We use cookies to collect and analyse information on site performance and usage to improve and customise your experience, where applicable. Click OK to use our website.

Burren Law School to make way for a ‘fresh iteration’

19 Mar 2019 / Ireland Print

Burren Law School to make way for a ‘fresh iteration’

The Burren Law School is bowing out this May bank holiday weekend after a very successful 25-year-run.

Chief Justice Frank Clarke (pictured) is this year's keynote speaker.

We are retiring gracefully says Mary Hawkes-Greene, who together with her late husband Michael Greene, and Brian Sheridan, now a District Court judge, founded the Ballyvaughan school in 1994.

The rationale for the BLS came from the fact that Burren College of Art is located at the site of Newtown Castle. Close by is the site of the O'Davoren Law School, one of three Brehon law schools situated in the Burren.

Here between the years 1563 and 1569, Domhnall O'Davoren and his pupils compiled the manuscript now known as Egerton 88, containing an invaluable glossary of Brehon law and a variety of law texts, one dating back to the eighth century.

The Burren Law School aimed to recreate the tradition of legal learning associated with the Brehon Law schools, allowing the past to illuminate the present and inform contemporary issues.

The motivation behind the Burren Law School was to draw attention to the wisdom of the Brehon laws. The founders thought not enough was known in legal circles about the Brehon Law and their core wisdom.

Every Burren Law School since 1994 had a Brehon Law expert in attendance to bring a Brehon perspective to discussion and debate.


“It has been very vibrant and very provocative,” says Mary.

"The concept of coming out west and away from normal lives was really important and helped to open up perspectives.

“But I do feel that at this point that type of gathering is giving way towards more conversations and less of a traditional model," she says.

People forgot about their titles when they came to the Burren Law School, says Mary. Conversations happened between Supreme Court justices, locals from the village, journalists and lawyers.

“The greatest value of the Burren Law School has been the exchange of views between different professionals and ranks from both within and outside of the legal system, to come together and converse openly and frankly

Creative mind-set

“The model has always been to come away from one’s life to a different location, to meet different people, to converse and exchange ideas,” says Mary.

“We’ve always included people from the arts as the opener, to get those attending into a creative mind-set.”

But 25 years on, the time has come to reinvent the school, in a different manner.

“One mustn’t hold on to the same model all of the time,” Mary said.

“We have had a very loyal and dynamic group of people but it’s time for a fresh iteration. What we are doing is making space for a new model to emerge.


“The important elements are the Burren which really allows people to connect with nature, to engage with a very creative landscape that enables them to think creatively.

“These are the core elements of the Burren Law School and I’d like to see them continue.

“If it has come to a natural end then that’s fine, but if there’s a new formulation that emerges, that will be great also.

“The fact that the Burren Law School happens in an art school means that you have to make space for something new to emerge,” Mary concludes.

See past Burren Law School pictures on home page gallery


Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland