Autumn Discourse 2018

The 2018  Autumn Discourse was delivered by the Hon. Sir Donnell Deeny at the Graduates Memorial Building, Trinity College Dublin on Friday 23 November.

The title of the Presidential Address was:

“The Trials of Arthur Donnelly: A Cause Célèbre of the 1870s”

The Rt Hon Lord Justice Deeny is a Privy Councillor, as well as the Pro Chancellor of Dublin University. His paper was followed by lively discussion. Members of the Society were then invited to a reception hosted by the Provost, marking thirty years since the foundation of the Society in 1988.


American Journal of Legal History

The latest edition of the American Journal of Legal History has now been published ( 58:3 (September 2018)).


  • Revisiting the Critiques of Those Who Upheld the Fugitive Slave Acts in the 1840s and ‘50s
    Peter Karsten
  • The Law Wars in Massachusetts, 1830-1860: How a Band of Upstart Radical Lawyers Defeated the Forces of Law and Order, and Struck a Blow for Freedom and Equality Under Law
    Alexandra D Lahav; R Kent Newmyer
  • “O Amherst, Where is Thy Shame?”: Republican Opposition to Federalist Policies in a New England Town    Susan J Siggelakis; Nicholas Mignanelli
  • Judicial Intervention in Early Corporate Governance Disputes: Vice-Chancellor Shadwell’s Lost Judgment in Mozley v Alston (1847)    Victoria Barnes

Book Reviews

  • David Barker, A History of Australian Legal Education    Mark Lunney
  • Dante Fedele, Naissance de la diplomatie moderne (XIIIe-XVIIe siècles). L’ambassadeur au croisement du droit, de l’éthique et de la politique
    Frederik Dhondt
  • Shaunnagh Dorsett, Juridical Encounters: Ma-ori and the Colonial Courts 1840 – 1852
    Katherine Sanders
  • Guido Rossi, Insurance in Elizabethan England. The London Code
    Dave De ruysscher
  • Mark Lunney, A History of Australian Tort Law 1901–1945: England’s Obedient Servant? Henry Kha

Call for Papers: Contested Kinship, Göttingen

International Conference, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, 14-16 March 2019. Dealdine for abstracts: 1 October 2018.

Keynote Speakers: Professor Margaret Homans (Yale University) and Professor Elisabeth Peel (Loughborough University)

Throughout Western history and legal traditions, kinship has been firmly rooted within the bounds of blood relations. This naturalisation of kinship continues in modern technologies: genetic research projects such as the Human Genome Project and technologies such as DNA kinship analysis extend the concept of blood relations from the unit of the family to that of ethnic groups. Legal regimes equally tend to the privileging of genetic relations, even today.

From a Cultural Studies perspective, this is highly problematic: it points towards an essentialist understanding of kinship, predetermined by birth; it naturalises subjecthood based on genetic bonds and genealogy; it attributes symbolic value to a concept of genetic sameness rather than diversity; and it supports the family as a key site of power and discipline.

Arguments for a non-essentialist redefinition of kinship have been put forward from a number of fields, including philosophy, gender studies, literary and cultural studies, and cultural anthropology. Judith Butler (2004) reads kinship as a problematic allegory for the origin of culture, arguing for an understanding of kinship beyond the normative restraints of biological relations. Similarly, Donna Haraway (1995) takes a dim view of the historically fatal consequences of blood-based kinship. However, the attraction of the genealogical origin is not limited to patriarchal narratives. Margaret Homans (2013) has looked at origin stories in adoption narratives and pointed to the paradoxical situation of feminism which on the one hand advocates non-essentialist, non-nuclear, non-heteronormative forms of kinship, and on the other hand acknowledges the power of the particular relation between birthmother and child. Damien Riggs and Elizabeth Peel (2016) finally have staked out the field of critical kinship studies and formulated its focus as “the need to move beyond a humanist account of kinship.”

This conference aims at following this premise, and seeks to further research in the field of critical kinship studies by bringing together different disciplinary perspectives into a cultural hermeneutic approach. It invites contributions from a variety of academic fields, including anthropology, history, law, literary studies and others.

Possible topics include:

new biopolitical and legal forms of kinship: processes of naturalisation
elective affinities, alliances, networks: kinship metaphors and kinship technologies
the naturalisation of kinship in narratives.
plural forms of kinship
the myth of blood relations
interdependencies of legal, social, medial and biotechnical discourses
genealogy as a literary and cultural pattern
otherkin and transhuman discourses and figures of thought

We invite abstracts of 300 words for 20-min. presentations before 1 October 2018 to

Organizers: Prof. Dr. Inge Kroppenberg, Civil Law and Legal History; Göttingen Centre for Gender Studies; Dr. Nikolaus Linder, Legal History; Göttingen Centre for Gender Studies; Prof. Dr. Barbara Schaff, English Literature and Cultural Studies; Göttingen Centre for Gender Studies

Postdoctoral Bursary 2018

The Irish Legal History Society is delighted to announce that the 2018 Postdoctoral Bursary is awarded to Dr Claudia Passarella from the University of Padua.

Dr. Passarella graduated in Law with honours in 2011 from the University of Padua with a thesis directed by Professor Chiara Maria Valsecchi. She received her Ph.D. in Legal Sciences (History of Medieval and Modern Law) from the University of Milan in 2015. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on the administration of criminal justice in modern Venice. From July 2015 to June 2016 Dr. Claudia Passarella carried out her research project thanks to the Postdoctoral Fellowship provided by the Fratelli Confalonieri Foundation (Milan). Since July 2016, she has been working as Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Padua. Her recent publications include:

  • Claudia Passarella, La pena di morte a Venezia in età moderna, «Historia et Ius», XI (2017), peer review journal, paper 14, pp. 1-27
  • Claudia Passarella, La tortura giudiziaria nella Repubblica di Venezia nei secoli XVI-XVI «Historia et Ius», IX (2016), peer review journal, paper 10, pp. 1-29
  • Claudia Passarella, Tre pratiche civili del foro veneziano: un primo confronto, «Studi veneziani», LXXII (2015), pp. 293-326
  • Claudia Passarella, Deciani Tiberio, in Clariores. Dizionario biografico dei docenti e degli studenti dell’Università di Padova, Piero del Negro (Ed.), Padova, University Press, 2015, pp. 126-127
  • Claudia Passarella, Guido da Suzzara, in Clariores. Dizionario biografico dei docenti e degli studenti dell’Università di Padova, Piero del Negro (Ed.), Padova, University Press, 2015, pag. 184\Claudia Passarella, I conflitti di attribuzione tra potere giudiziario e amministrazione, in Avvocati protagonisti e rinnovatori del primo diritto unitario, Stefano Borsacchi – Gian Savino Pene Vidari (Eds.), Bologna, Il Mulino, 2014, pp. 859-871
  • Claudia Passarella, Venetian Rectors and Jurisdiction in the Terraferma – I rettori veneziani e l’amministrazione della giustizia in Terraferma, in Pax Tibi Marce Venice: government, law, jurisprudence – Venezia: istituzioni, diritto, giurisprudenza, Silvia Gasparini (Ed.), online at , pp. 1-5
  • Claudia Passarella, Edoardo Deodati (1821 – 1896), in Avvocati che fecero l’Italia, Stefano Borsacchi – Gian Savino Pene Vidari (Eds.), Bologna, Il Mulino, 2011, pp. 322-328
  • Claudia Passarella, Leone Fortis (1814 – 1885), in Avvocati che fecero l’Italia, Stefano Borsacchi – Gian Savino Pene Vidari (Eds.), Bologna, Il Mulino, 2011, pp. 315-322

Dr. Passarella will visit Dublin in Autumn 2018. Her current research project focuses on lay participation in Italian criminal justice in the late modern age by adopting a comparative approach. Whilst in Ireland, she will be examining the Irish system of jury trials in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Details of the Irish Legal History Society’s bursary schemes can be found here.

Posthumous Pardon for Myles Joyce

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.

Travel Bursaries

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.

Law and Religion in Ireland 1530-1970

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.

The use of Irish law in medieval Norway

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.

The VV Giri Lecture 2018

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).

Art Exhibition

‘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 for more details about the project.