Membership of the Society is open to anyone. Our Society includes members of the judiciary, practising lawyers, academic lawyers, historians, students and members of the general public.
The Irish Legal History Society examines, explores and engages with all issues relating to legal history on this island, from earliest times to the present day. Founded in 1988, the Society holds two Discourses annually, as well as publishing scholarly works on a range of legal history subjects. On this website you can see our range of publications, you can find out about our recent and future events, as well as information about joining.
One of our recent publications has been attracting widespread positive reviews on both sides of the Irish Sea. W.N. Osborough's The Irish Stage: a Legal History (Four Courts Press, 2015) has been favourably reviewed in the Dublin Review of Books (November 2015) and the Times Literary Supplement (March 2016) [subscription required]
The book has been described as 'meticulously researched...highly original' (TLS), and Professor Osborough described as 'the doyen of Irish legal academics' (DRB). Further details about the book are available on our Publications page.
The latest issue of Comparative Legal History is a special edition on Lay Participation in Legal Systems:
Markus Dubber & Heikki Pihlajamäki: 'Lay participation in modern law: a comparative historical analysis'
David Mirhady: 'Knowing the law and deciding justice: lay expertise in the democratic Athenian courts'
Anthony Musson: 'Lay participation: the paradox of the jury'
Niamh Howlin: 'The politics of jury trials in nineteenth-century Ireland' (limited free access here)
Simon Stern: 'Forensic oratory and the jury trial in nineteenth-century America'
Markus Dubber: 'The schizophrenic jury and other palladia of liberty: a critical historical analysis'
As part of the RDS Library Speaker Series, Robert D. Marshall will deliver a paper entitled:
Law and Insurgency: the Irish Experience of 1916 on Tuesday 3 May at 6.30 p.m. The event is open to the public but advance booking is essential. Tickets can be booked here.
On Easter Monday, at Iveagh House, Felix Larkin will discuss the democratic and moral credentials of the Easter Rising, issues which the independent Irish state has tended to ignore in its official commemorations and celebrations of 1916 – and which even historians have been reluctant to address.
More details are available here.
As part of the ongoing 1916 commemorations, three members of the Council of the Irish Legal History Society have contributed to the latest edition Irish Independent's Special 1916 Supplement Series.
These supplements are aimed at a broad readership and will be made available in all secondary schools.
Dr Niamh Howlin: "The Trial of Roger Casement: A Legal Travesty?"
Mr. Felix M. Larkin: "Out of Step: Dublin Newspapers' Response to the Rising"
Mr. Robert Marshall: "Charles Blackader: Old Black's Military Court Fired Volleys"
The Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (MPIeR) will be awarding several scholarships for a research stay at the institute in 2017.
Postdoc Scholarships enable highly qualified researchers from abroad who already obtained a PhD to either develop a new research topic in a thematically relevant context or to pursue an already existing project. Established researchers from abroad who have received their PhD more than 10 years ago can apply for a Research Scholarship, which enables them to come to the institute as a guest in order to pursue their own research project at the MPIeR.
The deadline is March 2016 to start in 2017. They are for 3 or 6 months and are paid (€2100 p.m. for postdoc, 2300 p.m. for research).
click here for further details
We are delighted to announce that our Spring Discourse for 2016 will take place on
Friday 26 February at 6 pm at the Law Society in Belfast.
Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore will deliver a paper entitled:
"Appellate Committee to Supreme Court: Plus Ca Change?"
We look forward to welcoming both members and non-members to this event.
The 2015 Annual General Meeting of the Irish Legal History Society took place at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland on 27 November 2015. Reports from the Secretaries and Treasurers were delivered, and auditors and office-holders were elected for the coming year.
Maggie Smith, the Director and Deputy Keeper of the Records welcomed members of the Society and explained the Public Record Office's operation and collections.
The Gold Medal of the Society was awarded to the Hon Mr Justice Ronan Keane, former Chief Justice of Ireland.
Mr Robert Marshall's term as President of the Society ended and the Hon. Sir Donnell Deeny now takes the reins.
On 27 November outgoing President of the Society, Mr Robert Marshall, delivered his presidential discourse. His paper, entitled 'Lisnafanna: A Townland in Turmoil on the Cavan Headford Estate 1870-1900', was based on a close study of the Headford estate papers. The paper provided some fascinating insights into the existence and operation of subversive or subaltern law on a Cavan estate in the late nineteenth century. It looked specifically at the National League's boycotting campaign and how this operated at a local and personal level. Interestingly, even on an estate where the Plan was in place, roughly two thirds of rent was still paid.
Mr Marshall went on to consider the legal procedures and processes which followed the fatal shooting of one of the boycotters. The coroner's inquest saw the apportionment of some blame to the constabulary. Although a verdict of murder was returned by the coroner's jury, the grand jury, by contrast, found 'no true bill', and the case did not proceed to trial.
All of this illustrates the role of the community in policing and sanctioning certain behaviours, and it the paper also explored the complex relationship between the 'official' law and the subaltern code.
A full text of the paper will be published in one of the Society's upcoming collections of essays.
The British Crime Historians Symposium meets every two years as a forum for discussion, debate and the presentation of research for all aspects of the history of crime, law, justice, policing, punishment and social regulation. The Symposium's initial starting point is the British Isles and its former colonies. However we particularly encourage approaches that open up and develop comparative and transnational frameworks across period and place.
This year’s conference particularly welcomes proposals that engage with the following:
• Interdisciplinary perspectives
• Comparative, international and transnational histories
• The relationship between past and present
Confirmed Keynotes Speakers are: Professor David Garland (New York University) and Dr Julia Laite (Birkbeck, University of London).
We welcome proposals for individual papers as well as panels, which should be emailed as an attached Word document to BCH5@ed.ac.uk by 31 March 2016.
For each individual paper proposed please include: title of paper; name, institutional affiliation (if any) and email address of speaker; abstract of 250 words. Proposals for panels should also include: name, institutional affiliation (if any) and email address of the panel organiser; title of panel; summary of aims of panel (150 words); name of panel chair if known (if not included in the proposal a chair will be allocated by the conference committee); and full details of all papers and speakers (as for individual papers above).
The Conference Committee is: Chloe Kennedy (School of Law, University of Edinburgh); Louise Jackson, David Silkenat and Rian Sutton (School of History Classics & Archaeology, University of Edinburgh). Any queries should be addressed to: BCH5@ed.ac.uk
Members of the ILHS may be interested to join the Welsh Legal History Society. The society was founded in 1999, and exists to spread knowledge of, and promote research into, the rich history of law in Wales. That history extends from a fascinating medieval indigenous legal system to the specific (sometimes surprising) application of law within Wales in more modern times.
The work of lawyers and commentators with Welsh connections is also addressed by the Society. Its historical interests cover both the doctrinal history of the law and the contextual study of the law in the society in which it operates.
The Society holds lectures and conferences, and publishes annual volumes which are included in the subscription rate of £20 for individuals within Europe, or £30 for individuals further overseas.
For more details about the society, or to join, please see the website www.welshlegalhistory.org or contact:
Professor T.G. Watkin
School of Law
Click HERE for membership form.
Our 2013 volume Lawyers, the Law and History, edited by Felix M Larkin and Norma Dawson, has recently received favourable reviews in both the James Joyce Quarterly ('superbly edited') and the Law Quarterly Review ('well-researched').