Social Customs and Observances in Ancient Ireland

From A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland 1906

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Sculpture on a Capital, Priest's House, Glendalough

Sculpture on a Capital, Priest's House, Glendalough: Beranger, 1779 (From Petrie’s Round Towers)



SECTION 1. Salutation.

Letter S

OME of the modes of salutation and of showing respect practised by the ancient Irish indicate much gentleness and refinement of feeling. When a distinguished visitor arrived, it was usual to stand up as a mark of respect. Giving a kiss—or more generally three kisses—on the cheek was a very usual form of respectful and affectionate salutation: it was indeed the most general of all. When St. Columba approached the assembly at Drum-ketta, "King Domnall rose immediately before him, and bade him welcome, and kissed his cheek, and set him down in his own place."

A very pleasing way of showing respect and affection, which we often find noticed, was laying the head gently on the person's bosom. When Erc, King Concobar's grandson, came to him, "he placed his head on the breast of his grandfather." Sometimes persons bent the head and went on one knee to salute a superior.

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