Dating and marriage customs in ireland

The very definition of love in the Irish dictionary lists branches of that 'malady' that may come as a surprise.

Apart from love being love, affection, or charity, it is also unshared affection, a love of one in absence, a love of the unseen and a love of the little jug which of course, is a drink.

Of course, we don't have any statistics on what might have gone on behind closed doors.

But it is true that visitors to Ireland during the nineteenth century often remarked "on the safety of the countryside and the moral behaviour of the young girls who were unselfconsciously dressed and still had great clean fun with the equally abstemious boys." One has to wonder what those same visitors would have thought if they had seen the latest survey published by Cadburys Chocolate: • Irish men and women enjoy making love and eating chocolate at the same time • One in 10 single Irish men and women would choose chocolate over making love • Three-quarters of adults in Ireland believe romance is alive and well in the new millennium • Dubliners are the most likely to show their affections and are most likely to be up to romantic mischief with their date • Two thirds of those aged between 18 and 34 make plans with their lover on Valentine's Day.

Ethna Carberry waxes spiritual in her lovely poem, 'The Love Talker', but Donagh Mac Donagh introduces some sweet irreverence in his 'Going to Mass last Sunday'.

Mass, indeed, was the principal meeting place until quite recently, and to judge by stories from the west, of traveller girls wearing their best weeds* to Mass, it still is for many.

' It is savagery in the blood, and pain in the bone, and greed and despair in the mind.

Given that this writer has experienced first-hand the romantic reserve of the Irish, a postulate is offered: Could it be that in the old days, we were blessed with so much passion in our poetry because we were emotionally stifled - by church and family?

In 1999, Maighread Medbh did an extensive examination on the topic of the Irish in Love for Local Ireland: "In the nineteenth century things got a lot more personal, though still quite chaste on the official level.

Elopement was reasonably frequent, necessitated by the parents' tight hold over marital arrangements.

Some didn't wait for the blessing, according to the poem 'An Cuimhin Leat an Oíche Úd' ('Remember that Night'), and one poet doesn't even mention the prospect of marriage, but has trained the dog so well that he doesn't bark when the lover sneaks in.

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