This series of images shows the changes to the eastern surrounds of the Four Courts over the past two hundred years.
These two images are from 1797-1802. We know this because they show the old Ormond Bridge which was located further downriver than the current O’Donovan Rossa Bridge built as its replacement. Zoom in on the latter image here.
The above zoomable image by Malton is from 1799 and shows the Four Courts as viewed from Ormond Bridge. The building in the left foreground is the same one shown in the previous picture, albeit from a closer perspective.
This aquatint shows the Ormond Bridge not long after its destruction. There seems to be some sort of substitute ferry service in operation. Chancery Place has yet to be constructed, with an unbroken line of buildings immediately adjacent to the western wing of the Four Courts. A zoom shows that there is no barrier between the quay and the river.
The unbroken line of buildings following on from the west wing is also evident in this work by William Sadler. Zoom to see the public execution taking place in the far distance.
This image is from 1821 and shows the new Richmond (now O’Donovan Rossa) Bridge closer to the Four Courts than the old bridge. The level of detail repays a closer view.
This image (zoom in) is also from the 1820s. In both of these images you can still see a building – albeit a different one – adjacent to the west wing of the Four Courts. The line of the quay around the bridge also appears to be different from today.
You can see the same configuration in the above image.
Things have changed by the time of the above two images. The first of these is from 1837 (zoomable here) and the second from 1842. The property adjacent to the west wing is gone. Instead there is a new wall enclosing some of its area within the Four Courts complex.
The configuration of Chancery Place reflects that in place today (albeit with a new wall in place of the current bollards). The line of the quay also seems to have straightened. The red-brick building at the corner of Chancery Place and Ormond Quay seems to be the same one there today.
A nice variety of vehicles here, from 1878 – view more closely here. At this point, the camera came along.
This photograph of the Four Courts from the turn of the 20th century shows little change from 1837, apart from a new means of transportation – the tram.
A tram also appears in this work by Helen Colvill. Although painted after the bombardment of the Four Courts in 1922, this image depicts the late 19th century Four Courts of fifty years earlier. A closer view shows a nice awning on that building on the corner of Chancery Place.
A colourful view of a mid 20th century Four Courts shows no awning, or side wall. Presumably they were destroyed in the Civil War fighting and not included in the reconstruction. Double-decker buses are replacing trams. Traffic is very light. During this period it was not unusual for Senior Counsel to drive home to Donnybrook for lunch and return in time for the resumption of business at 2.15 p.m.
And finally – a relatively recent photo! You might not think it from this shot, but those traffic lights are very necessary! The trees are leafless, the sky is overcast, and the Four Courts itself could do with a clean, but despite fires, storms, gas explosions, bombs and civil war, it is still standing, and that is really some achievement.
Thank you for reading!