On this day in 1367: Britain passes 'Statute of Kilkenny', which banned Irish language and culture in Ireland
Irish History

On this day in 1367: Britain passes 'Statute of Kilkenny', which banned Irish language and culture in Ireland

IT'S not as if the notion of Britain trying to push Ireland around is historically uncommon, but did you know that 650 years ago, the King of England effectively tried to eradicate mainstream Irish culture altogether?

On April 19, 1367, the Statute of Kilkenny was signed into law, which threatened to completely suppress the way of life of the Irish natives.

The Statute was a set of laws aimed to protect and strengthen the English colony in Ireland, due to fears that colonists had become indoctrinated into Irish culture, so much so that the British stranglehold on the country was under threat ... supposedly.

Anglo-Irish settlers were banned from doing anything Irish. They were suddenly banned from fraternising with the natives, from marrying them, from speaking their language, from wearing their clothes and even from listening to their music.

The English found taking over Ireland quite difficult. The first settlers quickly began to sympathise and bond with the natives, and viewed the world in the same way they did.

They began to put their own interests ahead of those of the English royalty, much to the concern of he Brits, who were keen to stamp out any movement toward independence or relinquishment of power.

Edward III of England became concerned that the Anglo-Irish were becoming too powerful and threatened his rights and interests in Ireland, and so sent his son, Lionel of Antwerp, to Ireland to try and take back control.

Concerned that the Anglo-Irish had become more Irish than the Irish themselves, the Statute of Kilkenny was set up to bring Ireland back under the control of English born nobles, not English descendants in Ireland. The Statute was passed following a meeting of the Irish parliament in Kilkenny.

To break any one of the Statute's laws was to be guilty of treason and was punishable by death.

Following the Statue, it was illegal for any Anglo-Irish person to:

  • Marry an Irish person
  • Adopt an Irish child
  • Use an Irish name
  • Wear Irish clothes
  • Speak the Irish language
  • Play Irish music
  • Listen to Irish story-tellers
  • Play Irish games
  • Let an Irish person join an English religious house
  • Appoint any Irish clergyman to any church in the English settlement
  • Ride a horse in Irish style, that is, without a saddle.

But because the Irish government was so weak, following battles with Edward Bruce, and the arrival of the Black Death, the new laws weren't enforced properly, and thankfully, the Anglo-Irish simply ignored them.