Hugh Kennedy (11 July 1879 – 1 December 1936) was the only Attorney-General of Southern Ireland and the first Attorney-General of the Irish Free State, and later the first Chief Justice of the Irish Free State. As a member of the Irish Free State Constitution Commission, he was also one of the constitutional architects of the Irish Free State. He was also elected to the 4th Dáil.
Hugh Kennedy was born in Dublin in 1879. He studied for the examinations of the Royal University while a student at University College Dublin and King's Inns, Dublin, and was called to the Bar in 1902. He was appointed King's Counsel in 1920 and became a Bencher of King's Inns in 1922.
During 1920 and 1921, Hugh Kennedy was a senior legal adviser to the representatives of Dáil Éireann during the negotiations for the Anglo-Irish Treaty.
On 31 January 1922, Hugh Kennedy became the only Attorney-General of the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland.
In 1922, he was appointed by the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland to the Irish Free State Constitution Commission to draft the constitution of the Irish Free State. It prepared a draft constitution. He was thus one of the constitutional architects of the Irish Free State.
The Irish Free State was established on 6 December 1922, and the former Provisional Government of Southern Ireland ceased to exist, its functions being transferred to the newly created Executive Council (Government) of the Irish Free State.
On 7 December 1922, he was appointed by the Governor-General as the first Attorney-General of the Irish Free State. A photograph from this period appears at.
In 1923, he was appointed to the Judiciary Commission by the Government of the Irish Free State, on a reference from the Government to establish a new system for the administration of justice in accordance with the Constitution of the Irish Free State. The Judiciary Commission was chaired by the last Lord Chief Justice of Ireland (who had also been the last Lord Chancellor of Ireland). It drafted legislation for a new system of courts, including a High Court and a Supreme Court, and provided for the abolition, inter alia, of the Irish Court of Appeal and the Irish High Court of Justice. Most of the judges were not reappointed to the new courts.
He was also a delegate of the Irish Free State to the Fourth Assembly of the League of Nations between 3–29 September 1923.
He was elected to Dáil Éireann on 27 October 1923 as a Cumann na nGaedhael TD at the by-election for the Dublin South constituency. He was the first person to be elected in a by-election to Dáil Éireann. He resigned his seat when he was appointed Chief Justice.
On 5 June 1924, he was appointed Chief Justice, thereby becoming the first Chief Justice of the Irish Free State. Although the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal had been abolished and replaced by the High Court and the Supreme Court respectively, one of his first acts was to issue a practice note that the wearing of wigs and robes would continue in the new courts. This practice is still continued in trials and appeals in the High Court and the Supreme Court (except in certain matters). He held the position of Chief Justice until his death on 12 December 1936.