I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found fasting on the first Wednesday of every month extremely difficult. And the ban on drinking and swearing on Sundays? Almost impossible to uphold.
Thank goodness that these, along with over 4,000 other old government regulations and orders, are now to be repealed by Irish Minister for Reform, Brendan Howlin.
Last September, Minister Howlin announced his intention to revoke thousands of rules and regulations set out in Ireland pre-independence. Yesterday saw the start of the Statute Law Repeal Bill’s journey through the Dáil to get things started.
Among the laws is a declaration from 1661 that bans "drunkenness, cursing, swearing and profaning on the Lord's Day". Won’t it be nice to legally have a glass of wine with our Sunday dinner now?
In possibly the best news to come from this development, Ireland will also finally be allowed to overthrow King James II, the last Catholic King of Ireland. Yes, King Jimmy can no longer claim his hold over us from his 300-year plus grave. Freedom at last!
All of the orders set to be revoked are now regarded as ancient and obsolete and play no further role in the governing of modern-day Ireland.
Did you know, for instance, that in 1666 we declared war against Denmark, and in 1744, war against France? We really should have settled our differences sooner.
On the announcement of the largest repeal measure in the history of the State last September, Minister Howlin said "Statute law revision is the process by which spent or obsolete legislation is removed from the statute book. The removal leads to a more accessible statute book and will pave the way for further simplification and modernization measures."
"The process and work of the Statute Law Revision Programme to date, has been strongly supported by outside observers such as the OECD, and is included in the Programme for Government and the Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016," he continued.
In a nod to the Irish Famine, we see a Proclamation of 1817, reserving oatmeal and potatoes for consumption by the “lower orders of people," will finally be repealed, although well over a century too late. Many restrictions on Catholics in the country are also to be removed, such a 1697 offer of reward for anybody who managed to apprehend "any Popish Dignitary or Jesuit".
A few of the weirdest, funniest and most infuriating laws include:
- An Order from January 1801 setting out the styles, titles and arms of the United Kingdom
- A Proclamation of 1690 prohibiting officers and soldiers from engaging in duels
- A Proclamation of 1676 which concerned the hearing of claim of persons transplanted to Connaught and Clare
- A Proclamation of 1668 offering a pardon and reward for taking dead or alive named rebels who fail to surrender by a designated date
- A Proclamation of 1819 directing that all shipping from Boston, New York and Baltimore should be subject to quarantine
- An Order of 1801 providing for a general fast and thanksgiving in England and Ireland
- An Order of 1815 providing that a prayer of thanksgiving be offered for the victory at the Battle of Waterloo
- A Proclamation of 1665 appointing the first Wednesday of every month as a day of fasting and humiliation on account of the bubonic plague in London
Have you heard of any other weird Irish laws? Let us know in the comments section below.