The Bridge That Never Was, 1802

Saunders’s News-Letter of 31 December 1802 reported that “[t]here is… a talk of casting a very broad bridge over the river in front of the Four Courts, which shall form an open area equal to the extent of the building; there will afford an opportunity to our architects of showing their genius by making various…

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The Corridor between the Four Courts and Rear Yard Extension, 1857

The 1836 works to the Four Courts not only included fitting a new Law Library, Rolls Court and Nisi Prius Court into the back of the original building, but also involved the erection of an additional rear building comprising a Solicitors Building (situate where the current Law Library is today), Benchers’ rooms and coffee room…

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The First Barristers’ Robing Rooms, 1851

From the Dublin Weekly Nation, 14 August 1875, an illustration of the Liberator Daniel O’Connell exiting the original robing room of the Four Courts. This room’s situation below the Round Hall rendered it vulnerable not only to flooding, but also to incursions by curious members of the public, one of whom was bold enough to…

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The First Law Library, 1850

The 1830 Law Library* formerly situate in the upper airspace of today’s Supreme Court was lit almost wholly from the roof – an elegant arrangement which, on at least one occasion, threatened not only the Bar’s safety but, even worse – its dignity! As reported in the Dublin Weekly Mail (20 April 1850): “A most…

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The Gambling Devil, 1836

For young 19th century lawyers not yet able to afford their own carriages, the daily trip to the Four Courts not only posed health and safety risks but also – in circumstances where it was impossible to reach Inns Quay without passing at least one of the numerous gambling dens or ‘hells’ encircling it –…

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Female Lay Litigant Insists on Being Described as a Lady, 1836

Female advocacy did not begin in 1919. Throughout the previous century, there run accounts of skirted lay litigants occasionally creating consternation in the manly precincts of the Four Courts. As this story from Saunders’ Newsletter of 6 December 1836 shows, they could prove courageous opponents, capable of turning any point – including the approaching season…

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A ‘Seduction’ and its Consequences, 1830

A tragic story from the Pilot, 12 April 1830: “On Friday a child only about fourteen years old, and small for her age, appeared before the magistrates at College Street Police-office, to charge an unfortunate associate in crime with having taken two shillings from her the previous night. When questioned about her connection with the…

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Boy Racers on Arran Quay, 1834

The entry of a stray bull into the Round Hall in 1835 proved a one-off event. Livestock, in general, were not attracted to the Four Courts. Carriages, on the other hand, were an entirely different matter, particularly when driven by intoxicated Dublin youth attracted to the long straight stretch of quay in front of the…

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Barrister Kills Solicitor, Becomes Attorney-General, 1814

Regrettable personal differences often arise between Irish barristers and solicitors. Fortunately, not all end as tragically as this dispute reported in the London Courier & Evening Gazette of 19 February 1814:- “On Saturday evening… a meeting took place on the Strand in Sandymount, between [recently qualified barrister] Counsellor Hatchell and Mr Morley… an eminent attorney.…

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Barrister-Barrister Shooting, 1815

In addition to shooting solicitors they did not agree with, early Irish barristers also occasionally settled by force of arms disputes between themselves. One example is reported in the Dublin Correspondent, 9 May 1815: “In consequence of some warm language which passed in the Four Courts yesterday, between Messrs Wallace and O’Gorman, two Gentlemen of…

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Female Lay Litigant Accorded Precedence Over Attorney-General, 1853

Another ‘lady’ advocate story from the Evening Freeman, 12 January 1853: “The Hon. Justice Crampton entered court shortly after twelve o’clock, and took his seat on the bench, costumed in his full dress peruke and state robes…. Mrs Winter, who had been waiting the sitting of the full court… said that she appeared to sustain…

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Lawyers Exit, Pursued by a Bull, 1835

From the Dublin Pilot, via the Leeds Times, January 3, 1835: “On Thursday week, about one o’clock, a bull on its way from Smithfield, turned into the entrance of the Four Courts, under the grand portico, and immediately put to flight the crowd of litigants who were at the time actively engaged in what is…

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Solicitor’s Spouse Springs Prisoner from the Marshalsea, 1850

If you were to find yourself in a 19th century Victorian cab, driving through Dublin, where would you direct the driver to go? The Four Courts of course! Be careful, though, to check your pocket for your fare, or you might end up at the other Four Courts – the Four Courts Marshalsea – where…

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The Zoo Next Door, 1821

From Saunders’ News-Letter, 21 April 1821: “EASTER HOLIDAYS The Public are respectfully informed that Polito’s Grand Menagerie, is removed from Abbey Street, to Ormond-Quay, near the Four Courts, where they will be exhibited for a short time previous to their final removal from this kingdom, and in order that all classes may have an opportunity…

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The Original Judges’ Car Park, 1852

The annual State Trials for conspiracy and treason were a very exciting time at the nineteenth-century Four Courts. Many members of the public of all political persuasions attended to observe and comment.  All tried to put their best face forward.  None more so than the Judges.   The style of their arrival on such occasions…

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Barristers’ Bags Stolen and Recovered, 1853

From the Freeman’s Journal, 7 June 1853: “A man named John Whitaker was… charged with having stolen a large number of briefs and a law book the property of Messrs. Robinson, QC, Robert Owen Lawson, JF Martley and McCarthy, barristers. It appeared that a person named McDonnell had been employed by several barristers to carry…

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Groom Obtains Habeas Corpus in respect of Bride, 1824

From the Dublin Evening Post, 22 June 1824, a story of young love’s triumph over parental opposition: “Mr Sheil… moved for a Habeas Corpus against William Ormsby, the Marshal of the Four Courts, commanding him to bring up the body of his daughter, Jane Ormsby. Mr Sheil said, that he moved upon the affidavit of…

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