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 extraordinary scene was presented in the Law Library of the Four Courts when hailstones burst over it. There were sixty or seventy barristers writing in the inside room when a sudden flash of lightning was succeeded by a shower of hailstones, some as large as grapes. Instantly every pane of glass was shivered, and the fragments dashed down on the learned heads. The wig proved a helmet, but notwithstanding this protection, briefs, books and bills were instantly deserted. Some were protected under the old folios, spreading these capacious volumes over them, whilst others wrapped their gowns turban wise round their heads, whilst the hail pelted in and glass flew about in every direction, but when the storm passed over the destruction was visible, and many a forsaken wig had received the contents of folios of drafts which were totally washed out and obliterated.”

This disaster was merely the first in a series of unfortunate events for the first Law Library!

*Not to be confused with the current Law Library, or indeed its immediate predecessor, the 1894 Law Library.

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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