e’ve celebrated the incredible Greystones resident Averil Deverellbefore, but Kate Tyrell is, shamefully, new to us…
Luckily, both trailblazers are being celebrated this month with Wicklow’s Wonder Women.
Kate Tyrell. Source John Mahon
Averil Deverell (1893-1979) was the first Irish woman barrister called to the Bar, back in 1921, whilst Kate Tyrell (1863-1921) was the first woman ship’s sea captain in Ireland.
Both of these remarkable women, as the programme curator Liz Kelly says, smashed the glass ceiling to rewrite the gener rulebooks for their professions.
There will be a series of events – including a Herstory light show at The Cove on and a discussion at The Whale – but first, a little history…
Kate Tyrell It was forbidden for women to captain a ship but that didn’t stop Kate Tyrell from registering her captaincy in the name of a man in order to sail. Tyrrell spent most of her time captaining the Denbighshire Lass from her base in Arklow, becoming adept at navigation and passionate about all aspects of sailing.
The Denbighshire Lass
She had a reputation for being a stern enforcer of order on board her ship, intolerant of any drunken crew members on duty. The Denbighshire Lass continued to sail throughout World War I, navigating landmines in the Irish Sea without incident, despite having no insurance. Kate’s was the first ship to fly the new Irish tricolour flag at a foreign port.
Averil Deverell Averil Deverell was involved in Irish Law at the foundation of the judiciary and court structures in Ireland. Graduating with a law degree from Trinity College Dublin in 1915, in the middle of World War I, she served as a VAD Nursing Sister at Trinity and in her home town of Greystones, Co. Wicklow. Eventually, after clocking hundreds of hours of service in Ireland, she persuaded the authorities to allow her into France as an ambulance driver. In 1918, Averil served in France and Flanders with the French Red Cross, returning home to a community devastated by loss. Well aware that the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 was heading for the statute book, she opted to train as a barrister and entered the King’s Inns, Dublin in January 1919. In November 1921, Averil was duly called to the Bar in Dublin with Frances Christian Kyle from Belfast, the first two women to be admitted. Frances returned to Belfast, Ireland was partitioned and Averil entered the closed, male, confines of the Law Library at the Four Courts in January 1922, becoming the first practicing woman barrister in Ireland.
It was actually November 1st, 1921 that Deverell was called to the Bar – so, happy 100th anniversary, kiddo. Jumping back, you can find out more about her remarkable life in our Rosemary Raughter piece here, and the 2019 Our Wicklow Women launch in Greystones Library here.
Now, here are the upcoming events. So far.
Herstory Light Show at The Cove Friday 5th November 5pm–10pm On 5th November at 5pm a spectacular Herstory Light Show by Dodeca will see The Cove in Greystones illuminate with newly commissioned portraits of the local legends by artist Lauren O’ Neill. The heroines will be in lights again at 8.30 pm in Arklow Harbour, where Kate Tyrell navigated her ship ‘The Denbeighshire Lass’ across the Irish Sea. Throughout the weekend, look out for our especially commissioned portraits of both Averil Deverell and Kate Tyrell on billboards in Arklow and Greystones.
“Women’s achievements and struggles have been lost in the shadows for too long, resulting in global inequality and a regression of women’s rights. That’s why Herstory is harnessing the alchemical power of light, to celebrate women and equality, spotlight inequality, and create visions for a World of Equals,” explains Melanie Lynch, Founder of Herstory.
Candlelit Tales present a Brehon Law Court workshop at Greystones Library (Sat 6th 2pm), exploring contemporary society’s approach to wrongdoing and lawbreaking…
On Saturday 6th November from 2pm – 5pm, master storytellers CandleLit Tales will host a Brehon Law Court workshop in the Greystones library. This experiential event will explore contemporary society’s approach to wrongdoing, lawbreaking, and harm to individuals and community. For centuries, Ireland operated without prisons or police, tackling legal issues through the Brehon law – a complex and fascinating legal code that focused on restorative rather than punitive justice. In this workshop, participants will test out the Brehon law by holding their own trial. They will experience the similarities and differences of this approach to our modern legal system, and will have a chance to explore a completely different approach to crime and punishment. They will be guided through some of the principles and processes of Brehon Law and will explore concepts of fair play, justice, and legality through a mock-trial. Participants will experience the concept of restorative justice in the context of a real legal code that held sway on this island for thousands of years. A free event, you can book here.
The Breaking Ground Salon, Saturday 6th November at 8pm at the Whale Theatre. On Saturday 6th November at 8.00p.m, we celebrate Wicklow’s Wonder Women with The Breaking Ground: Wicklow’s Pioneering Women Salon which takes place at the Whale Theatre in Greystones. This collaboration with Herstory will interweave lively conversation with performances by visionary local poets and musicians.
Liz Goldthorpe & Rosemary Raughter
Poets Jane Clarke and Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill will read new poems inspired by the Wicklow trailblazers, alongside cellist Lioba Petrie and soprano Catherine Redding.
Hosted by journalist and broadcaster Dearbhail McDonald; speakers include historian and retired judge Liz Goldthorpe, Chair of the Bar Council Maura McNally, and lawyer and chair of AkiDwA Ashimedua Okonkwo. Together they will discuss Averil Deverell’s contribution to the law and share stories from their own career history. Also in conversation about women and our connection to the sea will be renowned Irish surfer, marine social scientist, and artist Dr Easkey Britton and Dr. Karen Weekes, who is training to become the first Irish woman to row solo across the Atlantic.
There will be more events organised. In the meanwhile, tickets for The Whale night are ight about here.
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