From as Far Back as I Can Remember by Aifric O’Byrne BL, Class of 2013–2014
From as far back as I can remember, I had always wanted to become a barrister. I grew up in admiration of my Grandmother, who qualified from King’s Inns in 1943; one of the first female barristers of the era. After finishing my BCL in UCD in 2011, I travelled for a year before studying Human Rights in Budapest. After graduating with a Masters Degree in 2013, I decided that the time was right to come back to Ireland, and take the King’s Inns entrance exams.
I remember one afternoon just after learning that I passed the entrance exams, I sat down with my grandmother to talk about what the future in King’s Inns might hold. She told me her memories – how there were only two or three women in her year. How there was no female bathroom available for them at the time. How one of her female classmates, appalled at the mismatched dress code that her fellow female trainee barristers were sporting on a daily basis, designed a pink uniform to be worn by the women, to give an impression of consistency and style. Our conversation turned towards my future. I mentioned to my grandmother that I was hoping to apply for the McCarthy Bursary. She had warm memories of Judge Niall McCarthy as one of the human rights champions of the Court. My future in King’s Inns, and my grandmother’s experience some 70 years previously overlapped a number of times over the following year.
I had the great honour of being awarded the McCarthy Bursary last year, despite some very worthy applicants. I took the opportunity that was granted to me by virtue of the Bursary, by getting involved in the various opportunities that King’s Inns offered. At times, the workload was challenging and sometimes my team mates and I questioned the extra efforts that our participation entailed. However, without any doubts in my mind, getting involved in the different activities were some of the best decision that I could have made last year.
I left King’s Inns with far more than my Bar qualification. I was given the opportunity to meet and work with some of the sharpest minds that I have ever met, I travelled to South Korea and to Strasbourg by virtue of King’s Inns, and I developed a set of skills and knowledge far deeper than I expected. In the end, there are two things that stand out to me from my time last year. Firstly, you are joining the ranks of a large family, spanning back years in to great Irish history. King’s Inns bridges the path between barristers of the past, and of the future. There will always be someone willing to give you help and guidance, you just need to ask. Secondly, whatever you give to King’s Inns, it gives back to you in many more ways than you can imagine. Get involved, despite the extra work and longer hours. Every competition or extra–curricular activity gives you a deeper insight in your legal system, and to your own strengths and weaknesses. So enjoy your year, and with a bit of extra effort, it can become one of the best years of your life!
Aifric O’Byrne BL, Class of 2013–2014