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. We are proud to partner with Queen’s University Belfast to host the British Legal History Conference 2022.
The WN Osborough Composition Prize in for 2022 will be awarded to Dr Ben Hazard for his essay on 'Thomas Wadding, Waterford landowner and lawyer of Gray’s Inn, 1562–1613'.
The prize will be awarded at our AGM later this year.
The WN Osborough Composition Prize in Legal History aims to promote high-quality scholarship on Irish Legal History.
Those wishing to enter works for consideration for the prize can consult the criteria here.
The Irish Legal History Society is proud to announce that Dr Eamon Phoenix will deliver the Spring Discourse for 2022.
Dr Phoenix will address the career of Sir Denis Henry (1864-1925): Barrister, Catholic Unionist Politician & First Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland
The address will take place at 6pm on Friday 11 March 2022. It will be held 'in person' at Clifton House, Belfast.
Members and non-members are most welcome, but registration is essential. Register by click on this link
The Spring 2022 Discourse was given by Dr Eamon Phoenix. He gave a fascinating lecture on Sir Denis Henry, the first Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland. On behalf of the society, Dr David Capper gave thanks to Dr Phoenix.
The spring meeting of the Irish Legal History Society (ILHS) was held in Clifton House, Belfast, on 11 March. Clifton House is the home of the Belfast Charitable Society (founded 1752). To mark the occasion, ILHS Council member Felix Larkin presented a copy of the official history of Dublin’s Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers Society to Sir Ronnie Weatherup, President of the Belfast Charitable Society. Felix is a former chair of the Roomkeepers Society (founded 1790). In return, Sir Ronnie presented Felix with a copy of the official history of the Belfast Charitable Society. The two societies are the oldest charities in Belfast and Dublin respectively. This photo shows Sir Ronnie Weatherup (left) and Felix Larkin (right) with John Gordon, ILHS President.
Prof James McGuire, MRIA, former president of the society, was conferred with an honorary doctorate by the University of Dublin for his outstanding contribution to the discipline.
The Right Hon Sir Declan Morgan, member and former patron of the society, gave a lecture on the history of the Lord Chief Justices in Belfast on 8 December 2021.
O'Brien avoided party politics, but was a moderate home ruler who attributed the troubles besetting relations between Britain and Ireland to a failure to implement moderate reforms in time. After being created Baron Shandon on his removal as lord chancellor, he moved to England, where as a member of the House of Lords he was involved in various peace initiatives.
His reminiscences of and reflections on the relatively self-contained world of mid-Victorian Cork, of student and journalistic work and play in Land War Dublin, of the struggles of an aspiring barrister on circuit and of the declining years of Dublin Castle, provide new insights into Irish life in the closing decades of the union. He also gives his impressions of prominent contemporaries, including Charles Stewart Parnell, Edward Carson and Lord Chief Justice Peter O’Brien (“Peter the Packer”).
The publication, part of the Irish Legal History Society series, of this important memoir is accompanied by detailed notes and commentaries on its legal and political context by Daire Hogan and Patrick Maume.
Daire Hogan is a solicitor and former president of the Irish Legal History Society. Patrick Maume is a researcher with the Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of Irish Biography, who has published extensively on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Irish history.
The Irish Legal Society is open to all those with an interest in legal history of Ireland - membership details can be found here.
All members receive a copy of each volume as it is published and are invited to partake in all ILHS events.
To date, the society has published thirty-one volumes. A full list of the publications of the society can be found here.
Professor Patrick Geoghegan will deliver his presidential discourse:
‘Investigating Jack the Ripper, Parnellism, and Other Crimes: Sir Robert Anderson and the Writing of History’
6 00 PM FRIDAY 26 NOVEMBER 2021 (please log on from 05.45PM)
Please join the zoom meeting, which is open to non-members, at
Meeting ID: 910 8143 1731 Passcode: 261121
STUDENT ESSAY COMPETITION
Undergraduates and postgraduates are invited to submit essays on any period of Irish legal history to compete for the inaugural Irish Legal History Society Student Essay Competition.
Founded in 1988, the Society examines, explores and engages with all issues relating to legal history on the island of Ireland, from earliest times to the present day, including the work of Irish lawyers abroad. Its mission is to encourage the study and advance the knowledge of the history of Irish law. To further this work and to recognise and reward the work of students during the ‘Decade of Centenaries’, the Society is holding a student essay competition for works in the field of Irish legal history broadly conceived.
Prize: The winning entrant will receive a prize of €250.
Eligibility: The competition is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Essays must be written in English and be the work of students who are enrolled in a third level institution in Ireland or abroad, or within one year expiration of that enrollment.
Essay/Submission Details: Essays must be no longer than 5,000 words (including all references). All entries must use an accepted referencing style (such as APA, Harvard, Oscola), be typed, double-spaced, and include an abstract of approximately 100 words. Entries should be submitted, in Word or PDF format, via email by the student or their lecturer/professor (including the student in the email submission). In the email, please include: name, institutional affiliation, degree programme (please specify if undergraduate or postgraduate), and enrollment particulars.
Judging: Entries will be judged by the essay competition committee, assessed according to level and judged on the criteria:
1) relevance of content to Irish legal history;
2) makes a contribution to the knowledge base;
3) clarity of organisation and argument;
4) use of the literature, and
5) writing style/quality.
Deadline: Essays should be received no later than 31st May 2022.
Results: Results will be announced no later than 31st July 2022.
Please email essay submissions to:
Dr Lynsey Black, Department of Law, Maynooth University – email@example.com
To honour the life and legacy of the distinguished judge and legal historian (and a former President of the Society), Sir Anthony Hart, the Benchers of the Inn of Court in Northern Ireland have organised an annual memorial lecture.
The inaugural Sir Anthony Hart Memorial Lecture will take place on Thursday 11 November 2021 at 18.15 in the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland. The lecture will be given by Justice of the United Kingdom Supreme Court, The Right Honourable Lord Stephens of Creevyloughgare on ‘1798: a tale of two barristers’.
Lord Stephens was one of Sir Anthony’s pupils at the Bar.
Numbers are unfortunately restricted, but you are invited to watch online.
To register, and receive login details, please email Lisa Mayes at Lisa.Mayes@barofni.org
LAW AND CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE
Queen’s University, Belfast
6-9 July 2022
The 25th British Legal History Conference 2022 In association with the Irish Legal History Society Queen’s University, Belfast 6-9 July 2022
The closing date for submission of abstracts has been extended until Monday 27 September
The Call For Papers and all other conference information can be found here.
The Irish Legal History Society is pleased to announce that the Postdoctoral Bursary for 2021 has been awarded to Dr Lia Brazil of Nuffield College, Oxford.
Dr Brazil is a postdoctoral fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, as part of the AHRC funded project ‘International NGOs in the Long Humanitarian Century’ (2021 – 2024). She completed her BA at Trinity College Dublin, her MA in European History at UCD, and her PhD in History at the European University Institute, Florence. Her PhD research looked at the history of international law in the British Empire, focusing on the South African War (1899 – 1902) and the Irish struggle for independence (1916 – 1923).
Her current research project looks at efforts made by the republican faction during the Irish civil war to appeal for international humanitarian intervention on behalf of interned prisoners. In particular it concentrates on delegations of Irish women, who travelled to Geneva to petition on behalf of these prisoners under international humanitarian law. She will use the research grant to explore the legal appeals they made to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
John L Leckey
The Society deeply regrets to note the death of John L Leckey on 5 August 2021. He served as Joint Honorary Treasurer of the Society, based in Belfast, from 1993 to 2000.
John was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in Northern Ireland in 1974 and was appointed HM Coroner for Greater Belfast in 1993. He subsequently served as Senior Coroner for Northern Ireland until his retirement in 2015. He presided over a number of a number of difficult inquests, always with his innate courtesy.
John was an author together with Professor Desmond Greer QC (hon.), of Coroners' Law and Practice in Northern Ireland which deals with the law and practice relating to coroners in Northern Ireland with appropriate reference to developments in Ireland.
The Society extends its condolences to John’s wife Janet and their sons Simon and Peter.
His obituary in The Irish Times can be read here.