Everything Sharp Is Illegal In Ireland

The casual act of whipping out a pocketknife and slicing up a bar of soap at a rural county fair transformed this ad from Unexceptional 70’s Schlock into Unintentional High Camp. Even though this commercial became a cult classic, that same casual act would now likely land an Irishman in jail.

In 1990 the Irish Oireachtas ‘updated’ their knife laws, with the end result that carrying anything sharp or pointy is now illegal and subject to arrest. If you can prove that you had a good reason to carry it, you might be acquitted at trial. Good luck with that: it will take months and cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

All of this imbecility is set forth in the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990:

9.—(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), where a person has with him in any public place any knife or any other article which has a blade or which is sharply pointed, he shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) to prove that he had good reason or lawful authority for having the article with him in a public place.

(3) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2), it shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) to prove that he had the article with him for use at work or for a recreational purpose.

How many ‘articles which have a blade or are sharply pointed’ can you think of? Pens, pencils, shovels, trowels, ice scrapers, chopsticks, rakes, screwdrivers, fine-nose pliers, tweezers, nail clippers, staples, scissors, toothpicks, and forks could all land you in jail in green Eire.

When making your travel plans, it would be wise to remember which countries won’t even let you carry a miniature Leatherman tool or Victorinox Solitaire in your pocket. Now that anything sharp or pointy is illegal, perhaps the Oiriechtas will outlaw flashlights next, because only burglars need them. Or rope?


  1. Sam L. says:

    The Republic, or Northern Ireland. Sounds like English law to me. The IRA would dispute it.

    1. Eamonn Holder says:

      The Oirechtas is the legislature of the Irish Republic.

  2. JoshtheViking says:

    I wonder how long it will be before they outlaw making a fist and require people to have their canine teeth and fingernails removed.

  3. Mark N. says:

    Yup, pretty sure that it is the same law in England–and I bet it is about equally obeyed.

  4. Sam L. says:

    Next they’ll outlaw shilleghles (cain’t spel gud) and walking sticks.

  5. Out_Fang_Thief says:

    At one time these people were all swinging two-handed swords at each other, now they can be busted for carrying any sharp or pointed blade? Only now do we fully appreciate the word blarney. I wonder if Ireland’s ancestors would.

  6. Pat says:

    Their minds are #@&%ed.

  7. Mike S says:

    Things like this make me ashamed of my Irish heritage. They spent 600 years throwing off the yoke of British oppression and follow them in lockstep with every law they run down the pike.

    A nation of cowards

  8. Jared says:

    Do NOT confuse Ireland with Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland still issues Firearm Certificates for handguns for self-defence. The U.K. gun/knife laws do not apply to Northern Ireland since they never extended them to N. Ireland (just as they choose to do with most laws).

    You can read their gun laws if interested on http://www.cybershooters.org

    Again, it is a common misconception that Northern Ireland suffers from the same stupidity that the rest of the U.K. does (and Ireland for that matter).

  9. Jeff P. says:

    Wow, I thought that some of the knife laws (I say some because there are 1,000,000 and 1 different ones) in this country {of course depending on what state, what part of that state, in some states (I’m still confused on these knife laws correct me if I’m wrong)} are too strict. Def New York City (I heard you can now get arrested for simply saying “gun” “knife” or “weapon of any kind whether it is pointy or not).”

  10. Art says:

    My wife and I will be travelling by private vehicle through Ireland and the UK this summer. Normally I travel with a Victorinox Explorer knife in my luggage (not on person). Will having the knife in my possession be a legal issue?
    Thank you

  11. Peter Murphy says:

    Sheesh. Have you ever walked through Dublin city centre on a Friday night? We don’t need knives in the equation. It’s a good law.

    P..S. check your spelling.

  12. Peter Murphy says:

    @ Art, how did you get on?
    AFAIK nobody has ever been arrested for having a penknife. The law allows cops to deal with bad people carrying knives.

  13. Allan says:

    I will be traveling to Ireland in June of 2016. If I take a folding lock blade knife with a 9.1 cm. (3.6 inch) blade in my checked luggage and I have it in the house we will be renting for two weeks, is that considered a crime? What about if I have it with me if we are out in the country or along the coast line, or in a wilderness area? If I am not in a town, store, pub, restaurant, etc. can I lawfully have possession and use of my knife?

    The law quoted above says “… where a person has with him IN ANY PUBLIC PLACE any knife or any other article which has a blade or which is sharply pointed, he shall be guilty of an offence…”

    Under Irish law, is being in my rental house, out in the country or along the coast line, or in a wilderness area considered a “public place?”

    1. Bill says:

      Allan: As the rest of the quoted law states, having a folding penknife for recreational use is fine. Camping, fishing, even hiking (just say you like collecting fossils or slips of wild plants). And don’t sweat it. Our cops aren’t gun-toting power-tripping fascists looking for any excuse to bust you.

      1. Allan says:

        Thanks for your reply, Bill. Having never been to Ireland, I was not sure what to expect.

  14. David L Schiffman says:

    Wow any government that completely disarms it’s people is a big problem. I would not stand for this and it makes me not want to visit Ireland anymore. Wow.
    This makes me appreciate the United States that much more.

  15. James says:

    A lot of us guys in rural US carry a knife to open products in blister packs, shorten string & rope, cut tough steak, whittle on wood, myriad of uses in rural America, and maybe possibly for defense, although that would be the last use. I use my pocket knife weekly for something. Not being allowed to carry it in another country would make me feel a little undressed. A country that will not allow pocket knives has other problems.

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Everything Sharp Is Illegal In Ireland

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