Legal Tender in Ancient IrelandCopyright (C) 2012 by Kevin L. O'BrienThe Irish monetary system was supported by two pillars. One was personal wealth. To the Irish, wealth was determined by possessions, not money. In fact, if we could transport an Iron Age Irishman into our time, he would be astonished at how wealthy all Americans are, even those whom we would consider to be below the poverty line. The reason is because, in our industrialized society, even if we cannot pay the rent or the utilities or buy food, we can still have numerous possessions, which is to say goods we own and can take with us rather than goods that are provided to us by, say, a landlord as part of a lease agreement. As such, an Irishman's wealth was determined by how many goods he owned, which included anything whether it was valuable or not, including such mundane items as clothing, linens, utensils, pots and pans, drinking vessels, etc. It also included livestock, slaves, and treasure.The other pillar was the honor price (log enech) of the
The Society of Ancient IrelandCopyright (C) 2012 by Kevin L. O'BrienIreland had what could be called a sophisticated primitive society. This is a society that is otherwise quite advanced culturally and technologically, but lacks several key features that are normally associated with a non-primitive society. For the Irish, these features were a written language, urban centers (e.g., cities and towns), and money (e.g., currency). This essay describes what is currently known about ancient Irish society. Where necessary, singular and plural forms of Irish words are indicated by the following code: singular form / plural form.The ancient Irish social structure was stratified, though not as heavily stratified as other sophisticated primitives. Its hierarchy was established by three separate, yet superimposed, organizations. One was based on blood and kinship, another on profession, and the last on class.First and foremost in Irish society was the familial organization. The basis of this organization was the immediate
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