Even though cannabis is a popular current topic, its roots dive deep into our history. England, Egypt, and even the Vikings used cannabis for fiber, medicine, and food. In some time periods, it was even required by law for farmers to grow. One root that runs especially deep is Ireland's history with the cannabis plant.
According to the International Hemp Association, " Historical records indicate that hemp was grown in Ireland during the 18th century, but no commercial enterprise was established."
Ireland's history with hemp is murky, with much of its past buried due to conquests from its neighbors. Before Catholicism and the invasion of the Roman empire, a class of people known as druids used herbs both for medicinal and religious purposes. Druids were the healers, storytellers, and advisors.
However, thanks to the Roman Empire and later on, the Catholic Church, the art of Druidry was all but lost. Propaganda from early priests and military leaders painted Druids as human sacrificing, satanic monsters. And as a result, an entire culture was demonized and nearly erased from history.
When we took a look over England's history, we learned that the Tudor dynasty required farmers to grow a specific amount of hemp for fiber or face a heavy fine. However, it is also worth noting that Queen Elizabeth I took advantage of political unrest in Ireland and took control of the nation in the mid to late 1500's. With Ireland under control of the English, farmers were required to follow the same laws as English farmers. Grow hemp for the crown or face heavy fines.
However, Tudor reign over Ireland was a massive burden for both countries. According to BBC, "Elizabeth...paid a heavy price for her parsimonious and irresolute approach to Irish affairs and her inability to exercise effective control over her ministers there."
Thanks to negative propaganda and an attempt to erase history, we may never know the full history of cannabis in Ireland. There is little to no mention of hemp before the reign of Elizabeth I, however the present day hemp industry is a completely different matter and worth exploring on its own.