Mary Phelan, Irish Speakers, Interpreters and the Courts 1754-1921 (Four Courts Press 2019).
This book was launched by Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh of the Court of Appeal at a reception at DCU on Tuesday 21 January 2020. The event was well-attended by academics from a number of disciplines including law, history, translation studies, Irish studies and linguistics.
Professor Dorothy Kenny from the DCU School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies welcomed attendees and the interdisciplinary and ground-breaking nature of the research was highlighted by Professor Patrick Geoghegan, President of the Irish Legal History Society. Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh spoke about the position of the Irish language in the State and in the courts, noting the continued relevance of a number of themes running through the book.
Dr Mary Phelan is a lecturer in the School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies (SALIS) at DCU. She is the chairperson of the Irish Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association and her research is in the field of Translation Studies, particularly historical provision of court interpreters and contemporary provision of interpreters in courts, police stations, hospitals and other settings.
The book is available for purchase directly from Four Courts Press, and is supplied free of charge to all ILHS members.
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
Our 2019 Winter Discourse takes place this Friday 6 December. Professor Richard English will deliver a paper entitled Legacies of the Irish Revolution: Ernie O’Malley and the IRA.
The Discourse begins at 6 pm in the Upper Bar Library, Royal Courts of Justice. All welcome.
Richard English is Professor of Politics at Queen’s University Belfast, where he is also Distinguished Professorial Fellow in the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. Professor English’s research focuses on the politics and history of nationalism, political violence, and terrorism, with a particular focus on Ireland and Britain. His books include Does Terrorism Work? A History (OUP, 2016), Modern War: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2013), Terrorism: How to Respond (OUP, 2009), Irish Freedom: The History of Nationalism in Ireland (Pan Macmillan, 2006), Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (Pan Macmillan, 2003), Ernie O’Malley: IRA Intellectual (OUP, 1998), and Radicals and the Republic: Socialist Republicanism in the Irish Free State 1925-1937 (OUP, 1994). He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, an Honorary Fellow of Keble College Oxford, and an Honorary Professor at the University of St Andrews. Professor English has given invited Lectures on his research in more than twenty countries. In 2018 he was awarded a CBE for services to the understanding of modern day terrorism and political history.
The Irish Legal History Society was deeply saddened to hear of the death of our friend, colleague and former President, Sir Anthony Hart.
Sir Anthony was a founder member and one of the first two Vice-Presidents of the Irish Legal History Society. He served as President from 1991 to 1994, during which period he invested much time and attention in widening the membership of the Society, not least in the United States of America. His service to the Council of the Society continued unbroken until his death. His contribution to the development of the Society was wise, unassuming, influential, and sustained. Through his membership of the Selden Society and his regular attendance at the British Legal History Conferences, he was an enthusiastic source of encouragement to many young legal historians and won many friends for the Irish Legal History Society.
Sir Anthony Hart
Sir Anthony was awarded the Gold Medal of the Society in 2012 for his outstanding contribution to legal scholarship. The author of A History of the King’s Serjeants at Law in Ireland (2000), and A History of the Bar and Inn of Court of Northern Ireland (2013) he also published papers in the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly and in two volumes in the Society’s collected discourses series.
Throughout his career, his commitment to historical research and to reconciliation was inspiring. In the days to come many tributes will be paid to him for his career as a lawyer and his legacy as a judge as well as his work chairing the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Northern Ireland. At this tragic time, the Society wishes to pay its own tribute to his considerable contribution to the scholarship of legal history and its appreciation across Ireland.
January 2019 saw the launch of Patrick Hyde Kelly’s edition of William Molyneux’s The Case of Ireland’s Being Bound by Acts of Parliament in England, Stated.
Regarded as the most celebrated Irish political pamphlet published before 1801, William Molyneux’s Case of Ireland, stated (1698) was written to demonstrate that English statutes did not have force in Ireland until they had been re-enacted by the Irish parliament.
The book was launched at Iveagh House on Friday 25 January by Professor Ian MacBride.
The book is available for purchase from Four Courts Press, and is free to members of the Society.
2019 marks the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 which facilitated access to the legal profession for women.
Dr Judith Bourne, ambassador for the First 100 Years Project, spoke at Queen’s University Belfast on 8 March to reflect on this historic change and explore the story of Helena Normanton, the first woman to practice as a barrister in England. Normanton was the first woman to be admitted to an Inn of Court after the passing of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 and was called to the Bar in 1922. Normanton would go on to be one of two first women King’s Counsels and one of the few women to maintain a practice at the bar at this time.
Dr Bourne is a Senior Lecturer at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.