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Nobles and other persons holding large areas would rent to clansmen not the land itself but the right to graze cattle, and they sometimes even rented out the cattle themselves.There were two distinct methods of letting and hiring: tenure were largely settled by the law; the clansman was left free within the limits of justice to end the relationship, and no liability was imposed on the clansman’s joint family.
Each ordinance was issued either by a saint or monastic group.
Three texts of these legislations have come to us, the earliest being Cáin Adomnáin - Lex Innocentium - proclaimed by Adomnán, abbot of Iona, at the synod of Birr in 697.
No contract affecting land was valid unless made with the consent of the joint family.
Other contracts had to be made in the presence of the noble or magistrate.
The Cáin Adomnáin (Law of Adomnán), also known as the Lex Innocentium (Law of Innocents), was promulgated amongst a gathering of Irish, Dál Riatan and Pictish notables at the Synod of Birr in 697.
It is named after its initiator Adomnán of Iona, ninth Abbot of Iona after St. It is called the "Geneva Accords" of the ancient Irish, for its protection of women and non-combatants, extending the Law of Patrick, which protected monks, to civilians.
The laws also provided sanctions against many things like the killing of children, clerics, clerical students and peasants on clerical lands; rape; impugning the chastity of a noblewoman and women from having to take part in warfare. The law described both the secular fines which criminals must pay and the ritual curses to which lawbreakers were subject.
Bystanders who did nothing to prevent the crime were as liable as the perpetrator.
Thus, the area of arable land available for the common use of the clansmen gradually diminished.
Land was seldom sold and not often rented in ancient Ireland.