First women called to the Bar of Ireland to be commemorated

First women called to the Bar of Ireland to be commemorated

A number of initiatives have been put in place to mark the centenary of the first Irish women to be called to the Bar of Ireland.

When Frances Kyle and Averil Deverell were admitted to the barristers’ representative body on November 1st, 1921, it made news in Ireland, the UK, the US and India.

They were the first two women to be called to the bar in either Britain or Ireland, which at the time were both part of the United Kingdom. Ms Deverell was the first woman to practise as a barrister on either island.

In order to mark the occasion, the Bar of Ireland has commissioned the restoration of Ms Deverell’s grave in her native Greystones, Co Wicklow, and opened a public installation at the Bar of Ireland’s premises on Church Street, Dublin.

It has also published a commemorative Bar Review Edition, and launched a campaign to improve the visual representation of female role models, through the commissioning of a portrait of Ms Deverell, which will hang at the Honourable Society of Kings Inns.

“Following Deverell’s 40-year career and at the time of her passing in 1979, women still represented only 10 per cent of the Bar,” said Bar Council chairwoman Maura McNally SC.

“While progress has been made, this centenary reminds us and prompts us that there is more work to be done in achieving more gender balance in the legal profession.”

Currently 37 per cent of the Bar are female, though only 17 per cent of all senior counsel. Women constituted 44 per cent of all new entrants to the profession this year.

Ms Deverell was the first woman to appear before the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeal, and the first Irish woman to appear before the Privy Council in London.

Ms Kyle, who was from Belfast, practiced on the circuit in Northern Ireland. She died in 1958.

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