Student Essay Competition



Undergraduates and postgraduates are invited to submit essays on any period of Irish legal history to compete for the Irish Legal History Society Student Essay Competition, now in its third year.

Founded in 1988, the Society examines, explores and engages with all issues relating to legal history on the island of Ireland, from earliest times to the present day, including the work of Irish lawyers abroad. Its mission is to encourage the study and advance the knowledge of the history of Irish law.  The essay competition was first held in 2021/22, and demonstrated the enthusiasm out there for the study of Irish legal history. Through this competition, the Society seeks to encourage and support this work.

Prize: The winning entrant will receive a prize of €250.

Eligibility: The competition is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Essays must be written in English and be the work of students who are enrolled in a third level institution in Ireland or abroad, or within one year expiration of that enrollment.

Essay/Submission Details: Essays must be no longer than 5,000 words (including all references). All entries must use an accepted referencing style (such as APA, Harvard, Oscola), be typed, double-spaced, and include an abstract of approximately 100 words. Entries should be submitted, in Word format, via email by the student or their lecturer/professor (including the student in the email submission). In the email, please include: name, institutional affiliation, degree programme (please specify if undergraduate or postgraduate), and enrollment particulars (e.g. which year).


Judging: Entries will be judged by the essay competition committee, assessed according to level and judged on the criteria:

1) relevance of content to Irish legal history;
2) makes a contribution to the knowledge base;
3) clarity of organisation and argument;
4) use of the literature, and
5) writing style/quality.


Please note: The Society reserves the right not to make an award in a given year.

Deadline: Essays should be received no later than 31st May 2024.

Results: Results will be announced no later than 30th September 2024.


Please email essay submissions to:
Dr Lynsey Black, School of Law and Criminology, Maynooth University –




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

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

Jessica Commins, ‘On Both Sides of the Aisle: Ireland and the Abolition of Slavery Act 1833’

Andrew Byrne Keefe, ‘An Act, a Fact, or a Mistake?: How Martial Law Contoured the Irish Rebellion of 1798’