The Cruel Master, 1778

A sad story tonight, from Saunders’ News-Letter, 30 January 1778, involving a murder and secret burial in the graveyard of St Michan’s Church next to the Law Library buildings at 158/9 Church Street. “Last week one of those chimney sweepers who employ a number of boys or children, adapted in their size to the narrowest…

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Beneath the East Wing: The Inns Quay Infirmary, 1728-89

The above image shows the site of the Four Courts as surveyed by John Roque in 1756, when it was still owned by the Benchers of the King’s Inns. You can see what is left of the old Priory/King’s Inns buildings on the far left. Much of the rest of the site has been built…

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The (Would-be) Serial Killer of Church Street, 1861

From the Belfast Morning News, 2 January 1861: “Joseph Dwyer is now in custody on a charge of having made one of the most daring and diabolical attempts to deprive a fellow-creature of life, for the mere purpose of pecuniary gain, that perhaps the world ever heard of. A young man of simple appearance, scarcely…

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Manager of Four Courts Coffee Room Prosecuted for Adulterating Spirits, 1921

From the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 7 April 1921: “Today in the Northern Police Court, before Mr Lupton KC, Mr John Barror, Coffee Room Bar, Four Courts, was summoned, at the suit of Mr Tannam, Inspector of Food, for having, on the 15th February last, sold him four glasses of whiskey adulterated by the addition of…

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No Palles: Health Crisis in Court 3, 1877

When cleaning out the cesspit below the Court of Exchequer in 1854, no one seems to have thought that it might refill even before future barristers conceived in that year had emerged from their chrysalis of devilling. Certainly not Christopher Palles, when he took on the job of Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer at…

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Letting off Steam: Heating Problems in Court 2, 1860

From the Irish Times, 17 January 1860: “COURT OF COMMON PLEAS – YESTERDAY – THE HOT WATER PIPES Previous to the commencement of the business of the court, Mr Serjeant Fitzgibbon complained of the constant steam that was coming up from the pipes underneath the table close to which the gentlemen of the inner bar…

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Down by the (neglected) Four Courts Gardens, 1904

From the Freeman’s Journal, 2 December 1904: “FOUR COURTS GARDENS: Sir – Having had occasion to visit the Four Courts I sauntered round the new buildings, and as I reached the rere opposite to the police offices I was forcibly struck with the neglect and apathy of the surroundings. Here there is a considerable extent…

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A Most Offensive Stench: Court 3, 1831-54

No one was ever quite sure what lay below the Four Courts, other than the following: the Dominican monks of the Priory of St Saviour’s were reputed to have installed an extensive network of subterranean passages, and a hidden river, the Bradogue, flowed underground from Constitution Hill to Ormond Quay, its exact route shrouded in…

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Life-Threatening Law Library Lavatories, 1874

From the Freeman’s Journal, 18 June 1874: “The life of a barrister practising in the Four Courts is imperilled by two distinct sets of circumstances. In the first place there is in summer the all-pervading Liffey stench. In the second place there is all the year round the noisesome den known as the Library. The…

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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…

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Round Hall Ablutions Averted, 1808

From Saunders’s Newsletter, 22 October 1808: “The alterations now making in the New Courts upon the Inns Quay, consist of raising the floor of the great hall up to the level of the platform at the great entrance, which has been somewhat lowered in order to meet the newly raised floor and by this alteration…

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Mr Finn’s Four Courts Coffee-Room, 1839

From the Freeman, 22 January 1839: “John Finn, Henrietta-street, applied for a license for the coffee-room of the Four Courts. Mr Walsh opposed the application, on the part of the Vintners’ Society, and dwelt on the impropriety of such an establishment in the courts. Mr Curran replied in favour of the application, and said that…

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Bookstalls, Showmen and Dancing Dogs, 1821-1840

From the Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail, 26 September 1840: “THE FOUR COURTS:- Although law is very busy in the interior, and the lawyers are not idle in their vocation, the exterior of the building resembles an unfortunate criminal, debarred the privilege of counsel and left to his fate. It is not sufficient that the…

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Armed Footpad Overpowered in Church Street, c. 1800

From the Freeman’s Journal, 30 January 1882: “A curious reminiscence of… old Dublin life turned up at one of the central [police] stations on Friday… [A]n old gentleman entered the station… and produced a small silver-mounted flint pistol, evidently of the last century… He said that he was most anxious to obtain a licence for…

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The Fishwives of Chancery Street, 1835

From Saunders’ Newsletter, October 1835: “SIR – I beg, through the medium of your valuable Paper, to again call the attention of the Commissioners of the Paving Board to the intolerable nuisance, which has been so long suffered to continue in Pill Lane. Nearly from the corner of Arran Street to that of Charles Street,…

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The Hammond Lane Explosion, 1878

From the Freeman’s Journal, 29 April 1878: “On Saturday afternoon Dublin was startled and horrified by one of the most appalling accidents which has ever taken place in this metropolis – an accident by which no less than fourteen fellow creatures have lost their lives, and by which a dreadful amount of suffering, sorrow, misery…

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Human Remains Behind the West Wing, 1834

From the Dublin Observer, 4 January 1834: “Some workmen, employed in the course of the past week in sinking a sewer from the Four Courts to the river, in the course of their excavations discovered, at the depth of about two feet from the surface, and approaching the pallisading enclosing the upper yard from the…

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Mob Attack, Inns Quay, 1830

For the Good Friday that’s in it, this story from Saunders’s News-Letter, 7 June 1830:- “DESPERATE OUTRAGE – For some months past, a person of genteel appearance has appeared in the streets, in various parts of this city, preaching to people, and according to his notions, following the life of one of the first preachers…

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Health and Safety Issues in the Round Hall, 1853

On 4 August 1853, an anonymous barrister, ‘J.P.P’, felt compelled to write to Saunders’ Newsletter complaining about the dangerous condition of the Four Courts: “SIR – During one of the late heavy showers, as I was passing through the hall of the Four Courts to the dark cellar where we barristers put on and off…

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A Pressing Communication, 1881

‘Pneumatic’ is not a word commonly used in relation to the Four Courts. However, for a brief period in the 19th century, the Sub-Post Office in the Four Courts was served by the longest pneumatic mail tube in the world. The operation of this system of delivery, based on the transmission of letters and telegrams…

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The Wigmaker of Arran Quay, 1862

The Dublin Correspondent of the Belfast Newsletter, 13 January 1862, writes: “I should chronicle the departure to his rest of a worthy and venerable citizen of Dublin, who saw in his time many an opening day of Term, and whose richly-stored memory was fraught with numberless anecdotes of the Irish Bar in its palmiest days,…

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The Bridge That Never Was, 1802

Saunders’s News-Letter of 31 December 1802 reported that “[t]here is… a talk of casting a very broad bridge over the river in front of the Four Courts, which shall form an open area equal to the extent of the building; there will afford an opportunity to our architects of showing their genius by making various…

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The Corridor between the Four Courts and Rear Yard Extension, 1857

The 1836 works to the Four Courts not only included fitting a new Law Library, Rolls Court and Nisi Prius Court into the back of the original building, but also involved the erection of an additional rear building comprising a Solicitors Building (situate where the current Law Library is today), Benchers’ rooms and coffee room…

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The First Barristers’ Robing Rooms, 1851

From the Dublin Weekly Nation, 14 August 1875, an illustration of the Liberator Daniel O’Connell exiting the original robing room of the Four Courts. This room’s situation below the Round Hall rendered it vulnerable not only to flooding, but also to incursions by curious members of the public, one of whom was bold enough to…

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The Zoo Next Door, 1821

From Saunders’ News-Letter, 21 April 1821: “EASTER HOLIDAYS The Public are respectfully informed that Polito’s Grand Menagerie, is removed from Abbey Street, to Ormond-Quay, near the Four Courts, where they will be exhibited for a short time previous to their final removal from this kingdom, and in order that all classes may have an opportunity…

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The Original Judges’ Car Park, 1852

The annual State Trials for conspiracy and treason were a very exciting time at the nineteenth-century Four Courts. Many members of the public of all political persuasions attended to observe and comment.  All tried to put their best face forward.  None more so than the Judges.   The style of their arrival on such occasions…

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