Brehon Law, Irish Law and Divorce

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

In early Celtic Ireland, grounds for divorce included sexual impotence due to gross obesity, telling tales about your love life, or being a thief. There was also a virgin-price that guaranteed the wife’s purity. It’s also interesting to note that if two people of unequal rank wanted to marry, the person of lower rank was responsible for the financial burden. We can assume this was meant to keep Celtic nobility from “marrying down.”

In 1937, divorce was banned under the Constitution, so you couldn’t legally dissolve your marriage on any grounds, including wife-beating, unfaithfulness, enduring decades of mental torture, etc. It’s ironic that we can’t say that the 1937 ban put us back in the Dark Ages, as in many ways the Dark Ages were much more enlightened.

The Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland removed the constitutional prohibition of divorce. It was effected by the Fifteenth Amendment of…

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