Kennedy, Eileen (1914–83), district justice, was born 30 May 1914 in Dublin, daughter of Patrick Kennedy, solicitor, and Delia Kennedy (née Blood). Educated at St Louis convent, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, where her father had established a legal practice, she qualified as a nurse in 1935, having trained in St Vincent's hospital, Dublin, and served in the army nursing service from 1940 to 1943, when she left to study law. Qualifying as a solicitor in 1947, she joined her father's practice, P. J. Kennedy & Son, Carrickmacross, and served as coroner for south Monaghan from 1960 to 1964. In April 1964 she became the first woman district justice in the Republic of Ireland, when she was assigned to the Dublin metropolitan district. Given particular responsibility for the children's court, to which she was attached permanently from 1967, her appointment was in line with a new Department of Justice policy for dealing with young offenders, which had also resulted in the appointment of a number of female liaison officers.
She was appointed chairman of a committee established (1967) by the minister for education, Donogh O'Malley (qv), to examine the reformatory and industrial schools system; its report (1970) was highly critical of the system then in operation, and was instrumental in responsibility for childcare being moved from the Department of Education to the Department of Health, and in the replacement of industrial and reformatory schools with foster care and residential homes. The Kennedy report, unpopular with the Department of Education and the Roman Catholic clergy, also called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 7 to 12 and for the introduction of a new children's act, measures that were not acted on, and for which Eileen Kennedy continued to campaign until her death. From 1970 to 1972 she was also a member of the first commission on the status of women, the report of which resulted in significant improvements in the legal status of Irish women.
The victim of an assault in Dublin in February 1983, she was forced to rest for five months, but soon after returning to work suffered a heart attack and died 11 October 1983 in Galway, having donated her body to medical science; she never married. As a solicitor she lived in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan; in Dublin her principal residence was 55 Lansdowne Road.