‘to Foreign Commentators, the Pale and Gaelic Ireland Must Have Seemed Like Two Different Worlds’. Discuss.

‘To foreign commentators, the Pale and Gaelic Ireland must have seemed like two different worlds’. Discuss.

In the 12th century Ireland had become governed by England. Gaelic Ireland however was more or less left to the Gaelic leaders in practice. As the years went past succeeding Norman- Irishmen had become more Gaelicised in their ways adopting the Brehon laws1 and Gaelic customs. The Gaels had also absorbed some of the Norman- Irish ways.   In response to this in a bid to keep the two races separate the government introduced the Statutes of Kilkenny in 1366.2 Amongst the laws inter-marriages were declared punishable by death, the use of the Gaelic language or playing of the harp by Norman- Irishmen was forbidden and Gaelic clergy could not serve in the more affluent parishes without a grant of English law. The government responsible for the Statutes was effective only in an area of Leinster around Dublin. By the middle of the fifteenth century the “ English land” had become known as the “English Pale”.3 This area consisted of the lowland areas of Leinster and Munster. The Gaelic area that spanned most of the rest of the country consisted of more or less independent lordships. In sixteenth century, Ireland became better known through travel, trade and pilgrimage to areas such as Loch Derg.4 To foreign commentators travelling the country they would have discovered a land divided into two different worlds. The differences between Gaelic Ireland and the Pale could be seen through various differences in the economical, social, cultural, political and religious stances of these two areas.
The Gaelic Irish areas were mostly in the west and the north of the country. Foreign visitors usually gave uniformly negative reviews of Ireland. “The representation of Gaelic Ireland as primitive, warlike, poor and semi- nomadic has persisted down to comparatively recently”.5 Most of Gaelic Ireland was covered in bad bog land, forest and lakes. This lead to the Gaelic Irish...