Early Irish Law, Annals, and Computer Science
Yocum, Christopher Guy
Aiste 4: Rannsachadh air Litreachas Gàidhlig (2011)
While recent advances in computer technology have enabled much in the way of data analysis, these advances have yet to make their way into Early Irish studies. One field in particular which would benefit from computational methods is the study of Early Irish law. Perhaps the most problematic aspect of Early Irish law is the lack of real world case law in which legally stipulated acts and outcomes are clearly described. Instead, the law texts are silent or rely upon mythological leading cases. To verify the connections between theory and practise, we must turn to the early annals and chronicles, such as the Chronicle of Ireland. The numerical information contained therein are particularly amenable to computational methods. This article seeks to use evidence gained from the various Early Irish annal sources in an attempt to assess the real world validity of Early Irish legal sanctions. Crucial to this investigation is entry for the year 893 in the Chronicle of Ireland in which a fight is detailed between Ulstermen and the Cenél Eógain in the cathedral of Armagh on Whitsunday – a fight incurring a penalty of 210 cumals of fines and four Ulstermen executed.