Do you consider yourself to be a decent, law-abiding citizen? Let’s see how you would have fared in Ireland 100 years ago.
It’s no secret that the Ireland of today looks very different to the Ireland of 100 years ago. If you think you’re an angel now, let’s see if you could have said the same had you been born earlier in the last century.
From more memorable laws repealed in recent years to less evident ones, here is our roundup of the top ten things that were illegal in Ireland 100 years ago.
10. Single women couldn’t keep taverns – you had to get married if you wanted to run a pub
This antiquated law from 1612 prohibited single women from keeping their own taverns. The outdated law was only abolished in 2015 when the government eradicated nearly 6,000 similarly ancient laws that were out of practice.
So, if you were a single woman running a pub in 2014, you were breaking the law. Shame on you.
9. Women couldn’t work once married – forced to resign
To be a working woman, you had to stay single, as working after marriage was illegal in Ireland 100 years ago. The marriage bar was introduced to Ireland in the 1920s, forcing women to resign from work if they tied the knot, as a woman’s place was in the home. This law was only lifted in 1973.
8. Potatoes and oatmeal – not a food for the higher classes
This one is the most peculiar one on our list. Yet another one of the crazy laws abolished in 2015, this law stated that potatoes and oatmeal were only for the lower classes.
That’s right – if you were eating porridge or potatoes in the years before 2015, you couldn’t legally be considered an elite member of society.
7. Divorce – illegal until 1995
Believe it or not, divorce was illegal in Ireland until it was put to a public vote in 1995. That may seem like an age ago to some, but it was actually relatively recent. The motion passed narrowly, with only 50.3% in favour.
This was a particularly significant moment in Irish history, as a similar vote in 1986 voted against the motion. A lot can change in only a few years.
6. Blasphemy – illegal until 2018
While it had been over 100 years since anyone was actually punished for blasphemy, it was still technically illegal in Ireland until very recently – 2018, in fact. If you took the Lord’s name in vain before then, you were breaking the law and deserved to be locked up.
5. Restrictions on horse sales – yet another ancient law removed in 2015
Another funny and outdated law redacted in 2015 restricted the sale of horses outside of Dublin. While the 1590 law was no longer practised, it still legally stated that selling horses outside the Big Schmoke would be punishable by death. Who knew?!
4. Catholic landowners to give up their land – we can all rest easy now
This outdated law from 1654 was also removed in 2015. The law stated that Catholic landowners would give up their land and be cleared to Connaught in the West of Ireland. So if you’re a farmer in Carlow, you can come out of hiding now; the coast is clear and has been for the last four years.
3. Abortion – repealed in 2018
A more current change in our country’s memory is repealing the eighth amendment. This amendment placed restrictions on the choices pregnant people could make. The country voted yes with a landslide 67% in favour of the motion.
2. Sale of contraception – illegal in Ireland 100 years ago
If you were planning to get down and dirty with your partner before 1985, you’d have to visit your GP to get condoms unless you wanted to endure the consequences.
That’s right – you needed to get a prescription for condoms back in the day, which took the spontaneity out of the deed if you ask us. We can’t comprehend how awkward that must have been every time.
1. Same-sex marriage – illegal until 2015
Another very recent moment in Irish history was the Marriage Equality Act in 2015. 1.2 million people voted in favour of same-sex marriage, making Ireland the first country in the world to legalise equal marriage rights for all by a popular vote.