Signs have been used as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Romans. Many Roman examples are preserved, among them the widely recognized bush to indicate a tavern, from which is derived the proverb "Good wine needs no bush".
In 1389, King Richard II of England compelled landlords to erect signs outside their premises. The legislation stated "Whosoever shall brew ale in the town with intention of selling it must hang out a sign, otherwise he shall forfeit his ale.” This was in order make them easily visible to passing inspectors of the quality of the ale they provided (believe it or not during this period the quality of drinking water was so poor that ale was used as a replacement).
We have put together some signs spotted throughout Ireland that demonstrate not only our great Irish wit, but more interestingy or scary depending on your point of view they gives us an insight into the people who put them up.