The Judge’s Son Who Shelled the Four Courts, 1922

28-30 June 2022 marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Four Courts, the central event of the Irish Civil War, which resulted in severe damage to the original Four Courts building. The image above (via Dublin City Digital Archive) shows the extent of this destruction, which precluded any resumption of legal business on the site until the 1930s.

The extent of involvement of British forces in the Battle of the Four Courts has often been speculated on. The following unattributed newspaper read more

The Time They Tried to Move the Four Courts to London, 1850

From the Freeman’s Journal, 17 July 1850

“HINTS FOR THE IRISH BENCH AND BAR

The Irish bench and bar are now upon their trial in a way more dangerous to them and to the national interests than at any previous time since the Union.  Not a post leaves Ireland without communications from some of the correspondents of the London press, laying bare every accessible point of their position.  If business be brisk it is pointed out with grudging envy, if it is slack a shout of exultation read more

Shouldering Guns Like Gentlemen: Irish Lawyers to the Front, 1914-18

From the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 1 May 1915:

DEPARTURE FROM DUBLIN

Enthusiastic Send off

The departure of the 7th Batt. Royal Dublin Fusiliers, known as the ‘Pals’ Battalion, was responsible for remarkable scenes of enthusiasm in Dublin.

Crowds lined the whole route, and the windows along the streets were filled with cheering spectators.  Practically all classes of the community are represented in the Battalion, which had a large number of professional men, barristers, solicitors, read more

Flags and the Four Courts, 1885-1922

The Prince and Princess of Wales’ 1885 visit to Dublin, as depicted in the Graphic, 18 April 1885. Perhaps because of its dirty condition, there were no depictions of the Four Courts among the many illustrations of the visit.

From the Dublin Daily Express, 17 April 1885:

“Sirs – The soiled flags which were displayed on the Four Courts during the Prince’s visit, and were a disgrace to the noble building, ought, I should think, receive a thoroughly good washing before being replaced on the return of his Royal Highness.

A line or two in your influential paper calling the attention of the authorities to the matter, would, I have no doubt, have the desired effect – I am, sir, yours &c

read more

A Barrister’s Account of the Easter Rising, 1916

Sackville Street, Dublin, following the Rising, via Warwick Digital Collections

From the Northern Whig, 10 May 1916:

Mr Fred H Mullan, solicitor, Trevor Hill, Newry, has just received a very interesting account from Mr John Cusack, BL, of the Easter Rising in Dublin. Mr Cusack states:-

About 12.30 p.m. on Monday I received a telephone message at my house that the Sinn Feiners had seized Stephen’s Green. I walked there, and found the rebels in possession. They had barricaded the gates with garden seats and pieces of wood, and armed sentries were walking read more

Laughter at Under-the-Table Police Chase in Rolls Court, 1857

From the Wexford People, 17 June 1857:

The Master of the Rolls having taken his seat on the bench on Tuesday last, proceeded with the hearing of motions of course. Before they had concluded, Mr Richard Major Hassard, the well-known litigant, who has been for some years past in the frequent habit of making viva voce appeals in person to the equity judges, made his appearance at the side bar, and addressed his Honor, complaining of an order lately made by him in one of the suits in which read more

Irish Barristers and the Dáil Courts, 1920

From The Weekly Freeman’s Journal, 24 July 1920:

“HELPLESS BARRISTERS

LEFT STRANDED IN THE FOUR COURTS

On Thursday last week, the action of D Coffey, Derrymilleen, Co. Cork, farmer, v Denis P O’Regan, Farransbesbary, Enniskeen, Co. Cork, farmer, was listed for hearing in the Chancery division before Mr Justice Powell. The plaintiff sought specific performance of an agreement for sale by the defendant.

When the case was called, Mr DB Sullivan BL said neither of the parties had turned up, read more

Much Guarding, Little Action, Scrambling Breakfasts: the Irish Lawyers’ Corps and the Rebellion of 1798

Shoulder Belt Plate worn by a member of the Irish Lawyers’ Corps, c. 1796

Despite many parades, and much drilling, the question of what that notable barrister militia company, the Lawyers’ Corps, actually did during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 went unanswered for many years. Indeed, it might never have been resolved at all had the Dublin Daily Express not belatedly managed to unearth the diary of an anonymous 24-year-old barrister member of the Corps and publish it in a centenary edition of 27th August 1898. Its contents make interesting reading!

1798: May read more

Singing for its Supper: The Choir of Christ Church Pays Homage to the Court of Exchequer, 1851

From the Belfast News-Letter, 1 December 1851:

“In the Court of Exchequer, on Saturday week, the clergymen and choristers from Christ Church Cathedral appeared and performed their accustomed homage, by singing an anthem and saying prayers. At the entrance of the minister and choristers the barons arose and continued standing during the ceremony.”

The Court of Exchequer was where Court 3 is today, charmingly located over a cesspit read more

A Rare Bird at the Four Courts, 1888

From the Irish Times, 24 May 1888:

“CHASE AFTER A WILD BIRD IN THE LIFFEY

Yesterday, for nearly three hours, the inhabitants, and those who could spare the time, were entertained by a most interesting and exciting chase after a large bird of varied plumage, which was observed in the River Liffey opposite the Four Courts.  It transpired that the bird had some days since wandered from its habitation in the Zoological Gardens, Phoenix Park, and a reward was offered for its recovery.  read more