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Centenary Anniversary of 1st Women Called to the Bar in Ireland – Frances Kyle and Averil Deverell.

Photos: Frances Kyle (top), Averil Deverall (bottom), Irish Independent, 2 November 1921 (right).

* Irish Independent, 2 November 1921 (with thanks to Renate Ní Uigin, the Honorable Society of the King’s Inns, Dublin).

On Tuesday, 1st November 1921, Frances Kyle and Averil Deverell, graduates of the Law School, Trinity College Dublin, became the first women called to the Bar in Ireland.

A resolution of the King’s Inns Benchers of January 1920 had provided ‘that women shall be admitted on precisely the same terms as men.’ Both Frances Kyle and Averil Deverell became the first two women to be admitted and were called to the Bar alongside 18 men. The call of the two women barristers made headlines at the time, not only in Ireland but it was also picked up in the London Times, the New York Times, the suffragists’ journal The Vote, and even reached the Times of India.

Frances Kyle

Frances Kyle had the honor of becoming the first women called to the Irish Bar, and also the first women to take first place in the Bar finals receiving the John Brookes Scholarship in October 1921. She practiced law briefly before returning to her family home in Belfast.
Averil Deverell

Averil Deverell was the first woman to practise at the Bar in Ireland. She was amongst the first group of women to obtain a Law degree from Trinity College Dublin (1915). She had a colourful and interesting career prior to commencing her legal practice – having served as with ambulance corps during World War. She developed a reputation while in practice of being a campaigner on behalf of her women colleagues; when the women's dressing room in the Law Library was changed in the 1930s, she organised the women to get their room back, and when the words 'Lady Barristers' were written on the door of the room, she insisted on their replacement with the words 'Women Barristers.'

She died in 1979 leaving a bequest setting up a lectureship in the Law School of Trinity College. The first to hold the position of the Averil Deverell Lecturer in Law was The Hon. Fidelma Macken SC. It is perhaps fitting that the first recipient of this post, also a Trinity College alum, was a pioneer herself, having the honor of being the first women judge appointed to the European Court of Justice.
Patricia Brazil

The current Averil Deverell Lecturer in Law is Dr Patricia Brazil BL. Dr Brazil graduated from Trinity College Dublin with an LL.B. degree. She lectures and practises in asylum and immigration law, family and child law.

Patricia Brazil is pictured with a portrait of Averil Deverell, located in the Honorable Society of the King’s Inns, Dublin.

More information on Averil Deverell can be found here