State Trial Implodes as Attorney General Challenges Opposing Counsel to Duel, 1844

From the Sun (London), 1 February 1844: “The Irish State trials were resumed on Tuesday, when Mr Fitzgibbon QC, appearing for Mr Gray, said that the doctrine of conspiracy, as laid down by the Attorney-General, was that it was a combination of two or more persons to do an illegal act, or do a lawful…

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Mad Cow Escapade in Chancery Street, 1856

From the Freeman’s Journal, 19 July 1856: “Mad Cow – Serious Accident A young lad named Dominick Roynane was brought up in custody of Police Constable John Cartin 101D, charged with incautiously driving through the streets, without proper control, a wild and furious cow, to the great danger of the public. It appears from the…

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Swallowing the Evidence, 1839

From the Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent, September 1839: “EXTRAORDINARY CASE- SWALLOWING A WATCH A young gentleman, called Rathbane, charged Anne Lynch with having stolen his watch. Complainant said he was passing through Marlborough Street when he was followed by the prisoner, who snatched the watch out of his waistcoat pocket.  He seized her on the…

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Something Wicker This Way Comes: Laughter in Court at Child Noise Nuisance Case, 1853

From the Evening Freeman, 18 April 1853: “CONSOLIDATED NISI PRIUS COURT – SATURDAY Mangan v Tuthill This was an appeal from a decree of St Sepulchre’s Court for £9. Counsel for Mr Tuthill stated that his client lived in No 6 Rathmines Road, and the appellant in No 5; that his client had been greatly…

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Let off for Lunch: Pioneering Women Jurors, 1921

In 1921, Irish women became eligible for jury service on civil and criminal trials. This article by Anna Joyce from the Freeman’s Journal of 9 February 1921 brings us back in time to the very first High Court trial involving women jurors: “Some people suffer from boredom to an excessive degree, and some do not…

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Bomb Outrages in the Four Courts, 1893

From the Globe, 7 May 1893: “At about 20 minutes to 11 o’clock at night a serious explosion occurred at the Four Courts, Dublin.  The substance, whatever it may have been, and it is generally believed to have been glycerine encased in a metallic vessel, was evidently thrown by some person passing along the quay,…

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Bullet-Piercings, Bombs, Whiskey and Cigars: The Four Courts after the Rising, May-June 1916

The occupation of the Four Courts by rebel forces in 1916 led to much anxious speculation as to the extent of the resulting destruction. An initial gloomy report from the Northern Whig of the 1st May 1916 recounted that “Most extensive and indeed irreparable damage has been done by the Sinn Feiners. They threw a…

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Schoolgirls Ordered Out of Court, 1915

From the Belfast Newsletter, January 18, 1915: “An extraordinary incident occurred at the Four Courts yesterday. Shortly before eleven o’clock one of the courts, in which a divorce action had been listed for hearing before Mr Justice Molony, was invaded by upwards of eighty girls, apparently schoolgirls, whose ages would range from 16 to 20…

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Like Strokes of a Stick on a Carpet, 1891

From the Sligo Independent, 7 November 1891: “An exciting incident occurred at the Four Courts yesterday afternoon, just before three o’clock… In the passage to the coffee room Mr MacDermott, son of Mr Alfred MacDermott, Solicitor, met Mr Timothy Healy, MP and QC and straightaway attacked him with a cutting whip, striking him repeatedly and…

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Compliments from a Four Courts’ Prisoner, 1916

From the Irish Independent, 15 May 1916: “A FOUR COURTS PRISONER Captain RK Brereton, JP, Ladywell, Athlone, relating his experiences in Dublin during the rising, states that he motored through the Phoenix Park on Easter Monday evening, and was taken prisoner by the Sinn Feiners at a barricade near the Four Courts, being informed that…

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Plumber’s Assistant Dies in Bankruptcy Court Explosion, 1888

From the Dublin Daily Express, 24 January 1888: “TERRIFIC GAS EXPLOSION AT THE FOUR COURTS – ONE LIFE LOST About half-past three o’clock yesterday afternoon, a terrific gas explosion occurred in the Bankruptcy Buildings of the Four Courts, and resulted in the death of one lad, the injury of two other persons, and the destruction…

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A Four Courts Hold-Up, 1920

From the Irish Examiner, 2 December 1920: “FOUR COURTS SCARE – BARRISTERS HELD UP Our Dublin Correspondent wired last night.  Shortly before 4 o’clock this afternoon a sensation was caused at the Four Courts by the arrival of a party of Auxiliary Police wearing tam-o-shanters.  They came in motors and scattered all over the buildings,…

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The Elephant in the Yard, 1906

From the Irish Examiner, 6 March 1906: “The Rolls Court, under ordinary circumstances a prosaic place where nothing but heavy legal arguments about Chancery suits are heard, was today a scene of some interest. The court was thronged by members of the public, theatrical gentlemen, and barristers for the hearing of the application of the…

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Three Legal Men and a Baby, 1832

From the Dublin Morning Register, 27 March 1832; “On Friday last, an infant child was picked up by a girl of the town in one of the piazzas, at the Four Courts, where women of her character are nightly accustomed to resort. She… attempted to lodge it with the watchman on the station, by whom…

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House Party with Legal Associations Ends in Accusations of Theft, 1844

From the Freeman’s Journal, 13 June 1844: “Laurence Broderick, a decent looking person, residing at Capel Street, was charged with having robbed Eliza Lee, who used to sell fruit and cakes about the hall of the Four Courts, of the sum of £1.15s.1d [Miss Lee] said that she, with another female and Mr Flood, a…

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Four Courts Bag-Carriers and the Great Robing-Room Heist, 1882

From the Freeman’s Journal, 20 October 1882: “Maryanne Mulvey and Christopher Mulvey, “bag carriers” employed at the Four Courts, were brought up by Constables 97D and 113D charged with having stolen from one of the Four Courts’ dressing rooms, between the 7th and 15th October, a morning coat value £1, the property of Mr Jellet…

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The Four Courts on Fire, 1805-1922

From the Freeman’s Journal, 21 December 1867: “Great excitement was occasioned yesterday by the announcement that the north-eastern wing of the Four Courts was on fire, and that a large quantity of valuable documents had been consumed. At twenty-five minutes past seven o’clock, Mr James Reid and Mr Matthew Kennedy, and Police Constable 20D, observed…

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Tipstaff Bōjutsu, 1837

From the Freeman’s Journal, 25 September 1837: “Patrick Falkner, a tipstaff, was indicted for assaulting John Kelly, a car-driver. Mr Kelly deposed that he was waiting, with his car, in the yard of the Four Courts for the gentlemen to come out, when, on his refusing to leave, the accused came up to him and…

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A Successful Haunted House Defence, 1885

From the Cambridge Independent Press, 28 February 1885: “A remarkable case was heard on Saturday in Dublin. Mr Waldron, a solicitor’s clerk, sued his next door neighbour, who is a mate in the merchant service, named Kiernan, to recover £500 damages for injuries done to his house. Kiernan denied the charge, and asserted that Waldron’s…

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Two Nights with Rose Lovely, 1823

From the Morning Chronicle, 10 October 1823, yet another lesson in the dangers lurking for the unwary on the journey home from the Four Courts: “THE LOVELY ROSE – A dashing Cyprian, whose charms were quite in accordance with her name, Rose Lovely, was indicted for having robbed William Kelly, a very respectable man of…

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Attorney-General Arranges Bare-Knuckle Boxing Bout, 1824

From the Evening Mail, 30 June 1824: “The lovers of the Fancy were gratified on Monday last, with a display seldom witnessed in this uncivilised Country. Two matches had been made. The parties were – two draymen of Christies’ Bray Brewery, versus one Rev. Fellow of College, and a son of our clever Attorney-general. Loughlinstown…

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By Dublin Central Station We Nearly Sat, 1863

From the Freeman’s journal, 3 July 1863: “SIR – Kindly allow me to express my opinion on the construction of the Dublin Metropolitan Railway, and to offer what I think would be the most picturesque and least obstructive way the railway could run… Let a viaduct be constructed with cylindrical iron shafts, to run along…

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Juror Arrested, Blames Seagull-Shooting Lodger, 1866

From the Manchester Chronicle, 17 December 1866: “An extensive seizure of arms and ammunition was made in a house in Trinity Street, Dublin belonging to a tailor called Downey… at the top story of the house, the police found ten well-finished revolvers, two fowling pieces and a large quantity of ammunition. One of the revolvers…

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Lord Chief Justice Declared Too Good to Live, 1822

From Saunders’s Newsletter, 26 April 1822: “A singular character appeared about noon yesterday, in the yard of the Four-Courts, seated upon a jaunting-car, and holding in each hand a curious small gun loaded with ball; he was habited in a green coat, with G.R. on the buttons… he declared he could fire off his pieces…

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Gatecrashing a Bar Meeting, 1830

As you can see from the illustrations above, Courts 1-4 as originally furnished included a handsome box (complete with coat-hooks and inkwells) specifically for the Press. Pre-Law Library, the Courts were often used for Bar meetings and the Freeman’s Journal of 16 February 1830 contains an interesting account of one such meeting, held to discuss…

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The Perils of Personal Service, 1834

From the Wexford Conservative, 7 May 1834: “[A]n unfortunate man appeared in the hall of the Four Courts on Thursday with his face and head swollen inflamed and lacerated in a most shocking manner. His nose was literally flattened, and covered with dressing plaster and his hair and clothes were besmirched with blood, and his…

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Mr Hooks, 1862

From the Oxford Journal, 15 February 1862: “An amusing breach of promise case came before the Dublin Court of Exchequer on Friday. The plaintiff is Miss Agnes Harrison, a lady of thirty-five summers, who resides with her brother in Armagh… the ungallant defendant, who rejoices in the euphonious name of Hooks, is one of the…

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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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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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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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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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