First Irish parliament held locally
When researching the history of parliamentary democracy in Ireland in relation to the Seanad Referendum – I unearthed the following nugget of wisdom which is little known but worthy of note and commemoration.
The 18th of June 2014 marks the 750th anniversary the first parliamentary sitting in Ireland in Castledermot, predating the 1st sitting of De Montfort’s bicameral Parliament in England by seven months and two days according to a variety of notable sources including the the Oireacthas website, so it must be true!!!!
The earliest known Irish Parliament for which there is a definitive record met on 18 June 1264 at Castledermot in County Kildare, although there is some evidence to suggest that the word “parliament” may have been in use as early as 1234. (http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/about/history/parliamentinireland/ accessed 9th Jan 2014)
Putting a modern spin on it Keenan (2010) suggests that the first of the new style parliaments was convened in Castledermot in 1264 when Prince Edward (Longshanks of Braveheart fame later King Edward I was Lord of Ireland).
Apparently the parliament in Castledermot was convened to sort out ongoing feuds between the Geraldines and De Burghs (Richard De Burgh had just become Earl of Ulster at the time)!
At the meeting the Geraldines, led by Maurice Fitzgerald, are reputed to have taken The Lord Justice Richard De Rupella, Lord Theobald Butler and some other nobles (modern day senators) captive to the Castle of Ley/Lea (near modern day Portarlington) and to Dunamase.
They released their captives after another meeting of a parliamentary nature in Kilkenny some time later!
This is a very unique milestone in the history national and international parliamentary democracy and should be marked as a local, national and international event of some significance!
Asst Professor, Trinity College Dublin