Who Counts As Family?
Under the traditional Irish laws, the Brehon Laws, there were three family groups.
The largest unit was the iarfine, or ‘after-kin’, comprised of all descendants sharing a common great-great-grandfather.
The next was the derbfine, or ‘true-kin’, which was considered to be the most important. These were all descendents sharing a common great-grandfather. Under the Brehon Laws parties to legal proceedings were not treated as individuals but rather as members of their wider kin-group. For the purposes of law, therefore, the whole derbfine was treated as a single legal entity. All kinsmen of this group were duty bound to remedy all wrongdoings, whether committed by or against their members.
Finally, the gelfine, or ‘bright-kin’, was the close family made up of all descendants sharing a common grandfather.