A Guide to Early Irish Law by Fergus Kelly

By Fergus Kelly

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If the brithem fulfils some of the functions of a modern judge, the aignel37 can be equated with the modern barrister or advocate. l38 n"iad 178 stresses the wisdom of employing a good advocate (dagaigne) to plead one's case. 139 Though the texts make a clear distinction14Obetween aigne and brithem, it is probable that both received the same basic training in the law-schools. According to Conell Mageoghagan,141this was the case in 16th century Gaelic Ireland. Using the term brehon to cover both types of lawyer, he remarks 'This fenechus or brehon law is none other than the sivil law, which the brehons had to themselves in an obscure & unknown language, which none could understand 135 136 137 138 139 140 With some doubt I take cuim/echta to be gen.

T identify the MCfholies. A family by the name of Mac 1Uile or Mac an ~lle (angl.. ~aCThllY, MacAntully, MacAtilla, Thlly, Flood) acted as hereditary phYSICiansto the O'Reillys of Breifne and the O'Connors of <;onn~cht (MacLysaght, Irish Families (Dublin 1957) 278-9) but I have found no evidence that they were also involved in law. 3. icized as 'oylegeag', the judge's fee is mentioned in documents in the English language. Thus a jury of Waterford in 1537 found that the widow of Lord Power 'hath ordeyned an Irishe judge called Shane McClaunaghe and that the said Shane useth Brehens lawe and ordreth the matters of variannce o~ the cou:nt~emoche after her wille and commaundement, and taketh for th use of his Judgement called Oylegeag, xvi d.

This implies the existence of clerical airchinnig. In later times the airchinnech (anglicized errmagh) is a layman who holds church lands from the bishop in return for rent and refection. See CEIS 223; Peritia 3 (1984) 159; and J. Barry 'The distinction between coarb and erenagh' in Irish Ecclesiastical Record 94 (1960) 90-5. 2-3. 13-9. 20-6. 30 IP 80 §21. is not obliged to pay any fmes or debts incurred by his son. of penance, depending on the nature of the offence. ••layman. He must go into exile for ten years, of which seven are spent in penance and abstinence.

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