IreFact: Where the expression “Beyond the Pale” came from…

Something that’s “beyond the pale” is wild or outrageous (like certain people in my family, for example). The expression was first used in Ireland way back in the 13th century, to describe people who lived outside the parts of Ireland controlled by the British. Called the Pale, it originally consisted of parts of counties Meath, Louth, Kildare and Dublin in the east of Ireland. The word derives from “palus,” a Latin word meaning “stake.” The Pale had a ditch along its border to keep intruders out. Within the area, the English forbade inter-marriage between native Irish people and English settlers. Irish language was also forbidden. The Pale gradually disappeared during the 15th century, as British settlers assimilated into Irish culture. However, in the 16th century, the English Tudors re-conquered Ireland, leading to the plantation of Ulster, and the long series of new conflicts between Ireland and Britain lasting right up through the 20th century.

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