Irish Legal Heritage

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

Irish Legal Heritage: Pat Finucane

Human rights lawyer Pat Finucane was murdered in his home in North Belfast on 12 February 1989. Pat was shot 14 times and his wife, Geraldine, was injured in the shooting, which was witnessed by their children as they hid underneath a table.

Published 15 February 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: Éamon de Valera’s escape from prison

Éamon de Valera was born in New York on 14 October 1882 to Catherine Coll and Juan Vivion de Valera. Juan Vivion died when Éamon was two-years-old, and so Éamon was taken home to live in his mother’s native Limerick with his uncle (TP Coogan, De Valera: Long Fellow, Long Shadow).

Published 8 February 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: Mamie Cadden

On 1 February, the Feast of Saint Brigid of Kildare is celebrated as the day of new beginnings, the beginning of spring, and stories are told of the many miracles attributed to the second patron saint of Ireland.

Published 4 February 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: The First Dáil

After the Easter Rising, many of the volunteers focused on political activity rather than another rebellion. At Sinn Féin’s Ard Fheis on 25 and 26 October 1917, Arthur Griffith pledged: “we are remaking this organisation of Sinn Féin for the real purpose and object towards it will work” – the setting up of a constituent Assembly of Ireland to meet in Dublin.

Published 18 January 2019

Irish Legal Heritage: Domestic Violence and Westropp's Divorce Bill 1886

The commencement of the Domestic Violence Act 2018 brings significant changes to Ireland’s law on domestic violence, including the introduction of offences under the heading of coercive control, the court’s express consideration of the victim’s psychological and emotional welfare, and extension of the eligibility of Safety and Protection Orders to all partners in an intimate relationship.

Published 11 January 2019