SENIOR counsel Maire Whelan (above) made legal history last night following her appointment as the country's first ever female Attorney General.
And the country's women lawyers toasted the shattering of "another glass ceiling" after her appointment was confirmed.
Ms Whelan, who was the first person in her family to attend secondary school and university, takes over one of the most coveted legal roles in the State from Paul Gallagher.
The married mother of one, who specialises in child abduction, property, probate, conveyancing and trust law, is best known for her political role as former finance secretary of the Labour Party.
Colleagues of Ms Whelan, who recently co-authored a reference guide to the 2009 National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) Act, paid tribute to the lawyer on her appointment.
"This is historic, it is amazing," said barrister Ann Hartnett O'Connor, chairperson of the Irish Women Lawyers' Association.
"Maire will be an excellent role model for young women, who now make up more than half of all entrants to the legal profession. She is a hugely respected lawyer. This is an historic achievement; it is another glass ceiling gone."
Paul O'Higgins, chairman of the Bar Council of Ireland, which represents the country's barristers, said the Bar was "delighted" Ms Whelan had been appointed.
"It is a landmark achievement," Mr O'Higgins said. "She is an excellent lawyer and it is a great honour for Maire, her family, the Bar and the country."
Solicitor John Costello, President of the Law Society, the representative body for solicitors, described Ms Whelan as "the utmost professional" who always provided the best service for her clients.
"I can't speak highly enough of her," said Mr Costello who has worked in private practice with Ms Whelan.