Posted by Shae on January 23, 2003
In Reply to: Beyond the Pale posted by Gary on January 23, 2003
: : : In one of your recent discussions of "trailer trash," the phrase "beyond the pale" was used. Can anyone say from whence it came?
: : : "life is too uncertain to waste on quests of vane fortune when the language is the windmill which beckons tilting..."
: : Would those vanes be the ones at the top of the windmill?
: : "Beyond the pale" means, roughly,
outside the picket fence, a pale being a stake. See discussion at the Word Detective's
: : (link below).
The Pale, in Ireland's case, was an earthen embankment rather than simply a wooden fence, and the term described both the structure and the area within. It encompassed an area much larger than just Dublin. See: http://www.rootsweb.com/~irlkik/ihm/ire1400.htm
Those within the Pale spoke English and obeyed English law. Those beyond the Pale were either heathen Irish or descendants of the original Cambro-Norman settlers who, although remaining loyal to the Crown, adopted Irish laws and customs and were, therefore, outside the limits of social convention.