From around the twelfth to the sixteenth century, powerful Irishmen paid for poems to be composed in their honour. Amongst other things, these poems praised their warlike qualities, their noble descent, their generosity and their physical appearance.
Many of the illustrations in the Book of Kells, which was probably produced around the year 800, show men with long, wavy, fair hair.
Old Irish has a number of different words and phrases for different types of baldness and tonsure (the practice of cutting or shaving hair as a sign of religious devotion). A bald spot at the crown of the head was known as cáise buide ‘a yellow cheese’ and sál tre assa ‘a heel through a shoe’!
The glib was not the only hair-style that Englishmen were not allowed to copy. A law of 1297 forbade them from following the practice of Irishmen in having their heads half-shaven with long hair at the back. This style was known in Irish as the cúlán.