Cockfighting in Arran Square, 1844

From the Freeman’s Journal, 15 April 1844:

In consequence of a communication by the secretary for the prevention of cruelty, instructions were given to the police to look sharply after a cockfighting match about to come off in Hammond-Lane. The police proceeded to the place at the specified time, and the result was an introduction of twenty five persons to answer a charge having been present at, and encouraged the fight…

Mr Superintendent Selwood… proved that the cockfight took place, and that seats were arranged round the pit, one above another, after the manner of a theatre. One of the prisoners, named Lawlor, was the only person identified by these witnesses.

Mr Curran – As regards Lawlor, I may here state that he is an artist, and was at the fight for the purpose of taking sketches.

Dr Kelly (magistrate) – You may as well say that if an artist were present when Delahunt was mangling his victim for the purpose of taking a sketch, that he would be held innocent in the eyes of the law.

Mr Curran – That is pushing the case too far. We must admit that cockfighting is a very ancient game, and was upheld by our ancestors.

Dr Kelly – But it is against the law now, and was always against humanity.

Lawlor: Why Sir, I wanted my pictures for the exhibition (here the speaker exhibited two large pictures, each representing cocks).  See here, gentlemen, I had partly executed a fight, and was prepared to do what we call a “set to”.  I was considerably improved by going to Hammond-Lane, for I altered the position of this one, and they are all what I call very beautiful figures (laughter)… I am sure you have not such bad taste as to endeavour to put down the fine arts (laughter).

Mr Curran argued on behalf of the prisoners for some time, and at length they were fined 1s each, on the payment of which they were discharged.

Mr Lawlor subsequently switched from sketching to sculpture, and moved to London, where he became popular and famous, though he worked only when necessity compelled him, and therefore failed to put aside money for his old age.

The location of the cock-fight now forms part of Arran Square, where eminent barristers prepare for different types of fights!

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Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

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