IRELAND - church and state - a short history
"Oh Ireland my first and only love where Christ and Caesar go hand in glove" James Joyce.

Ireland has a long and very complex history - made more complex because so many people and groups have written their own versions of it - for their own purposes. My relationship with the country of my birth is also complex and  complicated. Disgusted with England for the suffering it put Ireland through for so many centuries, and yet today its people seems to have forgotten, or have no idea what was done there in their name. Angry and disappointed with our new republic Ireland for becoming so conservative after our hard fought Independence, when we had the possibility of developing into a modern open minded tolerant and accepting society. Freedom - Liberty - Fraternity wasn,t that the idea?
Technology is developing at break neck speed, but the human is sometimes slow in developing - trapped and conditioned by old outmoded opinions and dogmas which often belong to someone else. It is ok of course to be totally conservative or liberal in your beliefs, but once you start to push and force other people to play along and conform to some of these concepts then it pecomes a problem, a problem of interference, interfering in someone elses private space.
  Ireland with its constant referendums and voting on matters regarding relationships sex and sexuality - condoms divorce abortion and gay marriage (matters concerning ones own private and informed conscience) does not represent me as a modern liberal and open minded individual.
Abortion is a very difficult issue, I understand and feel sorry for the groups on both sides of the fence, the pro life lobby and the pro choice. Everyone is pro life, but unfortunately life is often complex, and does not offer simple choices. Its not right for people to tell others what to do, or pass judgement. Leave that to God, if that is who you believe in. The people I really feel sorry for are the women who find themselves for what ever reason in difficult circumstances. They need support, love compassion respect - not screaming crowds of one group or another marching on the Dáil or Parliament.
Why should the whole of Ireland take a vote to decide what a person should be allowed to do or not do concerning his or her private life and the life of his or her family. People like myself who are not Roman Catholic should simply be left alone to make our own decisions, and let the church speak quietly to its own flock, without all this noise and hype which has been going on for years now. Its about tolerance and respect for others.
I am certainly no writer, but feel compelled to write my own very short history of Ireland here, (with the assistance of some notable writers and historians) to discover how it is that Ireland (in my view) is still conservative and hung up with regard to all things and women.
(this story will be written section for section, when I have the time)

The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods,rivers, mountains,lakes,cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged and numerous senses could perceive.
And particularly they studied the genius of each city and country, placing it under its mental deity;
Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of, and enslav,ed the vulgar by attempting to realise or abstract the mental deities from their objects: thus began Priesthood;
Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.
And at length they pronounc,d that the Gods had order,d such things.
Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.

William Blake.

Before the christian era, Ireland was remote from mainland Europe, and had a very rich and ancient culture. The annals of old stated that there were six major invasions of Ireland after the flood. The two groups I find the most interesting are the Dedannan and the Milesians. The Dedannan (tribe of the goddess Dana) were an aristocratic and noble race of people apparently kicked out of Persia for conducting magic. Ireland today is littered with hills and mountains named after their deities, such as: Knockainy in Limerick after Aine, the daughter of a Dedannan Chieftan, and Clidna (Cleena) the potent banshee that ruled as queen over the fairies in south Munster. Brigit daughter of the Dagda was the Goddess of Poets and wisdom. She had two sisters also called Brigit; one the goddess of medicine the other of smithwork. The proud Dedannan were conquered by the more material Milesians and were condemed to live underground in Ireland after their defeat. From their underground domain they became the sídhe (shee) the fairies - a supernatural force respected and feared in Irish folklore and tradition. There were places where you should not dig the land or cut the trees for fear of encuring their wrath.
(from: P.W. Joyce. Ancient Ireland)

The Irish were close to nature and had many festivals celebrating the turning of the year and the seasons. These was Samhain:
 Winter, where life meets death, day meets night. From Samhain comes all Hallows/Halloween. When the supernatural world for a short time opens up to ours.
 Spring season. Purification related to Brigit godess of fertility.
 May beginning of summer. Festival of light and fire.
August. Festival of Lugh God of light - war.

Ancient Law:
Law formed a most important factor both in public and private life in ancient Ireland and by the 9th century it was highly developed. Called the Brehon Law, the Brehon or Judge had to go through a long and well-defined course of study and training. These laws were were highly complex and detailed and impacted on everyone,s lives from the very lowest in society to the high king. Among the many and complex laws there was the procedure of redress, by fasting: where anyone seeking justice would sit ouside the door of the wrong doer, until justice was achieved. This was perhaps the origin of the hunger strike which is often used in modern times. I once heard a professor on BBC Radio claiming that the hunger strikes in the Maze prison originated from some ancient custom in the Irish Roman Catholic Church - from what I have read I see it has its origins in the ancient Irish Brehon Laws, preceeding christanity.
In ancient Ireland free women like men (as distinguished from slaves) held a good position in society: and it may be said that as to social rights and property they were in most respects quite on a level with men. Supposing the joint property had gone on increasing in value during married life; then at seperation the couple divided the whole fairly, and in proportion to the original contribution.
When you read the Brehon laws you can see straight away how sophisticated and advanced the society and its laws were for its time, in comparison to the later feudal system.
´´ for there is no nation of people under the sunne that doth love equall and indifferent (impartial) justice betten then the Irish; or will rest better satisfied with the execution thereof, although it bee against themselves: so that they may have the protection and benefit of the law, when uppon just cause they do desire it``
Sir John Davies- an Englishman - the Irish Attorney General to James I.
But later on the English Penal Laws changed all that, and turned the Irish natural love of justice into hatred and distrust of law.
(from: P.W. Joyce. Ancient Ireland.
Like the ancient Greeks the Irish were constantly at war with each other, and our mythology is full of stories regarding bravery in battle and its heros. The fact that the Irish were constantly fighting between themselves and never really developed the concept of a united nation against a common enemy, was to have devasting consequences later on.

The coming of Christanity to Ireland:
Brigit being the Goddess of the earth and fertility, Dana being the goddess of abundance, procreation / sex was a natural part of normal healthy life in ancient Ireland. During one of the seasonal festivals, Beltane or Lughnasadh where young people would meet and celebrate, it was customary, if they liked each other, that they could choose to be together for a year and see how the relationship worked out. If they were happy together they could stay together, if not they could part company - no big deal - nothing ventured nothing gained, so to speak. With the coming of St partick all these ´´liberal´´ attitudes towards sex and relationships were to change.

He is coming, Adzed-Head,
on the wild-headed sea
with cloak hollow-headed
and curve-headed staff.

He will chant false religion
at a bench facing East
and his people will answer
Amen, amen.´

6th century poem Anonymous. (from the Irish)

Before St Patrick came to Ireland christanity had already been intoduced. Pope Celestine had sent Palladius to be the first Bishop of the Irish, so there must have been considerable numbers when the Pope thought a Bishop necessary. However the great body of the Irish were pagans when Patrick arrived in 432; and to him belongs the glory of converting them.
The Brehons had collections of laws in volumes or tracts, and they were written in the oldest dialect of the Irish language, called the: 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. In the year 438 a collection of the pagan laws was called for by St Patrick so that they could be studied, and anything that clashed with Christian doctrine would be excluded.
(from: P.W. Joyce. Ancient Ireland)
He was very fast at grafting almost seamlessly the new religion onto the old, where over a short period of time the church recieved land and secured many obligations from the Irish tribes,which was unknown elsewhere. For example ´´First-lings´´ the church had a claim of service from the first born son, or the second son if the first born was a daughter. If the family had ten children the church had a claim on a second son.
 Patrick was for me more a brillant Roman burocrat than a saint.
 This was the start, the beginning, in Ireland, where the ancient laws were changed, where the old ´religion´ which respected the necessary and vital male and female aspects in nature, was to be slowly replaced by the dry abstaining male sexless and celibate dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. The ´active´ female goddesses, the givers of life and abundance were to be replaced by a virgin so that men could take control and seperated the people from their Gods Goddesses nature and themselves.

Abstinence sows sand all over
The ruddy limbs and flaming hair,
But desire Gratified
Plants fruits of life and beauty there

Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn, no longer in deadly,
with hoarse note curse the sons of joy. Nor his accepted brethren--
whom, tyrant, he calls free - lay the bound or build the roof. Nor
pale religious letchery call that virginity that wishes but acts not!
For everything that lives is holy.
William Blake.

The early church fathers were to put their own personal and male stamp on the future developement of the church. One of the most influencial was St Augustine. Being influenced by people who came before, the Greeks / Stoics / scholasticism, it is no surprise that the church under his guidance should develope in such an arid and dogmatic way.
Socrates, Plato Aristotle.
 Plato,s Phaedo for example discusses the relationship between body and soul, the impure body tainting and being a burden to the soul so that it is forever enslaved and will never be free.

 We probably think today, it was inevitable that the church should have developed in such an ´´anti sex´´ and ´´ anti body´´ erection, I mean direction. Not so, other scholars at the time of St Augustine were against some of his ideas regarding sex and sin. Here are some paragraphs and texts (shortened) from Wikipedia (internet) and Encyclopaedia Britannica:

Original sin of Adam and Eve.
They would not have fallen into pride and lack of wisdom, if Satan hadn,t sown into their senses ´´the root of evil´´. Their nature was wounded by concupiscence or libido, which affected human intelligence and will, as well as affections and desires, including sexual desire.
Augustine,s understanding of the consequences of original sin and of the necessity of the redeeming grace was developed in the struggle against Pelagius and his desciples. They refused to agree that the libido wounded human will and mind, insisting that human nature was given the power to act, to speak, and to think when God created it.
Pelagians insisted that human affections and desires were not touched by the fall either.
Immorality, e.g. fornication, is exclusively a matter of will, i.e. a person does not use natural desires in a proper way. In opposition to that, Augustine pointed out to the apparent disobedience of the flesh to the spirit, and explained it as one of the results of original sin, punishment of Adam and Eve,s disobedience to God.
Augustine had served as a ´´Hearer´´ for the Manichaeans for about nine years, who taught that original sin was carnal knowledge.
Augustine,s statement on Mary surpass in number and depth those of other early writers. Even before the Council of Ephesus, he defended the ever Virgin Mary as the Mother of God, who, because of her virginity, is full of grace. Likewise, he affirmed that the Virgin Mary ´´conceived as virgin, gave birth as virgin and stayed virgin forever´´.

Augustine taught that human sexuality has been wounded, together with the whole of human nature, and requires redemption of Christ. That healing is a process realized in the conjugal acts. The redemption of human sexuality well be, however, fully accomplished only in the resurrection of the body. The sin of Adam is inherited by all human beings. Augustine taught that Original Sin was transmitted by concupiscence, which he regarded as the passion of both, soul and body, making humanity a massa damnata (mass of perdition, condemned crowd) and much enfeebling, though not destroying, the freedom of the will.
Augustine,s formulation of the doctrine of original sin was confirmed at numerous councils:
i.e. Carthage (418), Ephesus (431), Orange (529), Trent (1546), and by Popes, i.e. Pope Innocent 1 (401-417) and Pope Zosimus (417-418). Anselm of Canterbury established in his Cur Deus Homo the definition that was followed by the great School men.
I have left in these texts so that you get an idea about about Augustine and his thinking. How can St Augustine have known Gods mind so well or presumed so much, for someone who was a mortal human being like you and I? Where was his Christian humility in all this knowing and scholastic arrogance? which has effected the whole human race for centuries so profoundly, and caused so many problems, by turning all this intellectual reasoning and hair splitting into Canon Law, Church teaching, and dogma.

 His ideas about women.
For Augustine, the evil of sexual immorality was not in the sexual act itself, but rather in the emotions that typically accompany it. In On Christian Doctrine Augustine contrasts love, which is enjoyment on account of God, and lust, which is not on account of God. For Augustine, proper love exercises a denial of selfish pleasure and the subjugation of corporeal desire to God. 
Augustine's view of sexual feelings as sinful affected his view of women. For example he considered a man’s erection to be sinful, though involuntary, because it did not take place under his conscious control. His solution was to place controls on women to limit their ability to influence men.
He believed that the serpent approached Eve because she was less rational and lacked self-control, while Adam's choice to eat was viewed as an act of kindness so that Eve would not be left alone. Augustine believed sin entered the world because man (the spirit) did not exercise control over woman (the flesh). ! ! !
According to Raming, the authority of the Decretum Gratiani, a collection of Roman Catholic canon law which prohibits women from leading, teaching, or being a witness, rests largely on the views of the early church fathers—one of the most influential being St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo. The laws and traditions founded upon St. Augustine's views of sexuality and women continue to exercise considerable influence over church doctrinal positions regarding the role of women in the church.

The rewriting of these ancient laws of Ireland which were to conform with christian doctrine took three years to complete. According to the Annals of the Four Masters: Nine people over saw the work: Laeghaire King of Ireland and two lesser kings - Patrick and his two Bishops - Ross, Dubhthach and Fearghus the three Brehons, Bards Poets.
Of course now that these new laws were actually written down, all had changed, and the power instantly transferred to the new religion.
In the year 664 the Synod of Whitby in England was called, where Ireland and its more ´´primitive´´
christian religion was brought even more into line with the Rome.

Year 1171:The coming of the Church and the English into Ireland:
Henry II king of England Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine was a busy man, always on the move through his dominions. He had an interest in going to Ireland at some point, fearing that some knights already there might consolidate too much control and power, and become too independent. On coming to power Henry had sanctioned an invasion from the first English Pope Adrian II. The Pope himself wanted an expedition to Ireland for his purposes, namely to bring the monastic establishment and the Monks to heel, and put the real power and control in his own hands. Any reform in Ireland was hopeless without the support of a strong secular authority. To encourage a seemingly hesitant king Pope Adrian II wrote the following:

Adrian the bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his most dearly beloved son in Christ, the illustrious king of the English, greetings and apostolic benediction.
Laudably and profitably does your magnificence contemplate extending your glorious name on earth and laying up a reward of eternal happiness in heaven, inasmuch as you endeavour like a catholic prince to enlarge the boundaries of the Church, to expound the truth of the Christian faith to ignorant and barbarous peoples, and to root out the seeds of vice from the lord,s field; and for the better execution of this, you seek the advice and favour of the apostolic see. .........................................
And so it went on.

The next Pope Alexander III welcoming Henry,s arrival and intervention in Ireland wrote with enthusiasm to his Irish Bishops, to the Irish ´kings and princes´´ and to Henry himself hailing it as the will of God:
´´how great are the enormities of vice with which the people of Ireland are infected, and how they have departed from the fear of God and the established practice of the Christian faith, so that souls have been placed in peril. We have further learned from your letters that Henry, the noble king of the English, our dearest son in Christ, moved by inspiration from God and summoning all his strength, has subjugated this barbarous and uncouth race which is ignorant of divine law; and through his power those forbidden things which used to be practised in your lands, now begin to diminish.
...............Therefore we order and command............that you zealously and powerfully assist the aforesaid king (who is a man of majesty and a devoted son of the church) to maintain and keep that land............

From: W.L.Warren,s HENRY II.

The English poured into Ireland where their clever policy of divide and conquer worked a treat. The Irish unfortunately for themselves had no real concept of nationhood and so the incoming knights would take different sides with different clans carving up land for themselves as they went along. These Barons and knights living and fighting outside the pale of Dublin started not only to intermarry with the native Irish but also to speak their language and adapt their laws and customs. This caused alarm among the English in Dublin and London and strict laws were passed to prevent it continuing any further.
The Statues of Kilkenny 1366: many English of the said land, forsaking the English language, manners, mode of riding,laws and usages, live and govern themselves according to the manners, fashion, and langauge of the Irish enemies; and have also made divers marriages and alliances between themselves and the Irish  enemies aforesaid; whereby the said land, and the liege people thereof, the English language, the allegiance due to our lord the king, and the english laws there, are put in subjection and decayed..

The statues tried to prevent this "middle nation", which was neither true English or Irish, by reasserting English culture among the English settlers.
Other statues required that the English in Ireland be governed by English common law, instead of the Irish March law or Brehon Law and ensured the separation of the Irish and English churches by requiring that "no Irishman of the nation of the Irish be admitted into any cathedral or collegiate church.....amongst the English of the land"

So much for spreading the divine word of love and Christanity!
Ireland was Roman Catholic and the invading English were Roman Catholic - yet as we can see the " uncouth and barbarous" Irish were already the enemy, and not allowed to worship in the same church as the English settlers. It was to get worse.

The Tudors and the English Reformation.

The Poet Dante 1265 - 1321 claimed that the church became corrupt once it became the official religion of the empire and began to acquire wealth. The first popes possesed nothing, the first rich pope was Silvester pope from 314 to 355.
In the Inferno Dante speaks of three Popes who were condemned for making a mockery of holy office. Just as they through corruption made a mockery of the baptismal font, so they were condemned in hell to be shoved head first into one. (they were man size in those days) Their feet sticking upwards and aflame, just as they mocked the holy water and oil used in Extreme Unction.
Canto X1X. The Inferno. John Ciardi.
In Saxony Germany Johann Tetzel 1465 - 1519 was grand comissioner for indulgences in Germany. He was accused amongst other things of selling full forgiveness for sins not yet comitted, which caused a great scandal. Indulgence money was used to reconstruct St Peters in Rome and pay costs for the Archbishop of Mainz.
Martin Luther was to start the German Reformation because of all this corruption in the Church.
Henry V111 in England (ruled 1509 to 1547) wrote a thesis against Luther defending the church, the Pope commended him and titled him "The Defender of the Faith" Henry as we all know had marriage, and son and heir problems and was soon in conflict with the pope. Eventually Henry proclaimed himself head of the church in England, which ment not only getting rid of unwanted queens much easier but also getting his hands on lots of church property.
For the Irish this was a disaster, not only were they the base enemy "rebels" but they were now the wrong religion. With the coming of Henry II they were not christian or Roman Catholic enough, now they were not
Protestant enough. Henry had started the practice of surrender and regrant in Ireland, which if the Irish surrendered their land to the King they would get it back once they promised loylty and adapt the English ways including speaking the language and changing religion.

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