine or sept was redivided or gavelled among all the male adult members of the sept - including the dead man's adult sons. The domain of the chief, and all land that was private property, were exempt. The redistribution by gavelkind on each occasion extended to the clan or sept and not beyond. Davies complains, with justice, that this custom prevented the tenants from making permanent improvements.
The two customs of Tanistry and Gavelkind formerly prevailed all over Europe, and continued in Russia until a very recent period : and Gavelkind, in a modified form, still exists in Rent. They were abolished and made illegal in Ireland in the reign of James I.; after which land descended to the next heir according to English law.
THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
The Law of Compensation
In very early times, beyond the reach of history, the law of retaliation prevailed, as in most other countries-" an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth ", in other words, every man or woman, every family that was injured might take direct revenge on the offender. But this being found inconsistent with the peace and well-being of the community - especially in cases of homicide, which were frequent enough in those days - gradually gave place to the law of compensation, which applied to every form of injury. In Ireland the process was this
-The injured party sued the offender in proper form, and, if the latter responded, the case was referred to the local brehon, who decided according to law. The penalty always took the form of a fine to be paid by the offender to the person or family injured, and the brehon's fee was usually paid out of this fine.
Procedure by Distress
If the offender refused to submit the case to the usual tribunal, or if he withheld payment after the case had been decided against him, or if a man refused to pay a just debt of any kind - in any one of these cases the plaintiff or the creditor proceeded by Distress; that is to say, he distrained or seized the cattle or other effects of the defendant. We will suppose the effects to be cattle. There was generally an anad or stay of one or more days on the distress; that is, the plaintiff went through the form of seizing the cattle, but did not remove them. During the stay the cattle remained in the possession of the defendant or debtor, no doubt to give him time to make up his mind as to what course to take, viz. either to pay the debt or to have the case tried before the brehon: but the plaintiff had all the time a claim on them. If the debt was not paid at the end of the lawful stay, the plaintiff, in the presence of certain witnesses, removed the animals and put them in a pound, the expense of feeding and tending being paid out of the value of the cattle. If the debtor persisted in refusing to settle the case, the creditor sold or kept as many of the cattle as paid the debt.
Procedure by Fasting
In some cases before distress was resorted to, a curious custom came into play -the plaintiff "fasted on" the defendant It was done in this way. The plaintiff, having served due notice, went to the house of the defendant, and, sitting before the door, remained there without food ; and as long as he remained, the defendant was also obliged to fast. It may be inferred that the debtor generally yielded before the fast was ended, i.e. either paid the debt or gave a pledge that he would settle the case. This fasting process - which exists still in India - was regarded with a sort of superstitious awe ; and it was considered outrageously disgraceful for a defendant not to submit to it. It is pretty evident that the man who refused to abide by the custom, not only incurred personal danger, but lost all character, and was subject to something like what we now call a universal boycott, which in those days no man could bear. He had in fact to fly and become a sort of outlaw.
Eric or Compensation Fine
Homicide or bodily injury of any kind was atoned for by a fine called Eric [errick]. The injured person brought the offender before a brehon, by whom the case was tried and the exact amount of the eric was adjudged. Many modifying circumstances had to be taken into account - the actual injury, the rank of the parties, the intention of the wrong-doer, the provocation, the amount of set-off claims, etc. - so that the settlement called for much legal knowledge, tact, and technical skill on the part of the brehon - quite as much as we expect in a lawyer of the present day.
In case of homicide the family of the victim were entitled to the eric. If the culprit did not pay, or absconded, leaving no property, his fine or family were liable. If he refused to come before a brehon, or if, after trial, the eric fine was not paid by him or his family, then he might be lawfully killed. The eric for bodily injury depended, to some extent, on the "dignity" of the part injured: if it was the forehead, or chin, or any other part of the face, the eric was greater than if the injured part was covered by raiment. Half the eric for homicide was due for the loss of a leg, a hand, an eye, or an ear; but in no case was the collective eric for such injuries to exceed the "body-fine " -i.e. the eric for homicide.
The principle of compensation for murder and for unintentional homicide existed among the Anglo-Saxons, as well as among the ancient Greeks, Franks, and Germans. In the laws of the English king Athelstan, there is laid down a detailed scale of prices to be paid in compensation for killing persons of various ranks or society, from an archbishop or duke down to a churl or farmer; and traces of the custom remained in English law till the early part of the last century.
METHODS OF PUNISHMENT
There was no such thing as a sentence of death passed by a Brehon in a court of law, no matter what the crime was: it was always compensation; and the Brehon's business was to determine the amount. Capital punishment was known well enough, however, and practised, outside the courts of law. Kings claimed the right to put persons to death for certain crimes. Thus we are told, in the Tripartite Life or St. Patrick, that neither gold nor silver would be accepted from him who lighted a fire before the lighting or the festival fire of Tara, but he should be put to death; and the death-penalty was inflicted on anyone who, at a fair-meeting, killed another or raised a serious quarrel. We have seen that if for any cause homicide was not atoned for by eric, then the criminal's life was forfeit.
Various modes of putting criminals to death were in use in ancient Ireland. Sometimes they were hanged. Sometimes the culprit was drowned by being flung into water, either tied up in a sack or with a heavy stone round his neck.
Where the death penalty was not inflicted for a crime, various other modes of punishment were resorted to, though never as the result of a judicial process before a Brehon. Blinding as a punishment was very common, not only in Ireland but among many other nations. A very singular punishment was to send the culprit adrift on the open sea in a boat, without sail, oar, or rudder; as, for instance, in case of homicide, if it was unintentional. A person of this kind cast on shore belonged to the owner of the shore until a cuinal was paid for his release.
COURTS OF JUSTICE
Courts for the trial of legal cases, as well as meetings of representative people to settle local affairs, were often held in the open - sometimes on green little hills, and sometimes in buildings. There was a gradation of courts, from the lowest - something like our petty sessions - to the highest, the great national assembly whether at Tara or elsewhere representing all Ireland. Over each court a member of the chieftain or privileged classes presided : the rank of the president corresponded to the rank of the court; and his legal status, duties, powers, and privileges were very strictly defined. The over-king presided over the National Feis or assembly.
In each court, besides the brehon who sat in judgement, there were one or more professional lawyers, advocates, or pleaders, called, in Cormac 's Glossary, dálaige [dawlee] and dai who conducted the cases for their clients; and the presiding brehon judge had to hear the pleadings for both sides before coming to a decision. Whether the court was held in a building or in the open air, there was a platform of some kind on which the pleader stood while addressing the court.
With regard to evidence, various rules were in force, which may be gathered from detached passages in the laws and general literature. In order to prove home a matter of fact in a court of justice, at least two witnesses were required. If a man gave evidence against his wife, the wife was entitled to give evidence in reply; but a man's daughter would not be heard against him in like circumstances. Any freeman might give evidence against a fudir; but the fudir was not permitted to give evidence in reply. A king's evidence was good against all other people, with the three exceptions mentioned at page 23. The period at which a young man could give legal evidence was when he was seventeen years of age, or when he began to grow a beard.
The Irish delighted in judgements delivered in the form of a sententious maxim, or an apt illustration - some illustration bearing a striking resemblance to the case in question. The jurist who decided a case by the aid of such a parallel was recognised as gifted with great judicial wisdom, and his judgement often passed into a proverb.
Several judgements of this kind are recorded, of which one is given here. When Cormac mac Art, the rightful heir to the throne of Ireland, was a boy, he lived at Tara in disguise; for the throne was held by the usurper Mac Con, so that Cormac dared not reveal his identity. There was at this time living near Tara a female brewy, named Bennaid, whose sheep trespassed on the royal domain, and ate up the queen's valuable crop of glaisín [glasheen] or woadplants for dyeing. The queen instituted proceedings for damages; and the question came up for decision before the king, who, after hearing the evidence, decided that the sheep should be forfeit in payment for the glaisin. "Not so," exclaimed the boy Cormac, who was present, and who could not restrain his judicial instincts: "the cropping of the sheep should be sufficient for the cropping of the glaisin - the wool for the woad - for both will grow again." "That is a true judgement," exclaimed all: " and he who has pronounced it is surely the son of a king "-for kings were supposed to possess a kind of inspiration in giving their decisions. And so they discovered who Cormac was, and in a short time placed him on the throne, after deposing the usurper.
Handfasting is an ancient Celtic custom, especially common in Ireland and Scotland, in which a man and woman came together at the start of their marriage relationship. Their hands, or more accurately, their wrists, were literally tied together. This practice gave way to the expression "tying the knot" which has come to mean getting married or engaged.
The handfasting ritual recognized just one of many forms of marriages permitted under the ancient Irish Brehon law. The man and woman who came together for the handfasting agreed to stay together for a specific period of time, usually a year-and-a-day. At the end of the year the couple faced a choice. They could enter into a longer-term "permanent" marriage contract, renew their agreement for another year, or go their separate ways.
The custom hails from the pre-Christian era but continued after Christianity was well established because it was not ordinary for either the Church or government to play a role in witnessing marriages during this period. (Even though Marriage was one of the seven sacraments, it wasn't until the Council of Trent, which began in 1537, that the Church required that the Church witness marriages. Government registration of marriages in Ireland only began in the middle of the 19th century.)
It is important to understand the view of the Brehon Law on marriage to see the importance of handfasting. In an article entitled Marriage, Separation and Divorce in Ancient Gaelic Culture, Alix Morgan MacAnTsaior points out that marriage was seen as a contract intended to first protect the individual and property rights of the parties (and their families) and secondly to ensure that any children born of the union were properly recognized and cared for.
If the couple decided to separate at the end of the year (or at any other time) Brehon law specified how their property would be divided. More importantly, it established the recognition of the inheritance rights of any child conceived during the time of the handfasting union.
Lughnasadh, the August 1st Celtic festival, was one time of the year when handfastings often took place. These unions were known as "Teltown marriages" because men and women came together at the festival at Teltown, Co. Meath, often not knowing in advance who their partner would be. They remained together through the year and if necessary, parted company at the festival in following year.
Handfasting survives in several forms today. It is present in part in many Western religious and secular ceremonies as the celebrant asks, "Who gives this woman to be married?" The giving of the bride's hand to the groom is reminiscent of the handfasting ceremony. Handfasting is also the marriage rite practiced by Pagan and Wiccan groups.
THE TRIADS OF BREHON LAW
Concerning three things that hide: an open bag hides nothing, an open door hides little, an open person hides something.
Three errors not acknowledged: fear of an enemy, torment of love, and a jealous persons' evil suspicion of their mate.
Three possessions we value most take away pride from us: our money, our time, and our conscience. Three things by nature cause their possessor to err: youth, prosperity, and ignorance.
Three things resemble each other: a bright sword which rusts from long staying in the scabbard, bright water which stinks from long standing, and wisdom which is dead from long disuse.
Three things not easy to check: the stream of a cataract, an arrow from a bow, and a rash tongue.
Three things hard to catch: a stag on the mountain, a fox in the wood, and the coin of the miser.
There are three things each very like the other: an old blind horse playing the harp with his hoofs, a pig in a silk dress, and a merciless person prating about piety.
Three things as good as the best: bread and milk against hunger, a white coat against the cold, and a yeoman's son in a breach.
Three things which are not hidden: a straw in the shoe, an awl in a bag, and a harlot in a crowd.
Three sweet things in the world: power, prosperity, and love.
Three strong things in the world: a lord, a fool, and the Void.
There are three things which move together as quickly the one as the other: lightning , thought , and the help of the Mighty Ones.
Three things not loved without each one its companion: day without night, idleness without hunger, and wisdom without reverence.
There are three whose full reward can never be given to them: parents, a good teacher, and the Mighty Ones. Three glories of a gathering: a comely mate, a good horse, and a swift hound.
Three things which constitute a healer: a complete cure, leaving little or no blemish behind, and a painless examination.
Three false sisters: "perhaps", "maybe", and "I dare say".
Three timid brothers: "Hush!" "Stop!" "Listen!"
Three youthful sisters: desire, beauty, and generosity.
Three aged sisters: groaning, chastity, and ugliness.
Three slender things that best support the world: the slender stream of milk from the cows dug into the pail; the slender blade of green corn upon the ground; the slender thread over the hand of a skilled woman.
Three keys that unlock thoughts: altered states; trustfulness; love.
Three sounds of increase: the lowing of a cow in milk; the din of a smithy; the swish of a plow.
Three unbreathing things paid for only with breathing things: An apple tree, a hazel bush, a sacred grove.
Three things by which excellence is established: Taking all things in moderation with nothing in excess; abidance to oaths; and acceptance of responsibility.
It is easier to determine the truth when these three prime evidences are existent: physical items which tell a story; trustworthy witnesses which tell their story; and concurrence with known truths. .
Three things from which never to be moved: one's oaths; one's Gods; and the truth.
Three things which strengthen a person to stand against the whole world: Seeing the quality and beauty of truth; seeing beneath the cloak of falsehood; and seeing to what ends truth and falsehood come.
There are three things excellent among worldly affairs: hating folly; loving excellence; and endeavoring constantly to learn.
Three manifestations of humanity: Affectionate bounty; loving manner; and praiseworthy knowledge.
Three things which spring from following lawful goodness: universal love from the Wise; worldly sufficiency, and better place in the life to come.
Three things without which there can be nothing good: truth; peace; and generosity.
Three beautiful beings of the world: the upright, the skillful, and the reasonable.
Three tendencies of a persons lifetime: hope, love, and joy.
Three things excellent for anyone: valor, learning, and discretion.
Three things must be united before good can come of them: thinking well, speaking well, and acting well.
Three things are becoming a person: knowledge, good deeds, and gentleness.
Three things it is everyone's duty to do: listen humbly, answer discreetly, and judge kindly.
Three things one should keep always before them: their worldly duty, their conscience, and the Laws of Nature.
Three sureties of happiness: good habits, amiability, and forbearance.
Three things without which there can be nothing good: truth, valor, and generosity.
Three marvelous deeds: to forgive a wrong done, to amend everything possible, and to refrain from injustice.
Three joys of the happy: avoidance of excess, peace, and loyalty.
Three antagonists of goodness: arrogance, passion, and covetousness.
Three rewards of those who learn to temper their emotions: experience, strength, and introspection.
Three things beside which the baneful cannot be: conformity to law, knowledge, and love.
Three things must wait long before they are attained: honesty from covetousness, wisdom from arrogance , and wealth from sloth.
Three things hard to obtain: cold fire, dry water, and lawful covetousness.
Three duties of the excellent person: to cherish their mate and children, to love their country, and to obey the laws of their people.
Three manifestations of excellence : the honoring of parents, the respecting of the aged, and instructing the young; and to this a fourth, defending of infancy and innocence.
Three reasons for supplicating to the Mighty Ones: because it is a pleasure to you, that you may be a friend of those who are wise, and because your soul is immortal.
Three reasons to war against fault: to not do to others as you would not have them do to you , that you not be arrogant , that you might always let the light of wisdom shine.
Three ways to lose excellence: to become a servant to one's passions, to not learn from the examples set by others, to indulge to excess.
Three fair things that hide ugliness: good manners in the ill favored; skill in a common person; wisdom in misshapen.
Three candles that illume every darkness: truth, nature, and knowledge.
RESPECTING THE CONSCIENTIOUS PERSON:
There are three kingdoms of the happy: the world's good word, a cheerful conscience, and firm hope of the life to come.
Three leaderships of the happy: being good in service, good in disposition, and good in secrecy; and these are found united only in those with a noble heart.
In three things a person may be as the Divine: justice, knowledge, and mercy.
Three things lovable in a person: tranquillity, wisdom, and kindness.
Three things excellent in a person: diligence, sincerity, and humility.
Three things which show a true human: a silent mouth, an incurious eye, and a fearless face.
Three companions on the high road to Union with the Void: a patient poor person, a reflective wise person, and a tolerant reformer.
Three who are loved by the Mighty Ones: the strong just person, the brave merciful person, the person generous without regret.
Three things without which the protection of the Mighty Ones cannot be: forgiving an enemy and a wrong done, wisdom in judgment and act; and cleaving to what is just, come what may.
There are three things to be commended in those that possess them: wisdom in talk, justice in actions, and excess in nothing.
RESPECTING THE REWARDS OF EXCELLENCE:
There are three things which the happy will gain: prosperity, honor, and the ease of conscience.
Three things which the humble will gain: plenty, happiness , and the love of their neighbors.
Three things which the sincere will gain: favor, respect, and prosperity.
Three things which the patient will gain: love, tranquillity, and succor .
Three things which the merciful will gain: favor, love, and the protection of the Mighty Ones.
Three things which the upright will gain: worldly sufficiency, peace of conscience, and unending happiness.
Three things which the industrious will gain: precedence , wealth , and praise from the Wise.
Three things which the law-abiding will gain: health, success, and honor.
Three things which the careful will gain: respect, plenty, and content.
Three things which the generous of heart will gain: joy from their profit, felicity in giving, and a better life to come.
Three things which the early riser will gain: health, wealth, and happiness.
ORIGINS OF WRONG DOING:
There are three companions of lawlessness: pride, envy, and rapine.
Three things hateful to the Mighty Ones and to human kind: a weak look, a deceitful tongue, and a mischievous spirit.
Three roots of every evil: covetousness, falsehood, and arrogance.
Three joys of the lawless: gluttony, fighting, and fickleness.
Three things which end ill: falsehood, envy, and guile.
Three bad tendencies in a person: pride without generosity, covetousness without justice, and anger without mercy.
Three chief evil qualities of people: sloth, deceit, and arrogance.
Three things pleasant to see: an unhappy person becoming happy, a miser becoming generous, and the lawless submitting to authority .
Three chief things which deceive people: fair words, desire of gain, and ignorance.
Three things it is no worse to lose than to keep: wealth, youth, and love of the world.
There are three things: counsel , loss , shame; and they who have not the first will get the other two.
Three nourishment's of arrogance: recklessness, wealth, and excess.
Three things which attack the weakest: enemies, wealth, and pride.
Three things better forsaken by those who love them: sport, carousal, and strife.
Three things of which only the happy and wise beware: the breaking of oaths, drunkenness, and vanity.
Three things whose deficiency is not worse than their excess: festivity, wealth, and pleasure.
Three things which follow sloth: evil deeds, evil report, and evil end.
Three things odious in a person: ignorance, bad deeds, and perversity.
Three things unseemly for a person: to think themselves wise, to think another foolish, and to think their appearance what they desire.
Three chief corruption's of the world: sloth, pride, and extravagance.
Three things which afflict the world: envy, anger, and covetousness.
Three strange things in the world: loving war more than peace, loving excess more than sufficiency, and loving falsehood more than truth.
RESPECTING THOSE GONE AMISS:
There are three people accursed: they who work against the Laws of Nature without concern, they who know nothing of the Mighty Ones and do not seek to learn, and they who know much and do not share their knowledge with any other.
Three kinds of evil people: the traitor, the conspirator, and the slanderer.
Three people hateful to the Mighty Ones and to human kind: the liar, the thief, and the miser.
Three kinds of people worthless to they who are just and honest: the drunkard, the perjurer, and the traitor.
Three kinds of people without the fear of the Mighty Ones: the traitor, the ravisher, and the miser.
Three chief attributes of a person likely to do wrong: an angry countenance, an arrogant spirit, and an insatiable covetousness.
Three marks of a thief: an inquisitive tongue, a curious eye and a fearful face.
Three things needful to one who has done wrong: to acknowledge their wrong, to seek to be upright, and to make restitution.
From three people keep yourself: the joyless, the mocker, and the one who laughs at lawless doings.
Three people easy to do without: they who do no benefit to any, they who bring no joy to any, and they who keep not peace with any.
Three who are best when they are farthest off: the fulsome flatterer, the contentious slanderer, and the lying tale-bearer.
Three things which gain daily and seek continually: the sea, a drunkard, and a miser.
Three rude ones in the world: a youngster mocking an old person; a robust person mocking an invalid; a wise man mocking a fool.
Three signs of a fop: the track of his comb in his hair; the tract of his teeth in his food; the track of his stick behind him.
THE PROFITS OF THOSE WHO HAVE GONE AMISS :
There are three things which those who do ill will gain: poverty, bad report, and a bad conscience.
Three things which the insincere will gain: evil life, evil report, and evil end.
Three things which the quarrelsome will gain: strife, shame, and neglect in their necessity.
Three things which the cruel obtain: torturing conscience, dispraise of the wise, and the wrath of the Mighty Ones.
Three things which the ill minded gain: hatred, strife, and sorrow.
Three things which the negligent will gain: shame, loss, and derision.
Three things which the miser obtains through their wealth: pain in gathering, care in keeping, and fear of losing.
Three things which the sluggard will gain: shame, disease, and misery.
RESPECTING WEALTH AND POVERTY:
There are three things a person will gain from acquiring wealth: hate between themselves and others, hate between they and themselves, and hate between themselves and the Mighty Ones.
Three things that are the portion of the wealthy: more and more covetousness, more and more care, and less and less pleasure.
Three things which can come from just wealth: worldly abundance, brotherly charity, and national goodness; and from these the favor of the Mighty Ones.
Three ways leading to poverty: gambling , gluttony , and harlotry.
Three things better than riches: health, freedom, and discretion.
Three things which a person will obtain from poverty: health , learning , and the protection of the Mighty Ones.
Three things which most profit a person: poverty, sickness, and children; for by possessing them they gain knowledge of much truth that cannot be without them.
Three things as good to lose as to gain: extreme prosperity, extreme praise, and extreme dignity. Three earthly losses which bring gain to the soul: loss of a friend, loss of health, and loss of riches.
MISCELLANEOUS WISDOM :
There are three kinds of people: the average person, who does good for good and evil for evil; the good person, who does good for evil; and the evil doer, who does evil for good.
Three things gained by the endurance of the Cailleach: cleansing, purity, and renewal.
Three littles which do much harm: a little of bad disposition, a little of injustice, a little of negligence.
Three things , little of which shows much wisdom: little conceit, little covetousness, and little gossip.
Three littles which make great profit at the time: little of eating and drinking, little of care, and little of tongue.
Three things to be commended in anyone: their face proud, their discourse discreet, and their ways kind.
Three things which make a person wanton: beauty in their form, folly in their head, and conceit in their heart.
Three wrongful contentions: war for war, law for law, and reproach for reproach.
Three upright contentions: prudence for imprudence, favor for disfavor, and love for hatred.
In three things one will be an wrong doer: putting a snare in the way, frightening a little child, and laughing at wrongs done.
There are three falsehoods: a falsehood of speech, falsehood of silence, and falsehood of demeanor; for each one of these will make another believe what they ought not.
Three losses which will bring gain in the end: loss of what is more than life needs, loss of bodily health, and loss of what one prizes the most and above all.
Three gains which will turn to loss in the end: gaining fame for a harmful act, gaining wealth from injustice, and gaining the upperhand in an evil strife.
THE ORDER OF SOCIETY:
There are three levels of society, and they who fill them are: the Draoi and Fili' who are Aes Dana, the Ruada, who are the warriors, and the Aire who are the free people who work husbandry.
The three degrees of Royalty: Righ, Ruiri, Ri' Ruirech
The three seats of the Ri' Ruirech are: Tara, Cruachain, Emain.
Three things which a kings Brughaid must provide without pay: lodging, food, and entertainment.
THE UNDERPINNINGS OF SOCIETY:
There are three foundations of law and custom: order, justice, and peace.
Three things which come from peace: increase of possessions, improvement of manners, and enlargement of knowledge.
THE BANES OF SOCIETY:
There are three things which lay waste the world: a king without counsel, a judge without conscience, and a son without reverence.
Three monstrous things in the world: a youth without civility , a woman without dignity , and a man without conscience.
Three things which war against peace: a bad mate, bad soil, and a bad over-lord.
Three things which turn the world upside-down: a mates' dominance, a daughter's intemperance, and a son's ignorance.
RESPECTING LAND AND HUSBANDRY:
There are three beauties of a land: the granary, the smithy, and the school.
Three other beauties of the land: intelligent tillage, neighbors who agree, and conscientious rule.
Three things which make plenty in a land: planting trees, tilling the soil, and carding and spinning.
Three sustenance's of human kind: hunting, ploughing the land, and merchandise.
Three discontents of a husbandmen: a lazy servant, degenerate seed, and soil over-rich.
There are three things, and any who move them are accursed: the boundary of land, the course of water, and the sign of a road or track.
THE RESPECTABLE CITIZEN:
There are three things which will make a person leader among their neighbors: wisdom, generosity , and wealth.
Three things which bring a person the love of their neighbors: to be a peacemaker, to be a helper, and to be a guide.
Three things which bring a person respect among their neighbors: supporting themselves, being wise in their counsel, and being kind.
Three exertions becoming and praiseworthy for any person : tilling their soil, increasing their knowledge, and growing in excellence.
Three who will be pleasing to the Mighty Ones: a faithful teacher, a good husbandmen, and a mediator in disputes.
Three goodly things among people: handicraft, husbandry, and scholarship.
Three things which follow every lawful person of exceeding excellence: a good name and report for themselves, good instruction for the children where they are, and good progress in everything they undertake in act and deed.
Three for whom when they are alive only hatred is seen, and praise when they are dead: the peaceful wise person, the truthful teacher, and the sincere friend who rebukes.
Three chief obligations of a person to their country and family: to gain possessions by diligence and integrity, to profit their country and their kindred in all they do, and to seek lawful learning wherever they go.
Three things which the good poet preserves for posterity: memory of the praiseworthy, delight in thought, and instruction in knowledge.
THE NOCUOUS CITIZEN:
There are three who are never profitable: they who marry by the counsel of their flesh, they who feast by the counsel of their craving, and they who fight by the counsel of their rage.
Three things of less worth than all else: a woman without dignity, a man without knowledge, and a teacher without patience.
Three things better than riches which happy people keep for their children and heirs: Instruction by reason, instruction by example, and exhortation to act as he does because of the respect and praise it brings him.
Three things which will not benefit heirs: a miser's wealth, the praise of tavern companions, and feats of sport.
Three things which prolong the lifetime of a person: the soil which rears a child, the food which nourishes a child, and play which diverts a child.
Three worldly honors, each one superior to every other: ploughing the family homestead, asserting a claim successfully, and rearing children.
Three aims to the future: planting trees, improving handicraft, and rearing lawful children.
There are three things which mislead the world: the promises of masters, the garments of priests, and the seemliness of a daughter.
Three things which deceive those who trust them: a paramour's promise, a serfs fidelity, and the season of youth.
Three things from which there is nothing but deceit: the love of the wanton, the innocence of dominion, and the piety of one ill in bed.
Three things which ought not to be believed: an old persons dream, a paramour's oath, and a tale without authority.
Three things not easy to trust: a drover's oath, a paramour's promises, and a hunter's word about his dog.
People notable in three things: a miller in thieving, a preacher in begging, and a boaster in telling lies.
Three things hard to obtain: a grave tailor, an honest miller, and an ale-wife not covetous.
Three persons who desire their portion rich and savory: a cook, a concubine, and a kept priest.
Three things which do not profit the world by anything they do, whatever their fame for wisdom, art, and piety: a grasping miser, a arrogant poet, and a kept priest.
Three chicks from one nest: a loquacious farmer, a logical poet, and a half-hearted divine.
Three kinds of contenders on the death of a powerful rich person: their detractors for their reputation, kinsmen for their goods, and worms for their carcass.
Three things good in a miser's eyes: a brass-handled knife, much-patched shoes, and defaming the generous.
Three ways to know a person: by their discourse, their conduct, and their companions.
Three measuring-rods of every person: their dreams, their fears, and their unconcern.
Three hatreds which last for ever: between a mate and their step-children, between dogs and swine, and between Cymry and Saxon.
Three things wrong for any to meddle with: the office of a lord, usury, and war.
Three things hard for any to do: cool the fire, dry the water and please the world.
Three things not easy to obtain when sought: a loan of money from a usurer, without interest; the pleading of a case in court, without fee; and a dinner of rich food in a miser's house.
Three things which pervert just judgment: the love of friends, fear of the mighty , and desire of worldly goods .
Three things not easily found: an arrogant person generous, a young person wise, and an old person mannerly.
Three diversions which will surely bring trouble: hunting , war, and dallying with one who is younger.
Three things necessary to one who enters an inn: a strong head, a tough stomach, and a heavy purse.
Three things one gains in an Inn: entertainment which makes them poor, mirth which makes them do wrongly, and joy which makes them sad.
Three kinds of liar, and there is none other like them: a lord lying for privilege, a priest for office, and a woman for a son whom she loves.
MANIFOLD BLESSINGS AND BENEFICENCE:
Three blessings that do not bring on any either hunger or nakedness: the blessing of their spiritual counselor, the blessing of their rightful lord, and the blessing of a poet of hereditary art.
Three other blessings better than all: the blessing of father and mother, the blessing of the sick and wounded, and the blessing of one in adversity.
Three to whom it is right to give food: the stranger, the solitary, and the orphan.
Three things which cannot be obtained: poverty from alms-giving, wealth from robbery, and wisdom from prosperity.
Three occasions for one to speak falsehood without excuse: to save the life of one who is innocent, to keep the peace among neighbors, and to preserve the Wise and their crafts.
Three things one is loath to leave: the land where they were born and nurtured, the friends whom they have proved true, and the wealth which they have amassed through the labors of their own hands.
Three people who win easily in their lawsuits: the generous, the wise, and the healthy.
Three things by which we may know our neighbor: that he is poor, that he is a stranger, and that he is in the image of human kind.
Three gifts of charity : food, sanctuary, and instruction.
There are three things proper from one who has received kindness: their thanks, their remembrance, and their requital.
Three things for which thanks are due, because that is as easy as reward: an invitation, a gift, and a warning.
Three qualities unbecoming anyone: being importunate in asking, hard in giving, and ill in opinion.
Three things which bring one many invitations: saying little, and that wise and instructive; quiet mirth without great effort; and behaving always without arrogance.
Three things which cause one loss of invitations: eating to much, speaking to much, and asking to much.
Three who ought not to be invited to a house: a flattering deceiver, a scornful mocker, and an envious traitor.
Three things unhandsome at a banquet: a skewer too short, a blunt knife, and a dish out of reach.
Three indignities of one at a feast: coughing in their drink, cutting their hand with a knife, and spilling their broth.
Three improprieties of one at a feast: breaking from every piece in the dish, putting in their mouth more than his companion can respond to, and drinking with his piece in his mouth; and a fourth impropriety: finding fault with the food they eat.
Three meats of the hosteller: boiled flesh, red flesh, living flesh.
Three things never to bring one who has been your host: harm, contention, ill repute.
Three reasons for keeping silent: against saying the thing one ought not, against speaking in the way one ought not, and against speaking in the place one ought not.
Three reasons for speaking, come what may: for instruction against ignorance, counsel against strife, and truth against harmful falsehood.
Three things do no hurt against any: concealing ill manners, controlling passion, and destroying ill intention.
There are three things which one should give freely to guests: gracious accommodation, friendly conversation, and insured safety.
Three elements of gracious accommodation: Cheerful welcome; hot sustenance; and a warm bed.
Three things a guest should never bring to another's house: ill tidings; presumptuous license; and treachery.
Three improprieties of a person at a feast: partaking of every piece on the dish; stuffing the mouth; talking with the mouth full.
Three things all should have on hand for a guest, expected or not: open door, undry cauldron, warm bed.
PERTAINING TO THE DOMICILE
RESPECTING THE GOOD HOME:
There are three things without which one is not whole: a mate, a home, and a craft.
Three things desirable in a household: good order, good knowledge, and sufficient plenty.
Three felicities of a household: and honest watchman, a careful herdsman, and a wise errand-goer.
Three things which make one glad: their mate loving them, their labor prospering, and their conscience easy.
Three things fitting for one when they are at home: their mate laying with them , their cushion in their chair, and their harp in tune.
Three things of great comfort for one to have: their mate in their bed, their fire in their hearth, and their money in their purse.
Three felicities of a wise person: kindly soil, a dedicated mate, and a law-abiding child.
Three things which will exalt a person: a mate dedicated and diligent, a master faithful, and safety.
Three things which help one to get rich: their mate saving, their family not wasting, and themselves laboring.
Three things which make a marriage happy: equality of age, equality of lineage, and equality of possessions.
Three felicities of a person and their mate: being merry at home, good in their relations with the Mighty Ones, and mediators among their neighbors.
Three things one gains when their mate endeavors to be excellent: their household peaceful for love of them, their children gentle in manners, and the respect of their neighbors.
Three things a person gains when their mate endeavors to be excellent: peace of mind, wellness of body, and stable prosperity.
Three treasures of the child in a good home: truth, love, and growth.
Three things in a person which makes their mate a leader among their neighbors: skill, industry, and wisdom.
Three things which bring dignity to a person: discretion in speech, contentment in the life they lead, and being peaceful among their neighbors.
Three things which makes one content with their dinner: their mate clever, their food savory, and their stomach healthy.
Three things pleasant to one at their dinner: a sharp-edged knife, a sharp-pointed skewer, and a clean plate.
RESPECTING THE BAD HOME:
There are three uncomfortable things: a house without a mate, a chamber without food, and a body without health.
Three things which make disorder in a household: the man drunken, the wife execrable, the children intractable.
Three things that one is better without: a dishonest household, disobedient children, a drunken mate.
Three things which will drive one from their house: their mate quarreling, their roof leaking, and their chimney smoking.
Three infelicities of a household: an idle doer of ill, keeping a paramour, and lodging a priest.
Three things which make one needy: Their mate luxurious, their household negligent, and themselves extravagant.
Three things which bring a mate hate instead of love: peevishness, desire of dominance, and the pampering of their own stomach.
Three things which bring on one the worlds disrespect and their mates' hatred: lying long in the morning, being stubborn, and bringing a paramour into their house.
Three indignities of a woman: being garrulous, being querulous, and being slanderous.
Three indignities of a man: being quick to suspicion, being quick to anger, being slow to labor.
Three things which bring on a person a bad opinion : being apt to dally with youths, being greedy in dainties, and speaking ill of their neighbors.
PERTAINING TO THE DRAOI AND FILI', FOR ALL WHOM ARE ABLE TO MEDIATE THE GODS
Three improprieties of one who is Draoi or Fili' : To claim as their own work, what the Gods have done through them; to demand gain or pleasure as a servant of the Mighty Ones; to allow themselves to be kept by labor that is not their own.
There are three duties of one who is Draoi or Fili': to teach their people to live fearless in strength, to teach their people how to avoid the attention of the Mighty Ones, and to teach their people the Laws of Nature.
PERTAINING TO CONTRACTS AND AGREEMENTS
Three things necessary for a contract to be made: mutual agreement, mutual understanding, and mutual consent; and there is a fourth and that is surety given.
There are three types of surety: Naidn, Aitire, Rath.
There are three things in a contract which need special attention: that which is explicit, that which is implicit, and that which has been forgotten.
There are three foundations to mutual agreement: that there be nothing hidden, that there be no malicious intent, that there be no coercion.
There are three things due one who has had a contract broken: loss, loss from loss , and honor price.
There are three types of contract, all binding before the Mighty Ones and before human kind: that which is established by the spoken word, that which is established by the written word, and that which is ordained by the Righ or Rian .
Three types of profit: from producing, from investing, from a good reputation.
Three types of investment: goods, money, and time.
There are three levels of honor price: one third the value of the agreement when one has defaulted on a contract because of something beyond their control;
Three times the value of the contract when one has defaulted by their own volition or slothfulness, and no malice was intended; nine times the value of the contract when one has defaulted on a contract by an act of their own volition, with malice intent.
GOOD HEALTH AND BAD:
There are three things most precious to human kind: health, liberty, and virtue.
Three things which do not suffer trifling: health, prosperity, and time.
Three things which keep a person in good health: moderate food, well-apportioned labor, and natural warmth.
Three foods which bring health, long life, and clear understanding: corn food, milk food, and garden food.
Three foods which bring disease, short life, and dull understanding: flesh food, sweetened food, and highly seasoned food.
Three customary acts which make one healthy and long-lived: work, by tilling, in moderation; rising early; innocent mirth.
Three customary acts which bring short life and disease: to much labor, too much sleep in the morning, and peevishness.
Three frequent changes which bring long life: change of food, change of work, and change of amusement.
Three good things in one who loves good health: enough sleep at Bealtine (in Spring), enough food at Mean samhradh (at Mid-Summer), enough fire at Geamhradh (in the Winter).
Three things which strengthen the body: lying on a hard bed, cold air, and dry food.
Three things whose excess shortens ones life: flesh food, drunkenness, and too much dallying about with those of the opposite gender.
Three unfailing remedies in every disease and sickness: nature, time, and patience.
Three things of which one does not see half enough: life, health, and riches.
ADVISEMENT'S OF PRUDENCE:
Three things one who is prudent will not show: the bottom of their purse, the bottom of their knowledge , and the bottom of their heart.
Three things which one who is upright ought to curb: a young spirited horse, a young intemperate daughter, and a garrulous tongue.
Three things like one to the other: a fine granary without corn, a fine flask without drink, and a fine daughter without good repute.
Three things not good to leave: a ship before the wind, a woman to her rage, and a son to his ignorance.
Three things which do not go well if hurried: war, feasting, and argument.
Three things which a person obtains from traveling in strange land: hunger, cold, and derision.
Three things trust in which does not end well: health in old age, fair weather in winter, and felicity from things of the world.
Three things it is best to leave alone: a strange dog, a sudden flood, and one wise in their own eyes.
RESPECTING THE ORDER OF NATURE:
There are three things which keep order and system for everything in the world: number, weight, and measure.
Three things which we cannot control: the Void , the planets , and truth. To this be it added, The Truth Against The World.
Three things good as servants, bad as masters: water, fire, and wind.
Three more things worse yet as masters than as servants: labor, money, and kings.
Three things which shall lay waste where they come: water, fire and the curse of the Mighty Ones.
Three arch-enemies of human kind: fire, water, and a king.
Three gluttons of the world: the sea, a king, and a city.
Three things no being can be seen without: covering, movement, and shadow.
Three things which should be chiefly considered in everything: nature, form, and work.
Three unequals of the world: beauty, love, and necessity.
Three parts to everything : He One , She One , They One in the Third.
RESPECTING THE NATURE OF HUMANKIND:
There are three things that are never at rest in anyone: the heart in working, the breath in moving, and the soul in purposing.
Three things in the world between which there is a wonderful difference: the faces of people, the utterances of people, and the writings of people.
There are three from which it is not easy to win a person: their belief, their genius, and their nation.
Three things on which every person should reflect: whence they come, where they are, and whither they shall go.
Three things hard for a person to do completely: know themselves, conquer their appetite, and keep their secret.
Three things a person cannot conceal: great love, great hate, and great wealth.
Three things of which the whole is not good: doing the whole that passion desires, believing the whole that is said throughout the land, and showing the whole that one knows.
Three martyrdoms without slaying: the liberality of a needy person, the innocence of a young person, and fair maintenance without wealth.
Three things of which the loss is woe: the attainments of wisdom, a pure conscience, and the love of Mighty Ones.
Three fears which strengthen a person's heart: fear of speaking the whole that they have learnt from another, fear of extreme prosperity, and fear of offending the Mighty Ones.
Three fears which weaken a person's heart: fear of speaking the truth, fear of wretched poverty, and fear of evil being done them.
Three things which dazzle the world: deceit, supremacy, and excessive love for man and human beings.
Three counsels of the yellow bird: do not grieve greatly about what has happened, do not believe what cannot be, and do not desire what cannot be obtained.
Three things which come on a person without their knowing: sleep, error, and old age.
Three things which come together: age, error, and grief.
Three things which keep their word faithfully: death, retribution, and remorse.
Three things the true human obeys: truth, the world which is to come, and the cock at dawn.
Three things of which not the half is to be believed that is boasted of them: wealth, understanding, and goodness.
Three things that never end: the flowering of charity, the soul, and perfect love.
RESPECTING ACTION :
Three things necessary for the doing of every act: knowledge, ability, and desire.
There are three parts to every action: thought, word, and deed.
RESPECTING KNOWLEDGE :
Three kinds of knowledge: the nature of each thing, the cause of each thing, the influence of each thing.
There are three springs of knowledge: reason, phenomenon, and necessity.
Three things must a person do who desires to learn: listen intently, contemplate intently, and be silent continually.
Three teachers of humankind: one is event, that is from seeing and hearing; the second is intelligence, and that comes from reflection and meditation; and the third is genius, individual, a gift from the Mighty Ones.
Three gains of those who heed the advisements of the Old Ones: illumination, wisdom, and clarity.
Three instructions not wise to believe: what a person imparts in support of what is for their own profit and success; what one imparts with hatred to another; and what a person wise in their own eyes imparts.
The three qualifications of poetry: endowment of genius; judgment from experience; happiness of mind.
The three foundations of Judgement: bold design; frequent practice; frequent mistakes.
The three foundations of learning: seeing much; studying much; and suffering much.
The three foundations of thought: perspicuity, amplitude, and preciseness.
The three canons of perspicuity: the word that is necessary, the quantity that is necessary, the manner that is necessary.
The three canons of amplitude: appropriate thought, variety of thought, and requisite thought.
There are three things which strengthen the mind and reason: seeing much, reflecting much, and enduring much.
Three resources of human kind: intelligence, love, and homage to the Mighty ones.
There are three foundations of wisdom: discretion in learning, memory in retaining, and eloquence in telling.
Three concords for wisdom: generosity and wealth, knowledge and humility, and valor and mercy; and they are neither a true human nor sage in whom these things are not found in concord.
Three marks of wisdom: simplicity, endeavor, and long-suffering.
Three securities of wisdom: memory, reflection, and custom.
Three qualities which show wisdom: suffering discreetly, forgiving injury, and seeking knowledge.
Three followers of wisdom: imagination, purpose, and endeavor.
Three demonstrations of wisdom: holding to reason, holding to imagination, and holding to improvement.
Three synonyms of wisdom: necessity, decency, and expediency.
Three things which obstruct wisdom: pride, covetousness, and timorousness.
Three special virtues of wisdom: generosity, industry, and prudence.
Three initiations of wisdom: lawful teaching, effective customs, and instinctive love.
Three operations of wisdom : taming savagery, spreading peace, and improving laws.
RESPECTING THOSE WHO ARE WISE:
There are three schools of one who is wise: conscience, reason, and instruction.
Three things essential for the wise to know: their Gods, themselves, and the deceits of the world.
Three things that one who is wise attains: prosperity, dignity, and joy.
Three triumphs of one who is wise: dignity, intuition, and praise.
Three things of which one who is wise may boast: their understanding, their handicraft, and that which they have mastered.
Three plagues of the wise: a young lover, the drink, and bad temper.
RESPECTING THE FOOL AND THEIR INANITY:
There are three schools of the foolish person: the punishment of the law, ill happenings in their life, and a bad position in the life to come.
Three things which befall the unwise person: failure, disgrace, and sorrow.
Three boasts of a fool: riches, lineage, and dissipation.
Three laughters of a fool: about the good man, about the evil man, and about what he knows not.
Three things which the fool calls imprudent: to seek knowledge, come what will; to give alms without thinking what is to come; and to endure for truth and justice without fear of what may come.
RESPECTING WISDOM APPLIED:
Three things of which everything is capable, and without which nothing can be: strength of body and mind, knowledge, and love of intuitive wisdom.
Three things which may not be opposed: nature, necessity, and decay.
Three who are hard to believe: a wanderer from afar, the reader of a book in a strange tongue, and they who are older than their neighbors.
Three who it is wise not to believe: the stranger about their possessions, and old person praising the day that was of yore, and one who boasts of their wisdom.
There are three concords which uphold all things: concord of love and justice, concord of truth and imagination, and concord of the Mighty Ones and occurrence.
Three words of counsel from Teilo the Draoi: know thy power, know thy wisdom, and know thy time.
Three people who will please the Mighty Ones: they who love everything living with their whole heart, they who love every beautiful thing with their whole strength, and they who seek every knowledge with their whole understanding.
Three things between which there is great difference: what is praised and what is forgiven, what is forgiven and what is suffered, and what is suffered and what is not punished.
RESPECTING AMBITIONS AND THE ROADS TO SUCCESS:
Three things all should strive for: Oneness with their Gods and or Goddess'; peace among neighbors; and just judgment.
Three things which help avert calamity: to worship the Mighty Ones, to be upright, and to exercise fortitude.
Three things by which comes success: Listen humbly , answer discreetly, and judge kindly.
Three foundations of success: a silent mouth, a careful ear, and a fitting action.
The three foundations of friendship are: Respect and trust; understanding and forbearance, a loving heart and helpful hands.
Three things for a friend: let them be to you a second self, let not their misery estrange you from them, do for their memory what you would do if they yet lived.
The three foundations of happiness: contentment; hope, and belief (faith).
There are three things which the happy will gain: prosperity, honor, and ease of conscience.
Three purposes for the return of souls to this world : To collect into the soul the properties of all being , to acquire knowledge of all things , to acquire the power to overcome chaos.
Three things which continually grow less : darkness , falsehood, and death. Three things constantly increase : light , life , and truth.
There are three who judge: the judgment we place upon ourselves , which lingers long; the judgment of our peers, through the king, which lingers short; and the judgment of the Mighty Ones , and this swift, sure, and just .
There are three only , whose frenzy is a benefit to their people: The Warrior on the field of battle, the Dancer in the place of dance, and the Seeker of Justice where ever they may be.
RESPECTING THE TRUE HUMAN:
The three highest causes of the true human are: Truth, honor, and duty.
The three manifestations of the true human are: civility, generosity, and compassion.
The three foundations of Spirituality: Hearth as altar, work as worship, and service as sacrament.