Conference to mark the centenary of the Courts of Justice Act 1924

Conference to mark the centenary of the Courts of Justice Act 1924

The Irish Legal History Society is pleased to partner with University College Dublin and the Courts Service to mark the centenary of the Courts of Justice Act 1924. This Act was signed into law on 12 April 1924, and was one of the most significant pieces of legislation passed in the Free State.

The centenary will be marked on 12 April 2024 by a special event at Dublin Castle, the venue of the first sittings of the new courts. The event includes talks, guided tours, an exhibition and a musical performance. Speakers at the conference include academics from across the island, as well as members of the judiciary.

Later in the year, a book of essays will be published by the Society in association with Four Courts Press.

A programme for the conference can be READ HERE.

 

 

 

Spring Discourse to be given by Sir Declan Morgan, PC

Spring Discourse to be given by Sir Declan Morgan, PC

The Irish Legal History Society Spring Discourse will take place at The Inn of Court, Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast, 6.30 on Friday, 19 April 2024.

The Discourse will be given by Sir Declan Morgan, PC.
The title of the lecture is:

‘Baron MacDermott:
Soldier, Sportsman, Statesman, and Chief Justice’.

 

Attendance is, as always, free, but advance registration is necessary.
Those wishing to attend should sign up, via Eventbrite, HERE

 

The Inn of Court
Royal Courts of Justice
Chichester Street
Belfast

The Fifth Court podcast recognised

The Fifth Court podcast recognised

Society council member, Mark Tottenham BL (with Peter Leonard BL) received an award for ‘Outstanding Legal Podcast’ by the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association.

 

Presented by Attorney General Rossa Fanning and DSBA President Matthew Kenny, the decision, the distinguished audience was told, was ‘unanimous’.

 

Running since April 2022, the series has featured the most prominent legal minds from both practice and academia.

 

All episodes of the podcast can be found here

 

Prizegiving for Inaugural Student Essay Competition

Prizegiving for Inaugural Student Essay Competition
 
The 2023 Spring Discourse held at Marsh’s Library saw the formal awarding of the prizes to the winners of the inaugural Irish Legal History Society Student Essay Competition. The competition, which aims to showcase the work of students in the field of Irish legal history, was first run in 2021-22. In its inaugural year, it received a very encouraging response and in their deliberations the judging committee decided to split the prize between an undergraduate and a postgraduate winner.

Prize winners received copies of Irish Legal History Society/Four Courts Press volumes with commemorative book plates.

The postgraduate winner was Andrew Byrne Keeffe, a JD/PhD candidate in sociology and social policy at Harvard University (having formerly carried out research at Trinity College Dublin), who took the prize with the essay: ‘An Act, a Fact, or a Mistake?: How Martial Law Contoured the Irish Rebellion of 1798’. Andrew received a copy of The Court of Admiralty of Ireland, 1575–1893.

Jessica Commins, of University College Dublin, and now undertaking postgraduate study at the University of Amsterdam, received Lawyers, the Law and History, for her winning essay: ‘On Both Sides of the Aisle: Ireland and the Abolition of Slavery Act 1833′.

Ms Commins was able to attend on the night, and addressed the audience about what inspired her to consider the Irish role and reaction to the Abolition of Slavery Act. Ms Commins is pictured here with a patron of the Society, Dame Siobhan Roisin Keegan, Lady Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.

Prof. Elaine Farrell & Dr Leanne McCormick gave the Winter Discourse discussing the Bad Bridget project

Prof. Elaine Farrell & Dr Leanne McCormick gave the Winter Discourse discussing the Bad Bridget project

On a cold December evening in Belfast, members of the Society assembled in the beautiful Harbour Commissioners building near Belfast’s docklands to hear about Irish women and girls who arrived in the ports of New York and Toronto in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Professor Elaine Farrell from Queen’s University Belfast and Dr Leanne McCormick from Ulster University provided a lively and engaging lecture on their Bad Bridget project, which considers the criminalisation of Irish women and girls in North America. Unusually among migration patterns at the time, these women and girls tended to travel unaccompanied, and many of them were in their teens or even younger. They found themselves before the courts and populating the prisons in staggering numbers, for everything from drunkenness to sex work to murder, and at one stage represented over 80% of the population of women prisoners in these cities. The lecture addressed how these women were portrayed in court and in the press, examining issues of gender, Irishness and the performative nature of court proceedings.

Attendees included the two patrons of the Society, Chief Justice Donal O’Donnell and Lady Chief Justice Siobhan Keegan. There was a lively discussion after the discourse, and Dr Coleman Dennehy proposed a vote of thanks on behalf of the Society.

 

(L to R: Prof. Elaine Farrell, Mr John Gordon, DL, Dr Leanne McCormick, Dr Coleman Dennehy)

Annual General Meeting & Winter Discourse – 1 December 2023

Annual General Meeting & Winter Discourse – 1 December 2023

The Irish Legal History Society Winter Discourse & Annual General Meeting will take place in the Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office from 5.30 on Friday, 1 December 2023

The Discourse will be given by Prof. Elaine Farrell (Queen’s, Belfast) & Dr Leanne McCormick (University of Ulster)
The title of the lecture is ‘The trials of Bad Bridget’

Attendance is, as always, free, but advance registration is necessary.
Those wishing to attend should sign up, via Eventbrite, HERE

 

Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office
Corporation Square
Belfast BT1 3AL

 

5.30 Coffee and walk-around the building
6.00 Annual General Meeting
6.45 Winter Discourse

 

Announcement of the ILHS Student Essay Prize Winners

Announcement of the ILHS Student Essay Prize Winners

In 2021, the Irish Legal History Society announced its inaugural student essay competition. This initiative celebrates the rich legal history scholarship being carried out by students in Ireland and around the world.
The Society invited all students, undergraduate and postgraduate, to submit essays on the topic of Irish legal history. In the second year of the competition, we were again thrilled to receive a fantastic response from students! In light of the quality of the submissions, the ILHS judging committee decided to split the prize, awarding an undergraduate and a postgraduate winner.
The prizes will be awarded at an upcoming ILHS event where we look forward to officially congratulating the winners!

ILHS Essay Prize Undergraduate Winner
Maitiú Breathnach (UCD, BCL, 2023; currently studying for an LLM, Trinity College Dublin, in Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law)

ILHS Essay Prize Postgraduate Winner
Emma Quinn (NYU, MA in Irish and Irish-American Studies, 2024)

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Q&A with the Winners
We asked Maitiú and Emma to tell us a bit about themselves and talk about their winning essays.

Maitiú Breathnach, ‘Hidden Trials?: The Case of the Easter Rising Field General Court-Martials’

My essay focuses on the field general court-martials of the participants in the 1916 Easter Rising. I consider the numerous procedural defects, arguably present in the operation of the court-martials, as well as confusion surrounding the exact legal basis under which they occurred. Key to my commentary is the case of R v Governor of Lewes Prison, ex parte Doyle [1917] 2 KB 254, which offers many insights into the above areas.
I chose this essay topic as I was interested in the interface between law and the Easter Rising. I was curious to consider the legal underpinning of the court-martials in the aftermath of the Rebellion, trials which proved to have a momentous impact on the course of Irish history.
The competition was introduced to me in the course of a stimulating legal history module taught by Dr Thomas Mohr and Dr Kevin Costello in UCD, which prompted me to enter.
I’ve recently graduated from U.C.D (BCL class of 23) with a First Class Honours in Law and am now enrolled in a Masters Programme in Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law in TCD. I’m currently an FE-1 candidate and my intent is to practice as a solicitor in the future. Some of my other interests include History, Classics and swimming.

Emma Quinn, ‘The Sovereignty of Silence: Women Witnesses to the Carrigan Report and the Rise and Fall of Professional Womanhood in Ireland, 1880-1937’

This essay traces the seeming incongruity between the identities of the witnesses testifying for The Carrigan Committee of 1930-1931 and the resulting draconian and punitive recommendations regarding sexual immorality and sex crimes in the Irish Free State. While two-thirds of witnesses called to testify in front of the committee were women in professional fields, the final report only explicitly mentioned the women participants once, underemphasizing their roles as experts and suppressing their novel suggestions to prevent crime, especially sexual education and pathways to rehabilitation. By tracing the various paths to professionalization that the women witnesses took, through healthcare, political activism, or charity work, this essay discusses how their gender aided their value as witnesses but also led to the occlusion of their testimony.
I am a dual degree master’s student studying Irish and Irish-American Studies at New York University and Library and Information Science at Long Island University. I am very interested in the complicated role that religious sisters play as both enforcers and transgressors of gender roles and acceptable behavior for women in both Irish and Irish-American contexts. When I read James Smith’s Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment for a seminar class led by Dr. Peter Hession, I was struck by the representation of professional women witnesses in this event so thoroughly defined by what Smith calls “Ireland’s containment culture.” I wrote this essay to explore that uneasy dichotomy, and in doing so discovered a generation of women doctors, activists, and charity administrators that advocated against the path that would eventually cause unquantifiable amounts of shame, suffering, and sexual control across Ireland for decades, with continuing aftershocks to this day.

Prof. Ohlmeyer made a Fellow of the British Academy

Prof. Ohlmeyer made a Fellow of the British Academy

The Irish Legal History Society would like to send our warmed congratulations to our former Councillor, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, on her election as a Fellow of the British Academy.

On her election, Prof Ohlmeyer said “To be recognised by one’s peers in this way is very special indeed. I am deeply grateful to the British Academy. I will look forward to working with colleagues in the years ahead to consolidate existing and nurture fresh collaborations between Ireland and the UK and beyond and to advocate for the importance of the humanities and social sciences and, more generally, for frontier research.”