What does Well Beyond the Pale mean? PDF Print E-mail
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Ireland - Ireland General
Written by Hugh McManus   
Friday, 01 August 2008 15:29

First, it has nothing to do with the buckets and the pursuit of fresh water.  The Pale, also called the English Pale, refers to the area around Dublin, the capital city of Ireland.   In fact, a pale is any fortified enclosure.  In Ireland, the Pale includes the county of Dublin, but stretches north as far as Dundalk, south to Dalkey and west past Maynooth in County Kildare.  The word itself may derive from the term palisade, a term familiar in the US; it certainly has its roots in the Latin word for a stake, palus.   Note, there is a common misconception that the term comes from pallere, the Latin verb "to be pale."  This interpretation is incorrect.

The area was originally settled by the Normans, but for three centuries the Pale was the only area of Ireland that was really ruled by the English.  The Pale was the boundary between English occupied Ireland and the rest of the country.   The area beyond the Pale was under the control of what was considered the uncivilized, unruly Irish.  While the term beyond the pale was originally a geographical reference, the phrase today means an action that doesn't conform to generally accepted behavioral norms.

For the purposes of this website, the Pale refers to its original, Irish meaning and is dedicated to those who live not only beyond the Pale--that is, outside of Dublin and its environs, but to those who are Irish and live outside of Ireland; that is, those who live well beyond the Pale!