The extent and duration of interpreter provision for Irish speakers appearing in court in the long nineteenth century have long been a conundrum. In 1737 the Administration of Justice (Language) Act stipulated that all legal proceedings in Ireland should take place in English, thus placing Irish speakers at a huge disadvantage, obliging them to communicate through others, and treating them as foreigners in their own country. Gradually, over time, legislation was passed to allow the grand juries, forerunners of county councils, to employ salaried interpreters. Drawing on extensive research on grand jury records held at national and local level, supplemented by records of correspondence with the Chief Secretary’s Office in Dublin Castle, this book provides definitive answers on where, when, and until when, Irish language court interpreters were employed. Contemporaneous newspaper court reports are used to illustrate how exactly the system worked in practice and to explore official, primarily negative, attitudes towards Irish speakers. The famous Maamtrasna murders trials, where, most unusually for such a serious case, a police constable acted as court interpreter, are discussed. The book explains the appointment process for interpreters, discusses ethical issues that arose in court, and includes microhistories of some 90 interpreters.
Mary Phelan is a lecturer at the School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies, Dublin City University. Her published works relate mainly to contemporary interpreter provision and translation.
This book is sent free of charge to all members of the ILHS, and can be purchased directly from Four Courts Press here.
In 2018 Dr Claudia Passarella from the University of Padua visited Dublin to conduct research into Irish judges and juries. This trip was funded by the Irish Legal History Society Post-Doctoral Bursary. Dr Passarella was able to access a range of legal and historical sources during her stay in Dublin, at UCD Special Collections, Trinity College Early Printed Books, the National Library of Ireland and the National Archives of Ireland.
This article aims to investigate the relationship between professional judges and laypersons in criminal matters, with special reference to the decision-making procedure performed by the Irish system and the Italian system in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The paper focuses on judges’ and jurors’ duties both before and after the verdict. This field of research provides context for a careful consideration on some fundamental issues, such as the judges’ charges and their influence over the jury, the principle of reasonable doubt, the distinction between unanimous verdicts and verdicts by majority vote, and the consequences of a disagreement among jurors. A comparative approach reveals how two European countries with a distinctive legal tradition faced the same problems by adopting different solutions.
Dr Pasarella’s other publications, in both English and Italian, can be viewed here: https://unipd.academia.edu/claudiapassarella