The 10 most strange and weird laws of all time in Ireland

If you think laws are boring, think again – they can actually be pretty fun. Don’t believe us? Read our top ten most weird laws in Ireland below. 

The 10 most strange and weird laws of all time in Ireland

The Emerald Isle is famous for a lot of wonderful things – ancient folklore, wild nights out in the pub, mystical stories and drinking sing-alongs. But did you know that we also had some of the world’s weirdest legislation?

From laws regulating leprechaun dinner etiquette to rules forbidding cows to mingle with pirates, these weird laws in Ireland will surely make you laugh. 

10. The porridge and potato law – the rich were banned from eating them

The porridge and potato law - the rich were banned from eating them.

In the 19th century, our favourite foods were regulated by law in Ireland. According to the Proclamation of 1817, porridge and potatoes were reserved for “lower orders of people”.

Originally written to protect the poor from famine, the rich folks understandably weren’t too happy to be banned from enjoying their breakfast porridge. Luckily for them, this law has been repealed since. 

9. No cinema on Sunday – one of the weird laws in Ireland

No cinema on Sunday – one of the weird laws in Ireland

Who doesn’t love a Sunday evening movie night? We certainly do but, according to one of the most weird laws in Ireland, we could technically get fined for watching the latest blockbuster in Northern Ireland. 

A law from 1991 makes it illegal to go to the cinema on Sundays in observation of the Sabbath. It could cost you £50 – and the money for the price of the ticket would be lost, too.

8. Let your sheep mingle with Bono’s – if you are a Freeman or Freewoman

Let your sheep mingle with Bono’s - if you are a Freeman or Freewoman.
Credit: @OldDublinTown / Twitter

If you have contributed to Dublin enough to be granted the status of “Freeman” or “Freewoman”, you might want to consider buying a few sheep to celebrate the occasion. According to one of the very weird laws in Ireland, you are now allowed to let them graze on common grounds, including St. Stephen’s Green and College Green.

And you never know what celebrities’ animals they might make friends with. Bono and The Edge are Freemen, too, so watch out for the U2 stars (and their sheep) when you exercise your right. 

7. Drinks on the landlord – the one we want back

One of our favourites on the list of strange laws in Ireland is the Tippling Act of 1735. It stated that no landlord could demand back money owed for booze.

Initially enacted to stop servants from stealing their master’s money to pay off their debts in the pub, it soon became a free pass to extensive boozing. Unfortunately, the law has been repealed since. Tippling Act, we miss you!

6. Bear hugs and tiger wrestling – a weird weekend tradition

Bear hugs and tiger wrestling - a weird weekend tradition.
We should leave the tigers to wrestle themselves! Credit: Charles Barilleaux / Flickr

The Dangerous Performance Act of 1897 allowed families to enjoy a day out watching performers hug bears and wrestle with tigers. As you can probably imagine, things usually didn’t go too well for the humans.

After countless people had died hugging wild animals, lawmen brought in a new rule forbidding the practice. 

5. Free oatcakes for the elderly – delivered on a daily basis


In the 17th century, you were obliged by the Brehon Laws to provide your aging parents with an oatcake a day plus a container of sour milk.

While this rule has since been dropped, we still believe a cake is a nice gesture when you go visit your family. Obviously, it’s now up to you – and them – if it’s an oat, a chocolate or a fruit one. 

4. Keep an eye on your cows – if pirates are around

Keep an eye on your cows - if pirates are around.
Credit: @munchkinstein / Twitter

Weird laws in Ireland are not limited to us humans. Another of the Brehon Laws focused on cows. Under no circumstances were they allowed to come in contact with pirates – or wild dogs. 

While we don’t really get the point of this particular rule, we secretly wouldn’t mind a pirate showing up on our doorstep – provided he is as cool as Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean”. 

3. Get tipsy while writing an exam – you have a legal right to

If you are a student at Trinity College, your exams will be a lot more fun than elsewhere in the country! According to the college’s own laws, you have the right to demand a glass of wine during an exam! 

And there’s more interesting rules at Dublin’s prestigious university: You must carry a sword at all times while on the college premises. Make sure it’s visible when you ask for a red (or white). 

2. Share your dinner with a leprechaun – it’s mandatory

Share your dinner with a leprechaun - it’s mandatory.

We all know that friend (or family member) that tends to show up announced around dinner time. However, before you turn down your surprise guest, make sure it’s definitely not a leprechaun!

If one of the fairy creatures knocks on your door, you are obligated by Irish law to share your dinner. We have always been wondering what leprechauns love to eat, so please do take a selfie with your guest of honour and send it our way!

1. The punishment for suicide – hanging

The punishment for suicide - hanging.

As you have seen, there’s a lot of weird Irish laws but we doubt this one can be topped: Up until 1964, the legal punishment for attempting suicide was death by hanging. 

We are just gonna let that one sit with you.