King's Inns
The Honorable Society of King's Inns (HSKI), is the institution which controls the entry of barristers-at-law
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 into the justice system
Courts of the Republic of Ireland
The Courts of the Republic of Ireland consist of the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal, the High Court, the Circuit Court and the District Court. The courts apply the laws of Ireland. Ireland is a common law jurisdiction and trials for serious offences must usually be held before a jury...

 of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. The full title retains the historical spelling variant "honorable" in preference to the contemporary Irish/British "honourable" (see article 'spelling differences').


The society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 was created in 1541, this being 51 years before Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin , formally known as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, was founded in 1592 by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I as the "mother of a university", Extracts from Letters Patent of Elizabeth I, 1592: "...we...found and...

, was founded, making it one of Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

's oldest professional and educational institutions. The founders named their society in honour of King Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 and his newly-established Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

, and secured a lease of lands at Inns Quay on the north bank of the Liffey. The society was reconstituted in 1607, having been inactive for some time. In 1790 the Inns Quays site was acquired for the purposes of the Four Courts
Four Courts
The Four Courts in Dublin is the Republic of Ireland's main courts building. The Four Courts are the location of the Supreme Court, the High Court and the Dublin Circuit Court. The building until 2010 also formerly was the location for the Central Criminal Court.-Gandon's Building:Work based on...

; the foundation stone at the present building at the top of Henrietta Street was laid on 1 August 1800, with James Gandon
James Gandon
James Gandon is today recognised as one of the leading architects to have worked in Ireland in the late 18th century and early 19th century. His better known works include The Custom House, the Four Courts, King's Inns in Dublin and Emo Court in Co...

 being commissioned as the architect. The building was completed by his pupil Henry Aaron Baker.

Academic Life

From almost the moment that King's Inns was founded, London required Irishmen who wished to practice as barristers to attend the inns of court in London, and that requirement stayed in place until the late nineteenth century. Only from the middle of the eighteenth century onwards were courses of legal education provided at King's Inns. Candidates who have an approved law degree may apply for the Degree of Barrister-at-Law . Alternatively, candidates without an approved law degree may undertake the society's Diploma in Legal Studies before presenting for the society's degree. Those who are presented with the degree are entitled to be called to and practise at the "Bar
Bar (law)
Bar in a legal context has three possible meanings: the division of a courtroom between its working and public areas; the process of qualifying to practice law; and the legal profession.-Courtroom division:...

 of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

". In 2006, the society had an enrolment of approximately 300 students, whilst there are approximately 2,000 practising barristers.


The society has generally kept a low profile in current affairs in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, though it did come to prominence in 1972, when financial difficulties led to the society selling a considerable stock of non-legal books it had in its library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

. The library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

 collection dates from the end of the 18th century, (when the society also adopted its motto 'Nolumus mutari'), and was based on part of that of Mr Justice Robinson. Books were sold at auction at Sotheby's
Sotheby's is the world's fourth oldest auction house in continuous operation.-History:The oldest auction house in operation is the Stockholms Auktionsverk founded in 1674, the second oldest is Göteborgs Auktionsverk founded in 1681 and third oldest being founded in 1731, all Swedish...

, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, and a considerable stock of them were sold to clients outside Ireland. This was seen at the time as a major cultural outflow, as many of the books were of historical and cultural significance. In addition, the society's library had received an annual grant since 1945 for the upkeep of the books from the Irish Exchequer.
A King's Inns team or individual has often won the prestigious Irish Times National Debating Championship
Irish Times National Debating Championship
The Irish Times National Debating Championship is a debating competition for students in higher education in Ireland. It has been run since 1960, sponsored by The Irish Times...

, and in 2010 won the European Universities Debating Championships
European Universities Debating Championship
The European Universities Debating Championship is an annual debating tournament for teams from universities in Europe. The competition uses the British Parliamentary Debate format .The championships as they are known today were first held in Rotterdam, Netherlands at Erasmus University from 8–11...

. In 2006 the Inns' hurling
Hurling is an outdoor team game of ancient Gaelic origin, administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association, and played with sticks called hurleys and a ball called a sliotar. Hurling is the national game of Ireland. The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for at least 3,000 years, and...

 team competed in and won the Fergal Maher Cup (3rd Level Division 3) in their inaugural year and have subsequently reached the final and semi-final.

After crossing Dorset Street, Henrietta Street runs into King's Inns Street. The latter was renamed due to its proximity to the King's Inns. In 1756, this street appears as "Turn Again Lane" on Rocque's map of Dublin. Henrietta Street is thought to have been named by Luke Gardiner in honour of Henrietta Somerset (1690-1726), who was married to the second duke of Grafton, lord lieutenant of Ireland, 1724-7. Her portrait by Enoch Seeman survives.

Analysis and criticism of King’s Inns

In 1990, the Irish Government
Irish Government
The Government of Ireland is the cabinet that exercises executive authority in Ireland.-Members of the Government:Membership of the Government is regulated fundamentally by the Constitution of Ireland. The Government is headed by a prime minister called the Taoiseach...

's Fair Trade Commission, which had spent the previous four years examining the legal profession in Ireland, presented its report on the legal professions to the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

The Commission said that it had "been impressed by the substantial volume of criticism of the BL degree course offered by King's Inns, and the unfavourable criticism of the education for barristers compared to that provided for solicitors". It also said that "[t]here seems no educational merit or collegiate benefit from the requirement to attend commons on 20 occasions, since the students are segregated from practising barristers and the judiciary, though alternative arrangements might commend themselves and not require the element of compulsion."

The Commission also found that the supposed disciplinary powers of the King's Inns, which have never been tested before an Irish court, would be unlikely to withstand scrutiny under the Constitution in light of the findings of the Supreme Court in the case of Re Solicitors Act, 1954. It said "[i]t seems to the Commission that, were the exercise of these powers ever to be challenged, it would be consistent with the judgment of the Supreme Court regarding the exercise of powers by the Law Society that it would be contrary to the Constitution for either the Bar Council of Ireland
Bar council
A bar council , in a Commonwealth country and in the Republic of Ireland, the Bar Council of Ireland is a professional body that regulates the profession of barristers together with the King's Inns. Solicitors are generally regulated by the Law society....

 or the Benchers of King's Inns to be entitled to disbar a barrister. The Commission considers that disbarment of a barrister should, therefore, be a matter for the Courts. While this power might be given to the High Court, as with solicitors, it might be necessary for it to be exercised by the Supreme Court, since the barrister is called to the Bar by the Chief Justice of Ireland
Chief Justice
The Chief Justice in many countries is the name for the presiding member of a Supreme Court in Commonwealth or other countries with an Anglo-Saxon justice system based on English common law, such as the Supreme Court of Canada, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the Court of Final Appeal of...

, while a solicitor is admitted by the President of the High Court. In any case, the Commission recommends that the power to disbar or suspend a barrister should not be exercised by the Bar Council or by the Benchers of King's Inns."

The Commission concluded: "At this stage, it seems appropriate that the Commission should express its surprise at the involvement of the judiciary with the barrister's profession through the institution of King's Inns... There seems no sound reason for any aspect of the profession of barrister to be influenced by the direct participation of the judiciary. Barristers are subject to the authority of judges in their courts, judges can complain to the Bar Council about the behaviour of barristers, and no further involvement would appear to be warranted... If King's Inns were to retain any disciplinary function, however, we consider that the judiciary should play no part in that function, and that a lay presence might be introduced. Furthermore, the Commission considers that the association of the judiciary with the King's Inns might be carefully re-examined in the light of the remaining functions of King's Inns after account has been taken of our recommendations in the field of discipline and other matters."

Notable alumni and academics

  • Theobald Wolfe Tone
    Theobald Wolfe Tone
    Theobald Wolfe Tone or Wolfe Tone , was a leading Irish revolutionary figure and one of the founding members of the United Irishmen and is regarded as the father of Irish Republicanism. He was captured by British forces at Lough Swilly in Donegal and taken prisoner...

  • Daniel O'Connell
    Daniel O'Connell
    Daniel O'Connell Daniel O'Connell Daniel O'Connell (6 August 1775 – 15 May 1847; often referred to as The Liberator, or The Emancipator, was an Irish political leader in the first half of the 19th century...

  • Edward Carson
  • Patrick Pearse
    Patrick Pearse
    Patrick Henry Pearse was an Irish teacher, barrister, poet, writer, nationalist and political activist who was one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916...

  • John A. Costello
    John A. Costello
    John Aloysius Costello , a successful barrister, was one of the main legal advisors to the government of the Irish Free State after independence, Attorney General of Ireland from 1926–1932 and Taoiseach from 1948–1951 and 1954–1957....

  • Liam Cosgrave
    Liam Cosgrave
    Liam Cosgrave is an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as Taoiseach and as Leader of Fine Gael . He was a Teachta Dála from 1943 to 1981....

  • Jack Lynch
    Jack Lynch
    John Mary "Jack" Lynch was the Taoiseach of Ireland, serving two terms in office; from 1966 to 1973 and 1977 to 1979....

  • Charles Haughey
    Charles Haughey
    Charles James "Charlie" Haughey was Taoiseach of Ireland, serving three terms in office . He was also the fourth leader of Fianna Fáil...

  • Henry Grattan
    Henry Grattan
    Henry Grattan was an Irish politician and member of the Irish House of Commons and a campaigner for legislative freedom for the Irish Parliament in the late 18th century. He opposed the Act of Union 1800 that merged the Kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain.-Early life:Grattan was born at...

  • Mick Walsh
    Mick Walsh
    Mick Walsh is a retired Irish sportsperson. He played hurling with his local club Slieverue and was a member of the Kilkenny senior inter-county team from 1957 until 1962. With Kilkenny Walsh won an All-Ireland title, three Leinster titles and a National Hurling League title.-References:...

  • Kevin McPartlan

External links

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