Adomnán’s Law of the Innocents, Birr 687 AD: the laws of war

Lecture by Dr Jim Houlihan

Friday 26th April 2024 at 8.00pm

Sligo Education Centre (on the ATU campus)

Non-members of Sligo Field Club: €5

Dr Houlihan will explore the the making of the Irish Law of the Innocents that sought to protect women, children, clerics and other non-arms-bearing people in periods of conflict, people usually referred to in contemporary language as non-combatants. He will examine the society from which the law emerged and the inspirational figure in the drafting of  the law, the abbot of Iona, Adomnán. He will trace how the law evolved and how it was perceived in the following centuries until the final eclipse of the old Gaelic order in Ireland in the seventeenth century.

Recent events in Ukraine and Gaza have given this law a grim relevance for all of us.



Dr James W. Houlihan is a retired solicitor living in Birr, County Offaly. Ireland. He practiced in the Irish midlands for forty-five years including thirty as State Solicitor for County Offaly. On his retirement he completed a MA and a PhD in University College Dublin. His book, based on his PhD thesis, entitled Adomnán’s Lex Innocentium and the laws of war was published by Four Courts Press, Dublin in 2020.