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.
In April 2018 the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins posthumously pardoned Maolra Seoighe (Myles Joyce) for his part in the infamous Maamtrasna Murders in 1882. Myles was one of three men hanged for the murders of members of the Joyce family in the West of Ireland in 1882.
The pardon was granted under Article 13.2 of the Irish Constitution on the advice of the Government. the Government's advice was based on a report commissioned from Dr Niamh Howlin of the UCD Sutherland School of Law, who identified several problems with the way the trial had been conducted. This is the second posthumous pardon granted since the foundation of the state.
Read the President's speech in full here.
The report of the trial is available here.
Applications are being accepted for the Student and Postdoctoral travel bursaries. These are designed to fund research trips made by graduate students and academics pursuing research into any area of Irish legal history. Full details and application forms can be found here.
On Wednesday 6 June the UCD Legal History Research Group hosted a roundtable workshop at the Sutherland School of Law. Scholars from Ireland, the United Kingdom and Germany examined the legal history of law and religion in Ireland, and the constitutional interactions between law and religion from the sixteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.
This interdisciplinary workshop consisted of a series of short presentations and focused discussions on a number of themes, including:
- the enforcement and circumvention of the Penal Laws,
- the limitations of Catholic Emancipation,
- the legal organization of the Catholic Church in Ireland,
- the constitution and disestablishment of the Church of Ireland,
- Protestant Kirk sessions courts,
- religion and the Constitutions of 1922 and 1937.
Professor Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde of the University of Bergen delivered a lecture entitled
"The Beauty and the Beast? The use of Irish Legal Ideas and Non-Use of Irish Substantial Law in Norwegian Medieval Law."
This lecture was organized with the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in collaboration with the UCD Sutherland School of Law.
26 April 2018 at 5pm, room F103A, Newman Building, University College Dublin.
Dr Jyoti Atwal (Jawaharlal Nehru University) delivered the annual VV Giri Lecture at the Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin.
"Margaret Cousins (1878-1954) in India and Ireland: Revisiting Suffragettes, National Ideals and Anti Imperialist Politics"
Years 1915-1916 hold special significance in the history of India and Ireland. Politically, the radical anti imperialist groups acquired confidence in the belief that revolution was achievable through armed uprising. Historians of anti imperialist movements (Chandra:1989; Josh:1992; Mukherjee:2005; Malley:2008) have pointed out to the international impact on the Indian freedom movement. The presence of VV Giri in Ireland and of Margaret Cousins in India during 1916 is highly significant. Their unique international experiences prepared them for an anti colonial methodology which included constitutionalism, Gandhian Satyagraha (passive resistance) and socialism. Margaret, an Irish suffragette and a founder of Irish Women’s Franchise League (1908) with Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, sailed for India with her husband, James, when the suffragette activism was at its peak.
This paper seeks to explore how feminist scholars have attempted to ‘put women into history’ in Ireland (Murphy:1992; Daly:2008;Paseta:2013;Urqhart:2001) and India (Basu:1990; Forbes:1996; Kumar:1993). I will focus on the period from 1916 till 936 when Margaret and James were actively engaged in the political life of India. I seek to address three themes - one, the question of politics of collectivity; second, creation of national ideals and thirdly, issues of economic reconstruction.
Dr Jyoti Atwal is Associate Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India & Adjunct Professor, Department of History, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Limerick, Ireland (September 2017- August 2022).
She engages with issues pertaining to Indian women in the reformist, nationalist and contemporary perspectives; socio cultural and religious aspects of women’s lives in colonial and post colonial India; women’s agenda and the nation; autobiographies of women and narratives of the personal and the political domains; politics of representations of gender relations in colonial India; dalit (low caste) women’s history.
She has recently published a book entitled Real and Imagined Widows: Gender Relations in Colonial North India, Delhi: Primus, 2016. She has recently introduced a new course on Women in Ireland: Reforms, Movements and Revolutions (1840-1930)’ for post graduate students at JNU.
Currently, Dr Atwal is researching on an Irish suffragist in colonial India – Margaret Cousins (1878-1954). She has been a Visiting Faculty at Dublin City University in 2013; Trinity College Dublin Long Room Fellow in 2012. She is a member of the executive team of the India Studies Centre Cork at University College Cork and a member of the editorial board of Women’s History Review (UK, Routledge).
'The Trial': a visual art exhibition which focuses on the experiences of those who have worked in the Irish penal system in the 19th and 20th centuries. It explores human rights and healthcare in the Irish criminal justice system.
UCD historians Catherine Cox and Fiachra Byrne have collaborated with men from the Bridge Project, Dublin to create this unique installation.
The exhibition ran from 18-23 April 2018 at the Old Courthouse in Kilmainham Gaol Museum.
See www.histprisonhealth.com for more details about the project.
The 2018 Spring Discourse was delivered by Dr. Marion Röwekamp from the Freie Universität, Berlin. Marking 100 years since the right to vote was extended to women, Dr. Röwekamp's lecture was entitled Women's Suffrage in Germany and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Röwekamp's publications include:
- Lawyers. Encyclopedia on life and work, ed. German Lawyers' Association, Nomos Verlag, Baden-Baden 2005.
- The first German lawyers: A history of their professionalization and emancipation 1900-1945 (Series Legal History and Gender Studies), Böhlau Verlag, Cologne, Weimar, Vienna 2011.
- Marie Munk. Attorney at Law - Judge - Law Reformer (Series Jewish Miniatures), Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich,, 2014.
- A soldier's home nurse on the eastern front. Correspondence from Annette Schücking with her family (1941-1943), ed. by Julia Paulus / Marion Röwekamp, Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2015.
- Sara Kimble / Marion Röwekamp (ed.), New Perspectives on European Women's Legal History (Studies in Gender and History series), New York / London: Routledge, 2016.
The Irish Legal History Society was delighted to announce the official launch of two recent publications in January 2018: Juries in Ireland:Laypersons and Law in the Long Nineteenth Century by Dr Niamh Howlin & Guardian of the Treaty: The Privy Council Appeal and Irish Sovereignty by Dr Thomas Mohr
The books were launched at a special event at the UCD Sutherland School of Law on Tuesday 30 January 2018. Professor Hector MacQueen of Edinburgh Law School, delivered a lecture entitled 'Reflections on Legal History.'
pictured: Dr Niamh Howlin, Dr Thomas Mohr, Professor Hector MacQueen and Ted.
- The Journal of Legal History (UK)
- Law and History Review
- Journal of Southern Legal History
- American Journal of Legal History
- Australian Journal of Legal History
- The Journal of Asian Legal History
- Forum Historiae Iuris (European web-based magazine of legal history)
- Ancilla Iuris (European-based web-based law and society journal, with English translations)
- Law and Society Review
- Journal of Legal Pluralism
- Yale Journal of Law and Humanities
- Crime, Histoire & Sociétés (Crime, History & Societies)
- The Journal of the History of International Law
- The Roman Legal Tradition
- Rechtsgeschichte - Legal History (Journal of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History)
The conference ‘Legal History and Empires: Perspectives from the Colonised’ will be held at The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, in Barbados from July 11 to 13, 2018. The conference is jointly sponsored by the Faculty of Law and Faculty of Humanities and Education of The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and an international group of legal historians and historians of the law.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Maya Jasanoff, Coolidge Professor of History, Harvard University
This conference follows the successful conference on the Legal Histories of the British Empire held at the National University of Singapore in 2012, and is similarly designed to bring together senior and emerging scholars working in the fields of imperial and colonial legal history.
We invite paper or panel proposals addressing legal histories of empires broadly, and encourage participants to think in particular how their research connects with the theme of the conference: perspectives from the colonized.
Without in any way limiting the range of proposals topics and themes might include: relations between Empires; histories from the peripheries of empire; mobilities, networks and transplants; law and gender; Indigenous histories and the law; slavery and indentured labour; regulation of labour; histories of immigration law; administration of justice and rule of law; histories of public or private law; colonial law and local circumstances; settler colonialism; crime; the professions.
Individual paper proposals should be maximum 300 words (and include a bio of no more than 100 words); panel proposals should consist of an overall panel theme (300 words), the titles of individual papers and short bios (no more than 100 words) of each presenter. Panels may include commentators.
Proposals should be sent to Prof Shaunnagh Dorsett, University of Technology Sydney (Shaunnagh.Dorsett@uts.edu.au) by 15 JANUARY 2018.
General inquiries about the Conference should be addressed to Dr. Asya Ostroukh, UWI, Cave Hill (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Conference website: http://www.cavehill.uwi.edu/Law/legal-history/home.aspx (Information, including accommodation options and additional optional activities on July 10 and 14 will be available soon.)
The 2017 Annual General Meeting of the Irish Legal History Society was held on Friday 1st December 2017 at 5pm in the Old Bar Library, Royal Courts of Justice, Chichester Street, Belfast
The Winter Discourse was delivered by:
Professor Jane Ohlmeyer
PH.D, F.R.HIST.S., M.R.I.A., F.T.C.D., Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History, Trinity College Dublin:
Lords, the Law and Litigation in Early Modern Ireland
Professor Ohlmeyer is an expert on the New British and Atlantic Histories and has published extensively on early modern Irish and British history. She has recently completed Making Ireland English: the formation of an aristocracy in the seventeenth century for Yale University Press and volume 2 of The Cambridge History of Ireland is currently in the press. She is currently working on an edition of Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon, A shorte view of the State and condicon of the kingdome of Ireland/The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in Ireland (Dublin, 1719/20 and London, 1720 and 1721) and a study of 'Colonial Ireland, Colonial India'. Professor Ohlmeyer is also an active proponent of 'Digital Humanities'
Over the years Professor Ohlmeyer has attracted significant amounts of highly competitive funding for her own research projects and for her graduate students. She has considerable expertise in overseeing major editorial projects and helped to secure over €1M in funding from the IRCHSS, the AHRC (the UK funding council) and Trinity College for the digitization and online publication of the '1641 Depositions'. She is a founding member of the Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity's humanities research institute and serves its Internal and External Advisory Boards and in a related initiative - 'Creativity, the City and the University' - which is linked to the Dublin Creative Alliance. She was closely involved in setting up the 'Humanities Serving Irish Society' consortium which under PRTLI 4 secured funding for the Digital Humanities Observatory. She is also the Principal Investigator for the Trinity College Dublin element of 'Humanities Serving Irish Society' which was awarded €10.78M as part of PRTLI 4.
- Making Ireland English: The Irish Aristocracy in the seventeenth century, London and New Haven, Yale University Press, 2012, 1 - 680pp
- Civil War and Restoration in the Three Stuart Kingdoms: the Political Career of Randal MacDonnell First Marquis of Antrim (1609-83) (Cambridge University Press, 1993; paperback reprint in Four Courts Press's 'Classics in Irish History' Series, Dublin, 2001), xxiii + 357 pages.
- The Irish Statute Staple Books, 1596-1687 (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 1998), with Éamonn Ó Ciardha, xvii + 380 pages.
- The 1641 Depositions - The online version is now available. Between 2011 and 2015 the Irish Manuscripts Commission will publish the 1641 Depositions in 12 volumes. Aidan Clarke is the principal editor and I am one of the co-editors, along with Tom Bartlett, John Morrill and Micheál Ó Siochrú.
- British Interventions in Early Modern Ireland editor with Ciaran Brady (Cambridge University Press, 2004; paperback 2010), xx + 371 pages.
- Kingdom or Colony?: Political Thought in seventeenth-century Ireland (Cambridge University Press, 2000; paper back 2010), xvii + 290 pages.
- The Civil Wars: A Military History of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1638-1660 (Oxford University Press, 1998; reprinted as part of the Oxford Illustrated History series, 2002), with John Kenyon, xl + 300 pages, 51 illustrations and 10 maps.
- Ireland from Independence to Occupation, 1641-1660 (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback, 2002), li + 309 pages.
- 'Making Ireland English: the seventeenth-century Irish peerage' in Brian MacCuarta (ed.), Reshaping Ireland 1590-1700: Colonization and its consequences: Essays presented to Nicholas Canny (Dublin, 2011).
- 'Society: the changing role of print - Ireland (to 1660)' in Joad Raymond (ed.), The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture, volume I (Oxford, 2011).
- 'The baronial context of the Civil War in Ireland' in John Adamson (ed.), The Civil Wars (London, 2008), pp. 106-24.
- 'Patronage and Restoration Politics: John Dryden and the House of Ormond' (with Steven Zwicker) in Historical Journal (2006), pp. 677-706.
- 'A Laboratory for Empire?: Early Modern Ireland and English Imperialism' in Kevin Kenny (ed.), Ireland and the British Empire (Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 26-60.
- 'Literature, Identity, and the New British Histories' in David Barker and Willy Maley, eds., British Identities and English Renaissance Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 245-55.
- 'Seventeenth-century Ireland and the New British and Atlantic Histories' in American Historical Review 104:2 (April, 1999), pp. 446-462
- '"Civilizinge of those rude partes". The colonization of Ireland and Scotland, 1580s-1640s' in The Oxford History of the British Empire, vol. 1, ed. N. Canny (Oxford Univ. Press, 1998), pp. 124-47.
- 'The Wars of Religion, 1603-60' in A Military History of Ireland, ed. Thomas Bartlett and Keith Jeffery (Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 160-187.
- 'The "Antrim Plot" of 1641 - a myth?', The Historical Journal, 35 (1992), pp. 905-19.
Recently published by Palgrave as part of their Modern Legal History series.
This multi-disciplinary study considers the intersection between law and family life in Ireland from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Setting the law in its wider social historical context it traces marriage from its formation through to its breakdown. It considers the impact of the law on such issues as adultery, divorce, broken engagements, marriage settlements, pregnancy, adoption, property, domestic violence, concealment of birth and inter-family homicide, as well as the historical origins of the Constitutional protection of the family. An underlying theme is the way in which the law of the family in Ireland differed from the law of the family in England.
With contributions by Maebh Harding, Karen Brennan, Mary O'Dowd, Diane Urquhart, Thomas Mohr, Deirdre McGowan, Michael Sinnott, Lindsey Earner-Byrne, Elaine Farrell, Simone McCoughran and Fred Powell.