Derry Recorder Tests Lady’s Raincoat for Water Ingress, 1929

From the Derry Journal, 12 April 1929:





A barrister, two solicitors, the Court Registrar and the Court Caretaker spent fifteen minutes in Derry Courthouse yesterday testing the quality of a waterproof coat, a garment which was much on view during the hearing of a claim for £2 by Mrs Johanna Quinn, of Redcliffe, Dunfield Terrace, Waterside, against Messrs. Goorwitch Ltd., for alleged breach of warranty.

Mr read more

A Barrister’s Privilege Against Physical Retribution for Hurt Feelings, 1821

From Saunders’s News-Letter, 27 November 1821:


On Saturday a conditional order was obtained by Counsellor Blackburne, the plaintiff, against Mr Hines, an attorney, for sending a Gentleman to him in the Hall of the Four Courts, to demand an explanation of account of some misunderstanding between them, and for telling him that he must abide the consequences of a refusal.

Mr Sergeant Vandeleur, on behalf of the defendant, contended that the rule ought not to be made absolute, read more

Leonard McNally, Barrister Lyricist, 1787

Irish barristers often have many unexpected talents – and Leonard McNally BL was no exception.

Not only did ‘McNally the Incorruptible’ purport to act as defence counsel for Irish barrister revolutionaries Robert Emmet (above) and the Sheares Brothers while simultaneously informing on them to the authorities, but he was also a songwriter on the side.

McNally (above, at Emmet trial) was in fact the unlikely protagonist of one of the Bar of Ireland’s legendary read more

Take Off That Ugly Mask: The Problem of Barristers’ Hirsute Appendages, 1866-1896

From the Irish Times, 12 and 17 November 1863:

“SIR – The press has ever been the resort of those who have a grievance to complain of.  I trust therefore, you will give me an opportunity of saying a few words against the custom which has compelled so many members of the bar, at the approach of Term, to use the devastating razor and to remove that ornament of the manly countenance which they have cultivated with such care during the long vacation.  Truly, sir, the consternation read more

The Mythical Miss Staveley and the Bamboozled Bar Benevolent Fund, 1927

From the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 17 March 1927:

A remarkable story of the perpetration of frauds on many prominent people both in this country and in Ireland was told at Highgate yesterday, when John LM Reddington, alias Edward McLaughlin (59), of 451 Archway Road, Highgate, was charged with obtaining £1 by false pretences from Mr Andrew Charles O’Connor, formerly Master of the Rolls In Ireland and further with obtaining £25 by false pretences from the Benevolent Society read more

Bride Arrested for Shoplifting on Eve of Wedding, 1826

From the Dublin Evening Post, 26 August 1826:

A young lady, moving in a respectable situation in life, was on Thursday committed to Newgate, Dublin, on a charge of shop-lifting.  The circumstances of this case are rather curious, and possess in some respect a melancholy interest.  This lady was to have been married on the very day that consigned her to disgrace and imprisonment, to an ignominious trial and punishment – for of her guilt, I fear, there is little doubt.  read more

The Dome(s) of the Four Courts, 1785-2020

The original Record Office designed for the Four Courts site by Thomas Cooley did not include a dome, but Cooley’s early death in 1784 coincided with an official decision to expand his design to include the Irish Four Courts, previously situate at Christchurch. His successor James Gandon achieved this by incorporating a central hall at the front of Cooley’s partly built pile, and crowning it with not one but two domes, one on top of the other, with a void between containing a large read more

QC v JC: Junior Bar Privilege, 1836-1912

From the Cork Examiner, 17 March 1864:


Mary Sullivan was indicted for stealing a letter from the Post-office.

Mr Coffey defended the prisoner.  Messrs Clarke QC and Brereton QC, instructed by the Post-office department, prosecuted.

Mr Coffey said that he wished to know if the prosecutors were going to proceed with the case in the absence of junior counsel.

Mr Brereton – We are directed by the Attorney –General to prosecute.

Mr read more

Barrister’s Son Returns from the Dead, 1896

From the Cork Constitution, 5 March 1896:


To-day the Master of the Rolls had before him a case which brought to light a modern Enoch Arden. In 1866 William Henry Boyle, son of a well-known barrister, emigrated to America, leaving his young wife at home. Fortune did not smile on him, and he did not send for his wife. He ceased to write, and for many years his family had heard nothing of him, and at length assumed that he was dead. In this belief his wife married again, read more

In the Footsteps of Kings: Chancery Place, 1224-1916

Chancery Place, on the eastern side of the Four Courts, was originally a much narrower street known as Mass Lane.  The buildings on its western side sat close against the eastern wing of the Four Courts until they were demolished by the Commissioners of Public Works in the early 19th century. The above image from the 1840s shows Chancery Place following these changes and – aside from differences in vehicles, costume, and traffic regulation, and the replacement of the perimeter wall read more