Gráinne O’Neill Legal Essay Competition

The Law Society invites Transition Year (TY) students from across the country to enter this year’s Gráinne O’Neill Memorial Legal Essay Competition.

The competition calls for TY students to submit a 1,500-word digital essay on this year’s chosen topic by 1 December 2022.

This year’s essay title is: “The law and social media: striking a balance between freedom of expression and responsible usage.”

About Judge Gráinne O’Neill

The Gráinne O’Neill Memorial Legal Essay Competition honours the life and legacy of the late Judge Gráinne O’Neill. In 2014, Gráinne became the youngest judge in Ireland to be appointed. Gráinne died in 2018 following a period of illness but, during her life and especially during her years as a judge, Gráinne worked diligently to apply the law in a fair, rigorous and compassionate manner.

In four short years, she left a rich legacy of strong, compassionate justice with a profound, empathetic regard for those struggling to make ends meet and to make good in life. Gráinne infused spaces and places with her joyful gratitude for life and desire to make a difference to people and their lives.

She reflected greatly on all matters to do with the law and on best ways to build a fair, just society. She was courageous, creative and deeply committed to doing good work and work of a high standard.

Competition history

The Gráinne O’Neill Memorial Legal Essay Competition was initiated by Judge Keenan Johnson, Judge of the Circuit Court, in collaboration with the Midland Solicitors’ Bar Association in 2019.

Following two successful years of engagement across Offaly and Westmeath, the Law Society is rolling out this competition at a national level and invites TY students from across the country to enter.

The Gráinne O’Neill Memorial Legal Essay Competition enables TY students to explore a chosen essay title in a way that will help them be creative and innovative in their thinking and writing.

2022 winners

Last year’s winners share their experiences of the project.



Read the 2022 winning entries:

Competition rules

  • All essays must be submitted in by Thursday 1 December 2022.
  • Essays must be a maximum of 1,500 and must be submitted digitally. 
  • Essays may be submitted in either English or Irish. 
  • A national event final will take place at the Law Society of Ireland, Blackhall Place in March 2023.  
  • For more information on how Transition Year students and schools can enter, please see: Essay Competition or email