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 the island of Ireland, 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.
Our major event for 2016 will be a 2-day conference at Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral, exploring the legacy of Magna Carta in Ireland.
Our 2017 Spring Discourse will take place on Friday 17 February at 5.30, at Regent House, Trinity College Dublin.
John F. Larkin, QC, Attorney General for Northern Ireland will deliver an address on: ‘The Irish Convention, 1917-18: Centenary Reflections’
Admission is free and all are welcome to attend. Members of the Society are invited to attend a dinner afterwards; please email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
About the Speaker
- John F Larkin QC was educated at St Mary's Christian Brothers Grammar School and at Queen's University Belfast.
- He was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in Michaelmas Term 1986 and later to the Bar of Ireland.
- Between 1989 and 1991 he was Reid Professor of Criminal Law in Trinity College Dublin.
- He took silk in Michaelmas term 2001. In the last ten years his practice has been mainly in Constitutional and Administrative Law and Human Rights.
Following the transfer of policing and criminal justice powers to Northern Ireland he was appointed Attorney General for Northern Ireland on 24 May 2010. He is the first person to hold the office separately since its functions were assumed by the Attorney General for England and Wales in 1972
.Regent House is located at the front of Trinity College Dublin's campus, on College Green, Dublin 2. The discourse will take place in the room overlooking College Green in which the Convention met 100 years ago.
‘We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right’
- Clause 40 of Magna Carta
In November 1216, The Great Charter of Ireland (Magna Carta Hibernae) was issued and arrived in Ireland in February 1217. 800 years later it is still noted as an international symbol of freedom and rights paving the way for the democratic systems which exist in in the world today.
Commissioned by Salisbury Cathedral in 2015, British and American composer, Tarik O’Regan has collaborated with poet and librettist Alice Goodman to create a commemorative piece for Magna Carta – ‘A Letter of Rights‘ for chamber choir and orchestra.
Marking the 800th anniversary of the arrival of Magna Carta in Ireland, Chamber Choir Ireland and the Irish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Paul Hillier will perform this large-scale work in Belfast, Limerick and finally in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, where a 14th century copy of Magna Carta is currently exhibited. Partnering A Letter of Rights in the programme is Handel’s brilliantly virtuosic Dixit Dominus.
Chamber Choir Ireland and Irish Chamber Orchestra are recognised as leaders in their artforms both on the island of Ireland and internationally and are delighted to once again partner for this unique programme of the new and the old. The tour has been made possible through a Touring and Dissemination of Work award from the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Thursday 23rd February, St. Thomas’ Parish Church, Belfast 7.30pm, £15/5 Tickets viawww.belfastmusicsociety.org
Saturday 25th February, St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick 8.00pm, €25/22 Tickets viawww.irishchamberorchestra.com/events/a-letter-of-rights
Sunday 26th February, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin 7.30pm, €25/22 Tickets viawww.irishchamberorchestra.com/events/a-letter-of-rights
The Irish Legal History Society marked the 800th anniversary of the transmission of Magna Carta to Ireland with a two-day conference in Christ Church Cathedral in November 2016. The conference explored the legal-historical background to Magna Carta in Ireland, the reception of the charter into English law in Ireland, the political and polemical uses to which the charter was put, and its twentieth and twentieth-first century invocations as a living presence in contemporary Irish law. Professor Paul Brand (All Souls, Oxford) delivered a keynote address on the impact of Magna Carta on the development of English law in medieval Ireland.
Speakers included: Claire Breay, Sean Duffy, Ian Campbell, Coleman Dennehy, Sparky Booker, Colum Kenny, Adrian Empey, James Kelly, Patrick Geoghegan, John Larkin, Bláthna Ruane.
The conference was recorded for podcasting by Real Smart Media, and is available here:
The School of Law at University College Cork, in association with the Irish Legal History Society, hosted a Legal History Evening on Thursday 10 November. This evening was part of a project undertaken by Professor Irene Lynch Fannon funded by the Irish Research Council as part of the Decade of Centenaries scheme covering the period 1916-1926.
The Judicial Studies Board of Northern Ireland was pleased to welcome Professor Sir John Baker to deliver a lecture entitled '1616: The Dismissal of Lord Chief Justice Coke' on 20 October. The subject of Sir John’s talk was particularly relevant to the perennially important themes of the independence of the judiciary and the maintenance of the rule of law.
Professor Sir John H Baker Q.C., LL.B., Ph.D. (Lond.), M.A., LL.D. (Cantab.), Hon. LL.D. (Chicago), F.B.A.; Downing Professor Emeritus of the Laws of England Sir John was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, and University College London (LLB, PhD). He was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1966 and was elected an Honorary Bencher in 1988.
His first academic post was as an Assistant Lecturer in Law at University College London, in 1965. In 1967 he was promoted to Lecturer, and in 1971 moved to the University of Cambridge. There he was Librarian of the Squire Law Library until 1973, and became a Fellow of St Catharine's College. His rooms were above the Sherlock Library until his retirement. In 1973 he became a Lecturer in Law at University of Cambridge. He was appointed Reader in English Legal History at the University of Cambridge in 1983. In 1988 he was appointed Professor of English Legal History.
From 1998 until 2011 he was Downing Professor of the Laws of England. He was President of St Catharine's College, Cambridge until 2007 when he was succeeded by Professor Sir Christopher Alan Bayly. He was also Literary Director of the Selden Society until 2011 (jointly with David Yale 1981-91, sole 1991-2011) when he was succeeded by Dr Neil Jones.
Appointments have included Visiting Professor, New York University School of Law since 1988, Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford in 1995, Honorary Fellow, Society for Advanced Legal Studies 1998, Corresponding Fellow American Society for Legal History 1992, and Foreign Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2001. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (1984) and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (1980). He was appointed a Fellow of University College London in 1991, awarded an Honorary LLD of the University of Chicago in 1991, and received the Yorke Prize (University of Cambridge) 1975, and the Ames Prize (Harvard Law School) in 1985. He was knighted in 2003. In 2004, he was awarded the Irish Legal History Society's Gold Medal
Law and The Idea of Liberty in Ireland: From Magna Carta to the Present
What is the place of Ireland in the story of Magna Carta’s global dissemination? Four centuries before the Great Charter crossed the Atlantic, it was already implanted across the Irish Sea. A two-day conference in the Music Room of Christ Church Cathedral will explore the legal-historical background to Magna Carta in Ireland, the reception of the charter into English law in Ireland, the political and polemical uses to which the charter was put, and its twentieth and twentieth-first century invocations as a living presence in contemporary Irish law.
The conference takes place on 25 and 26 November and places can be booked via Eventbrite.
View and download the programme:
Further details are available here.
The Society gratefully acknowledges the support so generously given by the sponsors of this conference and without which it could not have taken place.
- Christ Church Cathedral Library and Archives Committee
- The Grace Lawless Lee Fund, Trinity College Dublin
- The Medieval History Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin
- The Humanities Institute, University College Dublin.
- Sir Anthony Hart
- The Law Society of Ireland
The Society would also like to thank its publishers Four Courts Press for sponsoring the coffee break on Friday and the publishers whose leaflets are enclosed in the conference pack.
The Sutherland School of Law at UCD has recently published two short TED-type talks on legal history topics.
Dr Thomas Mohr speaks about the relationship between the Irish Free State and the Privy Council Appeal. Dr Mohr explores this issue further in his recent book, Guardian of the Treaty: The Privy Council Appeal and Irish Sovereignty (Four Courts Press, 2016)
Dr Niamh Howlin speaks about 'Cuckolded Husbands and the Law', of which more can be read in a forthcoming book, Kevin Costello and Niamh Howlin (eds), Law and the Family in Ireland 1800-1950 (Palgrave Macmillan)
Ius Commune in the Making: The Place of Legal Sources in the History of Private Law
The 21st Ius Commune Conference will take place in Maastricht from 24-25 November 2016, and a panel will be devoted to the role of legal sources in the history of Private Law.
Legal changes can be often explained by attending the interaction of legal actors, legal sources, and legal institutions. Legal sources indeed play an important role and occupy a paramount place in the shaping of private law. They offer the necessary building blocks for private law, together with a playfield for legal actors and legal institutions. The current Workshop builds on a previous Workshop on Comparative Legal History held during the 19th Ius Commune Conference and that explored the role of legal actors.
The current Workshop aims now to explore the place of legal sources promoting or hindering changes in private law. Perspectives will be extracted from different time periods, including Roman law, Ius commune, nineteenth-century codification, and the more recent efforts towards an European private law harmonization. The praetorian Edict, medieval glosses and commentaries, early modern handbooks on natural or customary law, collections of judicial decisions since the end of the early modern period, the modern codifications all related differently to legal and societal changes. The question is whether these sources promoted private law to be in harmony (Einklang) with society and societal changes.
Senior researchers and PhD candidates are invited to submit an abstract of a paper related to the above mentioned theme. Abstracts (aprox. 400 words) should be sent to Agustin Parise (email@example.com) by July 20, 2016.
For further information, please contact:
Harry Dondorp (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Michael Milo (email@example.com)
Pim Oosterhuis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Agustin Parise (email@example.com)
JEV Research Fellowship for European Administrative History 2017
The research fellowship is donated by Professor Erk Volkmar Heyen who until his retirement had been holder of the chair of Public Law and European Administrative Law at the Ernst Moritz Arndt University Greifswald. He was also the editor of the “Jahrbuch für europäische Verwaltungsgeschichte/Yearbook of European Administrative History” (JEV). His awarding is based on a selection procedure organized by the Max Planck Institute.
Applications for the year 2017 can be submitted until 30 September 2016.
As we approach the centenary in 2019 of women’s admission to the legal profession in the UK and Ireland, lawyers and legal scholars have initiated several projects to mark this achievement which aim to uncover and recover the history of women’s experiences of law. These include the Women’s Legal Landmarks project, the First 100 Years project and the First Women Lawyers in Great Britain and the Empire Symposium series. This is a golden age for legal scholars undertaking historical work on women and law and for historians working on legal issues.
At the same time, many scholars involved in these and other projects face challenges of methodological insecurity, if not ignorance, because they are working outside their own discipline and sources. Women’s legal history, while well-developed in North America, is still in its infancy in the UK and Ireland.
A conference will take place at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studes in London on 26 October 2016.
The aim of this conference is to bring together scholars working in the field to share experiences of doing women’s legal history, to learn from each other, and to build and develop the discipline of feminist legal history (that is, women’s legal history from a feminist perspective) in the UK and Ireland.
There will be two plenary speakers at the conference:
- June Purvis, feminist historian, editor of the Women’s History Review and convenor of the Women’s History Network, who will talk about researching the suffragette movement from a feminist perspective and how the suffragettes have so often been represented by traditional (usually male) historians as mad, irrational, and damaging to the cause of votes for women; and
- Gillian Murphy from the Women’s Library at the LSE, who will discuss the holdings of the Women’s Library including both primary and secondary sources relevant to scholars working on women’s legal history.
If you are interested in presenting a paper at the conference, please submit a title and abstract of 250 words to the organiser, Rosemary Auchmuty, to whom enquiries on the academic content of the conference should also be addressed. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is 31 July 2016.
For general enquiries please contact: Belinda Crothers, Academic Programmes Manager Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR. Email: Belinda.Crothers@sas.ac.uk
The American Society for Legal History's annual conference 2016 takes place in Toronto, Ontario from 27-30 October. Details about the conference and how to book are available here.
On 27 October, a one-day workshop will be held at the downtown campus of Osgoode Hall Law School to increase awareness of digital legal history, and encourage discussion of how digital methods and technologies can be used to analyze and present the legal past, and of new initiatives to undertake such projects.
The workshop combines an extended showcase of four projects that each employs a different approach — O Say Can You See: Early Washington, D.C., Law and Family; The Lawyers’ Code: Tracking the Migration and Influence of the Field Code; Digital Harlem; and Voices of Authority: the Old Bailey Courtroom — and a set of hands-on workshops offering a beginner-level introduction to the methods used in those projects. Further details are available on the workshop website.
We are delighted to announce the publication of Dr. Thomas Mohr's Guardian of the Treaty by Four Courts Press. Further details are available on our publications page.
All members of the Society will receive a complimentary copy, while non-members can purchase their copy here.
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was the final appellate court of the British Empire. Dr. Mohr examines the history of the Irish appeal to the Privy Council in the 1920s and 30s, and looks at the politics behind appeals.
In 1935 the Irish Free State became the first part of the Empire to abolish the right of appeal to the Privy Council.
The front cover features a painting of the Privy Council chamber by Ptolemy Dean.