Irish Legal Heritage



Irish Legal Heritage: A bigamist’s mixed-marriage declared null and void

On 15 August 1857, Maria Theresa Longworth and Major William Charles Yelverton got married in a Catholic Church near Rostrevor. They had previously married in Edinburgh on or about 13 April 1857 according to Scottish law; however, Theresa refused to cohabit with Major Yelverton until they were married according to her own Catholic religion.

Published 14 June 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: The couple facing execution

On 9 June 1976, Marie and Noel Murray were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

Published 7 June 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: The swindling judge removed from office

In 1830, Sir Jonah Barrington became the only High Court judge to be dismissed from office by the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Published 31 May 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: The hanging judge who ran out of rope

John Toler, the first Earl of Norbury, earned his reputation as “the hanging judge” during his time as a particularly callous judge in Ireland in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Published 24 May 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: Scold’s Bridle

The Scold’s Bridle or Branks was a form of punishment usually reserved for women who resisted subordination and didn’t conform to being a quiet and virtuous wife.

Published 10 May 2019

Scottish Legal Heritage: A scandalous divorce recalled

Our sister publication, Scottish Legal News, recalls a scandalous divorce case from just across the water.

Published 3 May 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: Norris v Ireland

On 22 April 1983, Senator David Norris lost an appeal to the Supreme Court. He sought a declaration that that sections 61 and 62 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, and section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, were inconsistent with the Constitution.

Published 26 April 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: Alice Milligan – 'she loved no other place but Ireland'

Alice Milligan was born in a village just outside Omagh in September 1866, one of thirteen children. Her parents were Methodists of modest means, and whose success in the Irish linen trade brought the family to Belfast in 1879. In Belfast, Alice was educated at Methodist College along with her surviving brothers and sisters, where she “demonstrated an amazing and versatile range of abilities by winning scholarships in mathematics, science, scripture, natural philosophy and music”, and where she “first began to publish poetry in the school magazine” (Catherine Morris, Alice Milligan and the Irish Cultural Revival (Four Courts Press 2012), 25).

Published 12 April 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: Major William Redmond

On 7 June 1917, William Hoey Kearney Redmond was killed in the attack on the Messines Ridge during the First World War, serving as a major in the Royal Irish Regiment of the British Army.

Published 5 April 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: Ireland’s Alcatraz

After several decades as a military fort, and a much earlier history of being a monastic settlement, Spike Island was converted into a prison in 1847.

Published 29 March 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: “The introduction of internment in Ireland… for 14-year-old girls”

In January 1992, a 14-year-old girl discovered that she was pregnant. The girl, now known as “X”, had been subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of her friend’s father since the age of 12, and when her parents were on a trip to Lourdes in August 1990, he raped her for the first time. (Ruadhán Mac Cormaic, The Supreme Court).

Published 22 March 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: Rosemary Nelson

Twenty years ago today, on Monday 15 March 1999, human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries. A bomb had been attached to the underneath of her car, and detonated when she pressed the brakes as she reached the bottom of the road from her home as she drove to her office in Lurgan.

Published 15 March 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: Maud Gonne and The Famine Queen

Having witnessed evictions in 1885 which she described as the “wholesale destruction of the little houses of the people”, Maud Gonne said this “changed the whole course” of her life, transforming her from a “carefree society girl into a woman of set purpose”, determined to free Ireland from the British Empire.

Published 8 March 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: The imprisonment of Ladies Land Leaguer Hannah Reynolds

On 23 December 1881, 21-year-old Hannah Reynolds was sentenced at the Petty Sessions court to 28 days in Cork gaol for her work with the Ladies Land League.

Published 1 March 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: The Civic Guard and An Garda Síochána

After the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed on 6 December 1921, the Provisional Government began the process of disbanding the Royal Irish Constabulary. In February 1922, Michael Collins began to recruit for the Civic Guard, which would later be named An Garda Síochána – “the guardian of the peace”.

Published 22 February 2019