If Irish Celebrated Thanksgiving Today


A painting by JLG Ferris, “The First Thanksgiving”: A band of starving pilgrims at Plymouth Rock were saved at the last minute by the arrival of a ship from Dublin.

Regardless of all other dates given as the day of the very first Thanksgiving , it was actually celebrated on Feb 21, 1621 when a band of starving pilgrims at Plymouth Rock were saved at the last minute by the arrival of a ship from Dublin, bearing food from Ireland.

If Thanksgiving were celebrated in Ireland today as it is celebrated in the USA, Irish people could have given thanks to their government for the repealing and clearing from the statute books, in March of this year, of exactly 5,782 regulations and orders dating from way before the Republic of Ireland became independent — some over 3 centuries back.

Reform Minister Brendan Howlin said it would “pave the way for further simplification and modernisation measures.”

An Bille um Athchóiriú an Dlí Reachtúil, 2015 Statute Law Revision Bill 2015 lists them all, from simply outdated to peculiar, unusual, strict, frightening, curious and amusing:

    • A declaration of 1654 ordering the removal of Catholic landowners with their wives, children and families from the provinces of Leinster, Munster and Ulster to Connacht.
    • Proclamation warning anybody who criticises the marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, dated July 5, 1533 [Steele Vol. 1 p. 15] 
    • Proclamation forbidding anyone to carry a sword in the King’s presence, dated May 16, 1539 [Steele Vol. 1 p. 20]
    • Order offering a pardon in relation to crimes of rebellion before 1 May 1583, dated June, 1583 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 10]
    • Order prohibiting the sale of horses out of the Pale upon pain off death, dated May, 1590 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 12]
    • Proclamation forbidding the import of gunpowder, or its sale except to noblemen, sheriffs and justices of peace, August 20, 1595 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 13]
    • Order requiring regular attendance on public worship in the parish churches and publishing the Act of Uniformity [1560 (2 Eliz.) c. 2], dated October 24, 1605 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 17]
    • Order forbidding foreign travel and recalling children sent abroad for education, dated July 10, 1610 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 19] 
    • Proclamation enforcing certain laws including the prohibition of single women keeping taverns, dated October 31, 1612 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 20]
    • Proclamation banishing idle and wandering persons including Scotsmen without lawful business, dated August 25, 1625 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 28]
    • Order for the punishing of rogues, vagabonds and sturdy beggars and setting them to work, dated October 22, 1633 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 34]
Illustration by Sergei Kalinin.

Illustration by Sergei Kalinin (obviously non-Irish)

  • Proclamation forbidding drivers and butchers to drive cattle by night and the buying of cattle except from fairs and markets, dated August 22, 1625 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 29]
  • Proclamation providing that beggars and wandering persons (excluding children under the age of seven) are to be arrested, and whipped naked from the waist upwards till blood comes, dated August 24, 1625 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 29]
  • Proclamation ordering all strangers to leave Dublin in one hour, dated October 26, 1641 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 40]
  • Order prohibiting the intermarriage of officers or soldiers with Irish women, dated May 1, 1651 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 59]
  • Declaration offering rewards for the killing of wolves, dated June 29, 1653 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 64]
  • Declaration concerning the licensing of alcohol which is a cause of drunkenness and licentiousness in all sorts of people, dated July 15, 1653 [Steele Vol. 2 p. 65]
  • Order directing churchwardens to cooperate with the Lord Mayor regarding the reporting of immoral behaviour of citizens in their parishes, dated October 14, 1768 [D.G., Issue No. 1956]


If I were Irish, I’d immediately start exercising my new-found freedoms — criticizing the marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, driving cattle by night and engaging in immoral behaviour  in front of Lord Mayor and an entire parish.

Happy Thanksgiving!


2 comments on “If Irish Celebrated Thanksgiving Today

  1. I am not quite sure where you are getting your history from of the United States, but the Sctos-Irish arrival to the colonies were not until the 18th century in 1717, then in 1820! Most of these were actually Scots-Englishman who settled in Ireland as part of the British forced Plantation of Ulster; when they immigrated to the American-British Colonies, they came from Ulster!

    You are correct regarding the year being 1621; however, since the English customarily celebrated “Fall Harvest Festival” in the Fall, I doubt very seriously if the month of February would qualify!

    It was Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag Confederacy (of present-day Rhode Island) who actually saved the pilgrims at Plymouth Colony from starvation and taught them what and how to plant on Indian soil, and how to store up for the winter months: after all, they (Native Americans) had lived on the land for hundreds of years! This Chief Massasoit did, despite the fact that the white man’s disease of small pox struck their village in Pokanoket and devastated it!

    Officially, President Lincoln finally proclaimed November 26th to be a Day of Thanksgiving in 1863. So with these words said:


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