When a newly-married couple told their Dublin wedding guests they were touring Ireland for their honeymoon, it meant they were going to an auntie down the country for a week, or, less, depending on funds and the auntie.
Income levels were not so high, at the time, so couples couldn’t fly off to the southern hemisphere on their first married holiday together.
The first week was often the biggest trial for a new couple.
If they survived seven days of one another’s unremitting company they were over the first hurdle.
For if they did not go away on a honeymoon they were supposed to stay indoors for a week.
Perhaps in the hope that people would think they were away somewhere if they were not seen in their usual haunts.
Custom dictated that a sharp knife was not to be used in preparation of food for that week.
This might result in near starvation and a severe trying of matrimonial bonds if the two people did not meet one another half way.
In Dublin, long ago, people used combs to rid their itching hair of nits. When they finished with the combs, they threw them away.
Many centuries later, the broken combs were dug up and discussed by learned people seeking clues as to how other people lived their lives in a different time.
Various assumptions were made about the life and daily customs of a people who did not have access to showers, bathrooms or Jacuzzis to help maintain a high standard of personal hygiene.
Few homes had a piped water supply and most relied on a communal standpipe or rainwater gathered in tubs.
Personal bathing may not have been as regular as modern citizens now expect.
Dublin has had an organised system for water supply for almost 750 years.
The rapid growth in population and commercial and industrial development in boom years in the Dublin region placed major strains on the water supply.
Dublin City Council announced, in 2006, that it would spend €120m on plugging water leaks in an effort to reduce the level of leaks from the city’s water system.
The money was to be spent replacing some of the cast iron pipes that made up the water mains, many of which were more than 100 years old.
The council estimated that some 28 per cent of Dublin’s water leaked out of these pipes before the supply ever reached taps.
It hoped the €120m upgrade would reduce losses to 20 per cent.
An earlier project costing in the region of €47 million reduced leakage from 42.5 per cent to 28 per cent.
Anyway, Dublin was built on a body of water, the Liffey, whence all stories and folk tales poured.
On this day in 1695, a long time ago now, Narcissus Marsh, Protestant Archbishop of Dublin wrote in his journal:
“This evening betwixt 8 and 9 of the clock at night my niece Grace Marsh (not having the fear of God before her eyes) stole privately out of my house at St. Sepulchre’s and (as is reported) was that night married to Chas. Proby vicar of Castleknock in a Tavern and was bedded there with him – Lord consider my affliction.”
Narcissus lived as a bachelor in the Palace of St Sepulchre beside the Cathedral.
He had arranged for his niece, Grace Marsh, to keep house for him.
Grace (19) wished to enjoy life as a young woman might in seventeenth-century Dublin. She may have found her new surroundings, lifestyle, and the strict discipline of the archbishop’s domain constricting and sought excitement from another gentleman of her acquaintance.
She was, according to Narcissus, married to Charles before they were bedded, and he was, it appears, an ordained minister of some Protestant persuasion, else he could not have married at all.
The fear of God might be read as fear of the archbishop as representative of God, a fear which Grace seemed to have had none of at all. Or perhaps, she believed that if she had informed Narcissus of her plan to marry the vicar of Castleknock the archbishop might have demurred.
A consequence is that while Grace left a note for her Uncle Narcissus in a book in his home before she eloped, telling him of her proposed course of action, the learned man did not find that note in time, and never did.
Or so it would appear from his subsequent ghostly peregrinations through his huge collection of books in Marsh’s Library; to this day.
Extracted from Folk Tales of Dublin