bannlám [Irish] or
bandle [English]

 

In Ireland, at least as early as the 17th century – 19th century, a unit of length usually taken to = 2 feet, chart symbol but also reported at 27, 21 and 14 inches, the last probably wrong. It belongs to the cubit class of units. Bandle is an anglicized form of the Irish bannlám (from bann, measure + lám, arm). Also spelled bannlámh, banlámh. The Irish unit is older than the anglicized form.

In the phrase “bandle linen”, the qualifier “bandle” does indicate the cloth was narrow, but the cloth was not necessarily a bandle wide.

Diarmuid Ó Muirithe.
Dictionary of Anglo-Irish.
Portland (OR): Four Courts Press, 1996(?).

Thomas Blount.
Glossographia, or, A dictionary interpreting the hard words of whatsoever language...
London : Printed by Tho. Newcomb and are to be sold by Tho. Flesher, 1681.

sources

1

The Cloathing is a narrow sort of Frieze, of about twenty Inches broad, whereof two foot, call'd a Bandle is worth from 3d. halfpeny to 18d. Of this seventeen Bandles make a Mans Suit, and twelve make a Cloak. According to which numbers and proportions and the number of people who wear this Stuff, it seems that near thrice as much Wooll is spent in Ireland as exported; whereas others have thought quite contrary, that is that the exported Wooll is triple in quantity to what is spent at home.

Sir William Petty.
The Political Anatomy of Ireland, with the establishment for that kingdom when the late...
London: D. Brown and W. Rogers, 1691. (written in 1672)

2

Bannla'mh, a cubit, a bandle. bannlamh éàduigh, a bandle of cloth.

[John O'Brien?].
Focaloir Gaoidhilge-sax-Bhéarla, or, An Irish-English Dictionary.
Paris: Printed by Nicolas-Fráncis Valleyre, for the Author, 1768.

3

The yard and the bandle differ in many places, according as the rule, by which they measure, varies; the yard ought to be thirty-six inches, and the bandle twenty-seven inches long. In the county of Galway the bandle is thirty inches, and in Limerick only twenty-one inches, in some parts of Kilkenny twenty-four inches.

Hely Dutton.
Statistical Survey of the County of Clare, with observations on the means of improvement etc..
Dublin: 1808.
Page 357.

4

27 inches = a Bandle.

Edward Wakefield.
An Account of Ireland, statistical and political.
London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1812.
Volume 2, page 202. Wakefield appears to indicate that the information came from Hely Dutton.

5

Some 300 looms were engaged in broadloom manufacture, and a further 500 in the production of bandle linen of twelve to thirteen inches wide.21
21. Sir T. Radcliff, A Report on the Agriculture and Livestock of Co. Kerry (Dublin, 1814), 169.

S. H. Cousens.
The regional variation in emigration from Ireland between 1821 and 1841.
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, No. 37 (Dec. 1965).
Page 26.

6

Another kind of linen is also made here, called Bandle linen, from being of the width of fourteen inches, which makes the measure called a bandle: both sorts were in much demand, as well for domestic consumption as for the army and navy.

Samuel Lewis.
A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, comprising the several counties, cities, boroughs, corporate, market, and...
London: Samuel Lewis, 1837.
Volume 2, page 46, under the entry “Kerry”.

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