|Extracts from the Ancient and Modern Customs of the Irish
"They commonly baptize their children by prophane names, adding somewhat
from one accident or another: some from old wive's tale; or from colours,
as red, white, black, &c. from distempers,, as scab'd, bald, &c,
or else from some vice, as Robber or Proud; and, although they cannot bear
reproach, yet the greatest among them, such as they have the letter O prefixed
to their names, are not asham'd of these appelations. It is looked upon as
a foreboding a speedy death to the parent or other of the Family then living,
to give his or their names to any of the children; and therefore they avoid
it as unlawful. When the father dies, the son takes his name, lest it should
be forgotten; and if any of the Ancestors have been famous for their
achievements, the like bravery is expected from him..."
Nursing the Children
"Women, within six days after their delivery, return to their husband's bed,
and put out their children to nurse. Great appelation is made from all parts,
to be nurses to the children of these Grandees; who are more tender to the
foster-children than their own.....
If the infant is sick, they sprinkle it with the stalest urine they can get,
and for a preservative against mischances, they hang not only the beginning
of St. John's Gospel about the child's neck, but also a crooked nail out
of a horse's foot, or a piece of wolf's skin. For this very purpose also,
both nurses and sucklings wear always a girdle of women's hair about them.....
All who have suck'd the same breasts, are very kind and loving, and confide
more in each other than if they were natural brothers, so that they will
have an aversion even to their own brothers for the sake of these."
"They seldom marry out of their own town; and contract with one another,
not de praesenti, but de futuro; or else agree without deliberation. Upon
this account, the least difference generally parts them; the husband taking
another wife, and the wife another husband; nor is it certain whether the
Contract be true or false, till their dying day. Hence arise wars, rapines,
murders and deadly feuds, about successions and inheritances. The cast-off
wives have recourse to the witches; these being looked on as able to afflict
either the former husband or the new wife, with barrenness or impotency,
or some dangerous distemper."
"They generally go bare-headed, save when they wear a head-piece; having
a large head of hair , with curled Gleebes, which they highly value and take
it hainously if anyone twitch or pull them. They wear linnen shifts, very
large, with wide sleeves down to their knees, which they generally dye with
saffron. They have woollen jackets, but very shirt; plain breeches, close
to their thighs; and over these they cast their mantles or shag rugs which
Isidore seems to call Heteromallae, fring'd with an agreeable mixture of
colours, in which they wrap themselves up, and sleep upon the bare ground.
Such also do the women cast over the garment which comes down to their ankles,
and they load their heads (as I said) rather than adorn them, with several
ells of fine linnen roll'd up in wreaths, as they do their necks with neck-laces,
and their arms with bracelets."
"As to their diet, they delight in herbs, especially cresses, mushrooms and
roots..... They love butter mix'd with oatmeal, milk, whey, beef broth and
flesh, of-times without bread.... When they are sharp-set, they make no scruple
to eat raw flesh, after they have squeezed out the blood; to digest which,
they drink Usquebaugh in great quantities."