Our Legal Heritage

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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 offic

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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”, dete

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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. The men in the National Irish Land League were charged under the Coercion Acts, however the women of the Ladies Land League were not to be impr

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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. The only person to be prosecuted in relation to the murder

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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 S

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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.

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About three hours before the First Dáil Éireann sat in Mansion House at 3.30pm on the 21 January 1919, the first shots of the Irish War of Independence were fired. Irish Volunteers from the Third Tipperary Brigade had received intelligence before Christmas in 1918 that a large qu

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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 to

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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,

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This year marked the launch of our weekly Irish Legal Heritage feature, in which Seosamh Gráinséir looks at the people, events, laws and cases that have shaped Irish legal history. Here, we link back to all of this year's instalments. Irish Legal Heritage: The first Irish witch and her

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In November 1908, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Margaret Cousins, along with their husbands Francis and James, founded the Irish Women’s Franchise League (IWFL). The primary aim of the IWFL was for women to be afforded the right to vote on the same terms as men, and a particular aim was to guar

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The general election of December 1918 was the first time that women were able to exercise their right to vote in Britain and Ireland. Although the Representation of the People Act 1918 did not provide for equal voting rights – it was only female property owners over the age of 30 who were all

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Navigating the streets of Dublin in a wooden bowl fortified with iron, "Billy in the bowl", as he was so nicknamed, was born without legs and said to have been blessed with a handsome face. Using this to his advantage, Billy was "one of those curious beggars who frequented fairs and public places, w

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