Stories

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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Irish Barristers and their Fees, 1866

From the Dublin Evening Mail, 24 October 1866: “A gentleman who signs himself ‘A Stuff Gown,’ states in a letter addressed to a Dublin contemporary… that ‘bar etiquette requires that barristers shall not accept briefs unless they get the fees with them, and that gentlemen who do otherwise violate, in a most important particular, the…

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Tragic Tipstaff Death in Phoenix Park, 1905

From the Irish News and Belfast Morning News, 9 June 1905, this sad account of the death of Mr Robert Pierson, tipstaff/crier to the Recorder of Dublin: “Yesterday at the Dublin City Commission, before the Lord Chief Justice and a jury, James Doolan, publican, Watling Street, was charged with the manslaughter of Robert Pierson, who…

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The Registrar who Knew Joyce, 1937

From the Irish Press, 19 October 1937 (photo above): “The ceremony of opening the new revolving doors at the Chancery Place entrance to the High Court was performed by Mr CP Curran, Senior Registrar, in the absence of the Master of the High Court yesterday. The doors are the first of the kind to be…

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Round Hall Wrestle After Perceived Insult to Barrister’s Mother, 1893

From the Belfast News-Letter, 25 January 1893: “Dublin, Tuesday – Mr Pierce De Lacey Mahony, Parnellite candidate for North Meath, a picturesque, handsome, tall, sparely-built man, with Shakespearian cast of countenance, fine dark eyes and hair turning grey, assailed, Mr Matthew J Kenny, MP, of the North=West Bar, a tall, sinewy athlete, dark and fierce,…

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A Noise Sensitive Judge at the Cork Assizes, 1864

From the Belfast Weekly News, 6 August 1864 JUDGE BALL KEEPING ORDER The learned judge, who is now in Cork, continues to maintain discipline with the region of a judicial martinet… At the sitting of the Court on Thursday, his lordship, addressing Sub-Inspector Channel, said:- The noise that has been in the court during the…

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Barrister Sentenced to Six Months’ Hard Labour for Stealing Books from Trinity College Library, 1840

From the Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail, 18 April 1840: “CONVICTION OF A BARRISTER FOR FELONY. Robert Harman, a barrister, was indicted for stealing a number of books from Trinity College Library, the property of the University. The prisoner, when placed at the bar, trembled from head to foot, and during a great portion of…

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No False Telegram, 1928

From the Nottingham Journal, 11 September 1928: ‘An Irish solicitor, Mr NC Caruth, of Ballymona (Co Antrim) left a curious request in his will just proved. He directed that if any of his sons were abroad at the time of his death no false telegram shall be sent announcing his death, but his wife should…

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Law Library Staff Member Leaves Bride at Altar, 1842

From the Dublin Monitor, 8 August 1842, an interesting account of an action for breach of promise brought by Maria Ormsby, of North Strand, against William Supple, a member of staff in the Law Library: “Mr P Casserly, for the Plaintiff, said that he need not tell the jury, that a person holding office in…

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Solicitor Delays Discovery to Protect Morals of Lady Typists, 1906

From the Mail, 15 August 1906: “DUBLIN SOLICITOR AND HIS LADY TYPISTS In the Probate and Matrimonial Division, today, in the case of Fitzgerald v Fitzgerald, known as the Waterford matrimonial case, Mr Rice applied on behalf of the male petitioner for an order directing Mr Shannon, the solicitor on the other side, to give…

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Judicial Assassination Attempt at Corner of Leinster Street and Kildare Street Foiled by Observant Pensioner, 1882

From the Kirkaldy Times, 15 November 1882: “A daring attempt was made to assassinate Mr Justice Lawson on Saturday night, in Dublin.  He had an engagement to dine at the King’s Inn and left his house in Fitzwilliam Street for that purpose.  The guard by which the judge has recently been always accompanied consisted of…

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Apprentice Solicitor Swordfight on Eve of Qualification, 1717

A very early Irish legal story, from Pue’s Occurrences, 31 January 1719:   “About 3 quarters after 2 in the Afternoon, Mr Leigh, eldest Son of Richard Leigh Esq of the County of Westmeath, and one Mr Smith, Son to Mr Smith, at the Sun near Smithfield (who served his Time to an Attorney, and was…

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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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A Stolen Judicial Lunch Goes Viral, 1912

From the Derry Journal, 21 February 1912: “JUDGE KENNY’S LUNCH Luncheon was spread in his private chamber in the Four Courts, Dublin, for Judge Kenny, when, about 1.30 p.m., a tramp entered and lost no time in helping himself to his lordship’s meal. The Judge’s attendant on entering found this audacious visitor in the act…

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Ballymoney Barrister Treats Servants as Guests, 1913

From the Jarrow Express, 21 July 1913: “A remarkable defence was made in a case in which Mr Robert Cramsie, barrister-at-law, of Ballymoney, Co Antrim, was prosecuted before the local magistrates by the Irish Insurance Commissioners for failing to pay the contributions under the National Insurance Act in respect of three employees. The defence was…

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From ‘Back Hair’ to Go-Go Boots: Fashion and the Female Barrister, 1921-1967

From the Belfast News-Letter, 21 January 1922, this account of an interview with Frances Kyle, Ireland’s (technically) first woman barrister, having been called a couple of minutes or so before her colleague Averil Deverell: “‘How do you like the wig,’ I asked as the short winter afternoon closed in, and we rose to say ‘good-bye.’…

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Irish Solicitor Efficiently Rescued After Falling Off Dublin-Holyhead Ferry mid-Channel, 1932

From the Belfast Telegraph, 26 October 1932: “Passengers on the RMS Scotia from Dun Laoghaire (Kingstown) to Holyhead on Tuesday night witnessed the rescue of an Irish solicitor, Mr O’Connor.  It appears that somewhere about mid-channel he fell overboard.  The ship was stopped and one of the lifeboats lowered, and after a time Mr O’Connor…

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Hot, and More Often Not: Calibrating the Four Courts, 1796-1922

From the Freeman’s Journal, 15 December 1881: “The Hall of the Four Courts was an exceedingly cold as well as a comparatively deserted place.  In all the Divisional Courts, magnificent fires were kept up – each of them big enough to roast an ox – but these for the most part were engrossed by shivering,…

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Judges Accompanied to Assizes by Armed Convoys, 1920-21

From the Belfast News-Letter, 2 July 1920: “WELL GUARDED JUDGES AT SUMMER ASSIZES Practically all the judges going out on circuit in the Irish Summer Assizes yesterday travelled by motor car, in view of the possibility that they would be held up if they journeyed by train. At every assize town armed judges and police…

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Breach of Promise Proceedings by Smitten Solicitor’s Clerk, 1892

From the Freeman’s Journal, 9 January 1892: “A DUBLIN BREACH OF PROMISE CASE Yesterday Master Pigott sat in the Master’s office to hear a case of Lee v Doyle.  The defendant, describing himself as Richard Lee, solicitor’s assistant, 17 Walton Terrace, Drumcondra Park Upper, sued Miss Marion Doyle, 15 Kenmare Park, spinster, to recover £100…

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Slanging it Out: The Vernacular in the Courtroom, 1872-1942

From the Belfast News-Letter, 5 March 1930: “The use of the letters ‘BL’ after the name of a barrister-at-law was condemned by the Lord Chief Justice (the right Hon William Moore) in the King’s Bench division of the Northern Law Courts yesterday. Legal documents before his Lordship included the name of a lady barrister who…

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Popular Killarney Solicitor Disappears after Derby Win, Turns Up Decades Later in South Africa, 1886-1906

From the Kerry Evening Post, 19 June 1886: “The public who are conversant with the facts of the sudden and mysterious disappearance in London of Mr Alfred M Bernard, Solicitor, of Sheheree, near Killarney, where he was on official business, entertain the gravest apprehension that he met with foul play, and, indeed, everything surrounding the…

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The Sentinel with the Sonorous Voice: Bramley of the Law Library, 1869-1904

From the Belfast Newsletter, 15 January 1904: “A celebrity of the Four Courts has joined the majority, and the frequenters of the Law Library will miss the stalwart form and the stentorian voice of Bramley.  Every solicitor in Ireland knew Bramley.  He sat as trusty sentinel at his rostrum within the portals of the Library. …

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The Wimple Life, 1908

From the Preston Herald, 22 August 1908: “Unless the widow of Mr Michael J Hanmore, a solicitor, late of 3, Prince of Wales Terrace, Bray, Co Wicklow, consents to enter a convent and devote the remainder of her life to prayer. His executors are instructed that she is to receive her jewellery and wearing apparel…

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Barrister Overboard, 1873

From the Ballyshannon Herald, 21 June 1873: “FATAL ACCIDENT TO A DUBLIN BARRISTER Yesterday afternoon, after the steamship Sarmatian reached her wharf at South Quebec, a most melancholy accident occurred to Mr JS Barrett, barrister, of Dublin, a cabin passenger on his way to Toronto.  He went on shore to look after the baggage of…

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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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Derry Girl’s Application to Become Barrister Rejected by Benchers of King’s Inns, 1901

From the Irish News and Belfast Morning News, 26 October 1901 “The usual monotony of the meeting of the Benchers to-day was varied by an incident which should serve as a reminder to them and to all men that the slow-going nineteenth century has come to an end, and that we are now in the…

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The Todd Brothers, 1917-18

From the Dublin Daily Express, 14 April 1916 “LIVELY EXCHANGES BETWEEN RECORDER AND HIS BROTHER Londonderry, Thursday Following lively exchanges between his Honour Judge Todd, Recorder, Derry, and his brother, Dr Todd, Crown Solicitor, there was an extraordinary scene at Derry Quarter Sessions today, culminating in his Honour adjourning the case and stating that he…

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The Great Golfing Days of the Irish Bar, 1904-14

From the Western Morning News of 21 April 1911: “The representative match between the members of the Bar Golfing Society and the Irish Bar has now become a very well-established annual fixture.  At one time there was the possibility of the contest being only an intermittent one and an idea was prevalent that the Irish…

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Dry Rot, Destitute Juniors and the Law of Cause and Effect: The New Bar Library, 1897-1909

The formal opening of the second Law Library in the Eastern Wing of the Four Courts on 15 April 1897 prompted a gush of admiration from the popular press, with the following day’s Irish Times describing the new premises as “a splendid building, in which there have been provided tables, desks and chairs affording seating…

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A Mysterious Assault on a Four Courts Registrar, 1916

From the Belfast Newsletter, June 16, 1916: “FOUR COURTS OFFICIAL INJURED STRANGE AFFAIR AT BLACKROCK A sensational and mysterious assault is reported from Blackrock, County Dublin, the victim being Mr Francis Kennedy, Associate of the King’s Bench, and nephew of the Lord Chief Justice. It appears that in the early hours of the morning, Mr…

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The Female Barrister – Fair, Feared and ‘Finished at Forty,’ 1896

The 1896 decision of the Benchers of the Ontario Law Society to admit women to the Bar of Ontario, resulted in a flurry of excitement as to whether the same dread fate might await this jurisdiction. The Freeman’s Journal of 12 August 1896 did not look kindly on the idea of female barristers, stating that…

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If Cats Could Talk: The Fatal Fall of a Donegal Solicitor, 1916

From the Evening Herald, 7 September 1916: “Solicitor’s Claim for Alleged Slander etc Today, before Mr Justice Gordon, sitting as Vacation Judge, the case of John Mackey v the Four Courts Hotel Co Ltd, and Henry G Kilbey, managing director, was listed for hearing. The plaintiff sought damages laid at £10,000 for slander, false imprisonment,…

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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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The Musket and the Brief, 1798

Yesterday’s relaxation of traditional requirements regarding barristers’ court dress brings to mind an earlier decision of the Benchers in Trinity Term 1798 permitting barrister members of the Lawyers’ Corps to appear in court armed and in uniform. Sheil’s ‘Sketches of the Irish Bar’ records subsequent events in all their colourful fulfilment: “Justice was stripped of…

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Law Library ‘Boy’ Sues for Damaged Bicycle, 1910

From the Irish Independent, 28 July 1910: “In the action brought by Patrick Geraghty to recover £10 damages from John S Russell for injuries to his bicycle caused, as alleged, by the defendant’s motor car, the Recorder, at the City Sessions yesterday, said that the evidence was so conflicting that he would direct the case…

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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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Barristers Play the Market, 1900

From the Freeman’s Journal, 1 February 1900, this story set during the Anglo- Boer War of 1899-1902: “There is nothing more interesting in the Four Courts Law Library at present than the telegrams which are sent there daily to a group of barristers who have arranged for a supply of information from Stock Exchange sources. …

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Barrister’s Daughter Elopes in Mother’s Dress, 1878

From the Freeman’s Journal, 28 February 1878: “(SPECIAL TELEGRAM FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT) An extraordinary case of elopement has just come to light.  This morning there arrived in Belfast by the Royal Mail steamer from Glasgow a somewhat prepossessing young lady, said to be the daughter of a barrister residing in the Irish metropolis.  She was…

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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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Old Barristers Swoop In to Claim Seats in New Law Library, 1897

From the Freeman’s Journal, 23 February 1897, this story dealing with initial seating allocation in the ‘new’ Law Library, located in the Eastern Wing and replacing an older Law Library behind the Round Hall: “ALLOCATION OF SEATS Yesterday was a day of some excitement amongst the barristers at the Four Courts owing to the fact…

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Bloodhound Sent Out After Father of the Irish Bar Disappears in Scottish Highlands, 1889

From the Glasgow Evening Post, 4 October 1889: “DISAPPEARANCE OF A DUBLIN BARRISTER Mr Andrews, a QC of Dublin, aged 87 years, who has been residing at Tighnabruaich, Kyles of Bute, for some time, has been missing since Wednesday.  On Wednesday afternoon he was out for a walk along the road leading toward Glen Caladh,…

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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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Irish Woman Barrister Secures Acquittal for Client on Murder Charge, 1931

From the Waterford Standard, 14 March 1931: “LADY BARRISTER WINS HER FIRST MURDER CASE When she defended Mary Ellen Farrelly, Goiley, Fordstown, Kells, at the Central Criminal Court, Dublin, this week, Miss K Phelan BL won the first murder case in which she had pleaded. Farrelly was charged with the murder of her infant son,…

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Son of Court 2 Housekeeper Kills Son of Court 3 Housekeeper in 22 Rounds at Bully’s Acre, 1816

From the Belfast Commercial Chronicle Dublin 2 May, 1816: “On Tuesday evening, two young men of the names of John Goold and Michael White, had a regular pitched battle in the field near the Military Road, which terminated, after two-and-twenty rounds, by blow given by the latter to the stomach of the former, which put…

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Barrister Rescues Sheep, Sued by its Owner, 1907

From the Northern Whig, 29 October 1907 “It is not the first time that trop de zele has brought trouble upon honest people.  The eagerness of Mr Robert Doyle, a member of the Irish Bar, in the cause of prevention of cruelty to animals, made him a defendant in an action for damages in the…

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The Prime of Miss Averil Deverell, 1937

All members of the Irish Bar know of Averil Deverell, whose enigmatic representation in oils smiles down, Brodie-like, from the wall of the Four Courts Law Library. Miss Deverell holds the distinction of being not only the first practising woman barrister in Southern Ireland but also one of the first (possibly the only?) set of…

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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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Barrister Goes on Fire in Ballina Circuit Court, 1934

From the Meath Chronicle, 24 November 1934: “BARRISTER ON FIRE IN COURT Mr Connolly, a barrister, was addressing Judge Wyse-Power in Ballina (Co Mayo) Circuit Court, when his gown came in contact with an electric fire and blazed up. A solicitor dashed forward and put out the flames after a good part of the gown…

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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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Along for the Ride, Pre-Railway

From the Connaught Telegraph, 14 March 1914, this interesting account of the periodic sittings of the Courts of Assizes, which, until their abolition in 1924, had jurisdiction outside Dublin over the most serious criminal offences: “The arrival of the train by which their lordships and the members of the circuit travel in modern times, is always…

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Lady Law Clerks Strike Out, 1920

From the Irish Examiner, 3 June, 1920 “The Law Clerks, who are on strike, and a number of their colleagues, who joined with them in sympathy, made a remarkable demonstration at the Four Courts today, on the occasion of the resumption of business there on the opening of Trinity Term.  At about 10 o’clock, to…

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Dressed to Kilt, 1930

From the Irish Examiner, January 21, 1930: “A touch of novelty was given to the ceremony of calling a number of young gentlemen to the Bar in the Supreme Court this morning.  One of them appeared in kilts.  The regulation wig and gown did not harmonise with this costume, and an old Brehon might have…

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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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The Disappearance of an Official Assignee, 1885

From the Freeman’s Journal, 2 June 1885: “The prolonged absence from duty of a prominent official connected with an important department in the Four Courts has given rise to rumors more or less compromising… the official in question more than three weeks ago obtained leave of absence on account of ill-health, that he repaired to…

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The New Law Library, 1895

From the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 10 August 1895: “[T]he new bar library at the Four Courts is rapidly approaching completion.  Only those who have had occasion to visit it can have any idea of the wretched character of the apartment in which the members of the bar have hitherto had to make up their cases… …

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Barrister Shoots Himself While Practising for Lawyers’ Corps, 1803

From the Dublin Journal, 22 March 1803: “Died on Friday last, at Montpelier Place, near the Black Rock, James Sweetman Esq, Barrister at Law. His death was occasioned by an unhappy accident; he was in the Lawyers Corps, and though in a weak state of health, had determined to resume his arms upon the present…

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A Redundant Crier, 1900

From the Irish Times, 19 December 1900 “Yesterday in the Queen’s Bench Division… the case of Cooper v the Queen came on for argument… the question raised was whether the supplicant, who was crier or tipstaff of the Court of Bankruptcy, appointed by the late Judge Millar, had a permanent office, and was entitled to…

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Law Student Shoots Solicitor, Barrister Touts for Defence Brief, 1926

From the Londonderry Sentinel, 3 June 1926: “A shocking crime was committed in Dublin on Tuesday night as a result of which Daniel Joseph Gleeson, a law student, giving an address in Clonliffe Road, has been arrested on a charge of murder. Shortly after seven p.m. it is alleged that Gleeson entered the office of…

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A Strange Bequest, 1913

From the Aberdeen Daily Journal, 23 September 1913: “Mr William Green, of Gardiner’s Place, Dublin, barrister, for some time editor of the Authorised Law Reports, left personal estate in the United Kingdom valued at £1059. The testator bequeathed £100, his books, pictures and medals, and a little wax doll in blue silk dress to his…

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A Barrister’s Johnnie, 1924

From the Evening Herald, 7 March 1924: “At the Sessions today, before the Recorder, Mr Alex Lynn, BL, sued Mr Richard Mulcahy, as Minister of Defence, and Major General Guilfoyle for damages for loss of a wig and gown and a brief bag and contents alleged to have been seized by military forces at 23…

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Barristers Successfully Challenge Exclusion from Side Passages of Court, 1848

In an era in which the courts, and not parliament, served as the primary venue for Irish political theatre, one significant side benefit of being a barrister was the opportunity of a ringside seat! The Kilkenny Journal, 24 May 1848, contains a report of an interesting minor skirmish which occurred in the course of the…

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Doing ‘Circuit’ in a Motor, 1907

From the Freeman’s Journal, 2 July 1907: “The march of science received a new illustration at the Four Courts yesterday, when some half-dozen members of the Leinster Circuit started in a motor car from the Four Courts for Nenagh, at which town the Assizes open today. The car was a big one of the St…

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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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Solicitor Restrained from Breaking Through Judicial Procession Sues for Assault, 1898

From the Weekly Nation, 30 April 1898: “Constable 141A was summoned [for assault] by Mr Alfred MacDermott, solicitor. Mr McDermott said he was crossing under the covered passage at the coffee room door of the Four Courts [when he got] a blow across the chest from the defendant… he was seized from behind by the…

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Barrister Railway Fatalities, 1862-1921

From the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 11 January 1921: “The sad news of the tragic death of Mr Henry Kennedy, a member of the Irish Bar, in Switzerland on Saturday night reached the Four Courts today.  It appears that while getting into a train about 11.30 p.m. at the frontier on his way home, he missed…

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Barristers’ Term-Time Immunity from Arrest for Debt, 1860

From the Irish Times, 1 February 1860: “[In] Rubenstein v O’Hara… an application was made for the purposes of discharging the defendant, a practising barrister, from arrest [for debt]. The plaintiff… left home to attend the hall of the Four Courts [without an] actual brief, but in the course of the day, he was instructed…

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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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Tardy Judge Fines Solicitors Who Fail to Wait, 1899

From the Daily Nation, 19 January 1899: “SIR- Reading from to-day’s ‘Legal Diary’, I find that Judge Ross [was] announced to sit at 11 o’clock.  His Lordship, however, did not sit until after 12 o’clock. Owing to the erratic sitting of the court a large number of barristers and solicitors were not in attendance at…

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ADR Irish Style, Pre-1850

From the Kentish Gazette, 5 February 1850: “A famous duellist challenged an Irish barrister, for some remark made by the barrister when the duellist was giving his testimony on the stand in an important case. The barrister knew precisely as much about fighting as a fancy boxer knows about Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost.’ His friends told…

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Young Bar Protest Against Judicial Unpunctuality, 1919

From the Belfast Telegraph, 2 December 1919: “Some judges and junior barristers acted a little comedy in the Four Courts yesterday. When Judge Samuels had disposed of some appeals, he left Court No 1… some 12 junior barristers having motions to move became impatient and left the Court, informing the Registrar that he could tell…

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A Railway Mystery, 1905

From the Irish Independent, 2 June 1905: “Mr John D Gerrard, BA BL, while travelling by the 6.45 p.m. train from Bray to Dublin on Wednesday evening was the victim of an accident which is still shrouded in mystery. Shortly after reaching Dundrum, Mr Gerrard leaned out the carriage window. Suddenly he received a heavy…

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Solicitor Caned in Four Courts Yard Over Missed Deed, 1846

From the Dublin Evening Post, 26 November 1846: “Mr Richard Hackett, solicitor, summoned Mr Michael Hackett, also solicitor, for assault. The complainant gave evidence that he was in the yard of the Four Courts [when] the defendant, in passing by, asked him to return him a deed. The complainant replied that the deed was not…

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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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Barrister Convicted of Knocker-Wrenching, 1870

From the Liverpool Courier and Commercial Advertiser, 12 May 1870 “George Carr, barrister… [was] charged with having wrenched off a knocker from the hall-door of the house 44 Dawson-Street between the hours of one and two o’clock on Tuesday… one of the constables observed the accused leaving a hotel in Dawson Street and then stand…

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The Lord Chief Justice-v-Anna Liffey, 1870-1875

The abatement of the cesspit below Court 3, while resolving, at least temporarily, olfactory issues specific to that court, served to expose – for want of any other criminal – the river Liffey herself as the source of that lingering bad odour still smelt, on warm summer days, in the courts surrounding the Round Hall.…

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Cab Driver Convicted of Overcharging a Barrister, 1895

From the Waterford Standard, 13 July 1895: “On Thursday last, at the City Police Court, a man named James Casey, a car-driver in the city, summoned by the Corporation for charging in excess of what was authorised by the Council. Mr E Feely BL, who was the witness in the case, said that on the…

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Mr Bushe Elopes, 1885

From the Weekly Freeman, 5 June 1886: “ARISTOCRATIC DIVORCE CASE FROM IRELAND. Mr. Gerald Brooke applied to have his marriage annulled in consequence of [his wife’s] infidelity with Mr. Seymour Bushe, barrister, Dublin… on Friday, 3rd October 1885, unfortunate unpleasantness arose about a comparatively insignificant tiff about a pet dog—at which the lady announced her…

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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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Junior Barrister Piqued by Omission of his Name from News Report, 1871

From the Freeman’s Journal, 19 June 1871: “TO THE EDITOR OF THE FREEMAN DEAR SIR – [D]uring the discussion before of the House of Commons of the Alliance Gas Bill, your reporter… has omitted both the names of Mr O’Hara and myself from the list of counsel retained against the bill. And further, in the report…

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Acid Attack on Solicitor Charged with Indecent Assault, 1884

From the Belfast News-Letter, 14 March 1884: “Miss Lillie Tyndall, a young lady of prepossessing appearance, the daughter of a well-to-do farmer outside Arklow [was] charged with having thrown a bottle of… vitriol into the face of [Mr John Kelly Toomey, a well-known solicitor]. [Information sworn by Mr Toomey, from hospital] Lillie Tyndall came to…

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Sailing Fatalities among the Irish Bar, 1872-1907

From the Belfast News-Letter, 21 July 1898: “Kingstown regatta opened today in ideal weather – bright sunshine and a fair sailing breeze… Sympathy was felt for Mr Justice Boyd, whose fine yacht, Thalia, was competing, while he himself, anxious to be on board, had to sit administering justice in the Four Courts… between four executive…

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Fighting over Girls in the Yard, 1836

From the Dublin Morning Register, 20 December 1836: “Garret Moran and James Doolin, two nice-looking young lads, were next brought up, charged with drunkenness and disturbing the peace. The watchman stated that he found them fighting in the yard of the Four Courts. Moran declared that he had a situation there, and could go in…

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First Law Library Ended by Typhoid and Solicitors, 1894

The Christmas of 1893 was a very sad one for the Law Library. It started in early December when no less than nine members of the Bar went down with typhoid. This was quickly followed by the news that one of the afflicted, Martin Burke QC, had lost his battle with the disease and passed…

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Sumptuous Connaught Bar Dinner, 1831

From the Freeman, 7 November 1831: “Dinner to Stephen Woulfe, Esquire, Assistant Barrister: The solicitors practising in this district invited our learned and impartial Assistant Barrister to a sumptuous dinner at Kilroys on Saturday last. Every luxury of the season was served up in the best style, and the wines, which were of the choicest…

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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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The Irish Barrister’s Dead Sweetheart’s Belongings, 1900

From the Freeman’s Journal, 7 March 1900, and the Islington Gazette, 5 March 1900: “At the Clerkenwell County Court, Mrs Dorcas Poyntz sued Miss Rosita Tennyson, an actress, for £25.12s, the value of goods formerly belonging to her daughter, Evaline Poyntz, who had been visiting Miss Tennyson at the date of her death, and which…

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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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Led to be Bled: The Painful Duty of Junior Counsel, 1899

From the Freeman’s Journal, 19 August 1899: “The shooting of Dreyfus’s Counsel, Maitre Labori, reminds a writer in the ‘Liverpool Post’ that members of the Bar in England, and still more in this country, have from time to time been called upon to defend their forensic opinions and actions by an appeal to arms. A…

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The Terrifying Tale of the Tipstaff’s Niece, 1835

The following story worthy of Dickens, or perhaps Wilkie Collins, was reported in the Dublin Morning Register, 4 September 1835, and the Leeds Times, 19 September 1835: “[Margaret Feltis], who is only 17 years of age, was left an orphan, and taken [in} by her uncle… a man of excellent character, of the name of…

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Briefless Barristers as Marriage Prospects, 1870

From the Freeman’s Journal, 31 May 1870: “SIR – Can you kindly inform me why business people possess no social position in Dublin? This evil has increased latterly, commencing at the public school, where the children of a respectable trader are despised by those of professionals, whose parents inculcate the doctrine, considering it infra dig…

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Gallant Liffey Rescue by Solicitor, 1872

From the Freeman’s Journal, 12 August 1872: “At about 3 o’clock on Saturday afternoon a man, who apparently was under the influence of drink, leaped across the boundary wall into the Liffey, nearly opposite the Four Courts. His position was extremely perilous as the tide was pretty full, and it seemed clear that unless prompt…

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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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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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Lord Norbury’s Playground: Court 2, 1800-1827

From the Morning Post, 2 November 1827, this account of civil trials before Lord Norbury, Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas, published shortly after his resignation at the advanced age of 87: “The performances of Lord Norbury, in the Court of Common Pleas, were greatly preferable, in the decline of the Dublin stage, to…

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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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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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The Affair of the White Waistcoat, 1899

From the Belfast Telegraph, 17 June 1899: “Yesterday, in the Four Courts, Dublin, in the course of a trial, Lord Chief Justice O’Brien observed that one of the Queen’s Counsel appeared in a white waistcoat, which was not professional costume. The MacDermot QC, leading counsel for the Corporation (who, by the way, holds the old…

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The Devil’s Own, or, the Bar and the Boers, 1900

From the Freeman’s Journal, 22 February 1900: “We have never been quite able to understand why the Four Courts has not raised a ‘Devil’s Own’ Corps for service in the present war. It was not that there were not plenty of juniors and others, with sufficient leisure for soldiering, nor yet was it that business…

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Lawyer Relieved of Silk Handkerchief by Female Cutpurses, 1818

From the Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser, 7 March 1818 “A few days since, a Professional Gentleman, on his return from the Four Courts, was accosted in D’Olier Street, Dublin, by two females, who said “Sir, some dirty people have put filth upon your coat,” and offered very obligingly to remove it with their handkerchiefs,…

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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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Whacksation of Costs, 1848

From the Cork Examiner, 14 June 1848: “A fracas took place yesterday morning in the Four Courts between two professional gentlemen. The circumstance caused a good deal of conversation during the day. The facts appeared as follows:- A solicitor of eminence lately had a medical gentleman as a client. The latter some time since left…

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The Problem of Paging Barristers, 1846

From Saunders’s Newsletter, 20 November 1846: “SIR- In consequence of the numerous complaints by respectable solicitors against the present system of calling barristers’ names at the door of the library, and the uncertainty in which inquirers leave the ante-room, after suffering ten minutes’ crushing among clerks, idlers, &c., when the return of non est is…

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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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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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A Shortened Period of Apprenticeship, 1836

In the Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent, 3 November 1836, we find an account of a young man’s application to be admitted as a solicitor despite having served less than the standard five years’ apprenticeship: “COURT OF EXCHEQUER [today’s Court 3]: Mr Jackson KC applied on behalf of Henry Merrick, praying that he be admitted…

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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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Solicitors Meet to Discuss the General Impossibility of Barristers, 1843

From the Freeman’s Journal, 29 November 1843, this account of an early Solicitors’ Society meeting: “The secretary read the… steps that had been taken [to prevent] the inconvenience of the solicitors being required by the bar to convey books from the Law Library… [T]he committee had written to Mr Dixon, father of the Bar, to…

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Court Documents Stolen for Possible Sale as Toilet Paper, 1860

From the Evening Freeman, 27 February 1860: “Bessie Birmingham… employed for sweeping a portion of the offices at the Four Courts, Matthew Campbell and Philip Keely were brought up in custody… charged with having stolen and sold a number of valuable parchment and paper documents from one of the offices of the Court of Exchequer……

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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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The Bigamist Barrister, 1846

From the Liverpool Mail, 18 April 1846: “At Dublin, on Saturday, the trial of Mr Henry Augustus Browne, barrister, for bigamy took place in the Commission Court… Mr Browne is a remarkably well-looking man of about 24 or 25 years of age… a prime favourite with his brethern at the Bar. The prosecutor was Mr…

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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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Case Citations and Personal Law Libraries, pre-1836

From the Freeman’s Journal, 1 September 1890: “Modern text books now enable practitioners to dispense with much memorised learning laboriously acquired in former days… Within the recollection of men still living the library at the Four Courts did not exist, and it was considered a breach of etiquette to bring a law book into court,…

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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 Litigant who became a Barrister, 1853

From Saunders’ Newsletter, 3 July 1853: “The spectator in the Hall of the Four Courts may, if it pleases, sometimes see, in his costume, a tall, portly looking young man whose history is about as romantic as that of any learned gentleman in the Four Courts. Mr Wall… before his admission to the Bar… was…

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Long Hours for Law Clerks, 1865

From the Freeman’s Journal, 13 May 1865: “The general half-year meeting of the Attorneys and Solicitors’ Society was held yesterday in the Solicitors Hall, Four Courts [now the Law Library]… to consider the propriety of giving a half-holiday each Saturday to their employees. Mr Molloy observed that the early closing movement had been carried out…

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The Lord Chief Justice’s Phantom Coach, 1803-

The position of Lord Chief Justice, accorded to the most senior judge of the Queen’s Bench, did not bring good luck to the first such office-holder to sit in Court 1. Lord Kilwarden, by all accounts a decent and humane man, was set upon, stabbed and killed in 1803 while driving to a Privy Council…

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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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Barrister’s Spouse Violated by Briefing Solicitor, 1842

From the Galway Vindicator and Connaught Advertiser, 20 April 1842: “Mr Robert Caldwell, a respectable attorney, was… charged with having… attempted by force to violate Anne Corbet, the wife of Mr Edward Lestrange Corbet, barrister. Mrs Corbet… deposed that she met Mr Caldwell for the first time in Sept.1840…  Mr Caldwell then sent some law…

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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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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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Do Not Covet a Barrister’s Wife, 1862

From the Usk Observer, 19 July 1862: “The Dublin papers announce the death of a person named Sterne, who had been imprisoned for debt in the Four Courts Marshalsea for 36 years. Mr Sterne was a gentleman of large fortune… a gentleman of fashion as well as a ‘fast’ man about town. The most remarkable…

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The Wandering Law Library Ventilator, 1879

From the Northern Whig, 4 July 1879: “Today, about one o’clock, the glass dome, with heavy leaden ventilator in the centre of the Consultation Room, adjoining the Library in the Four Courts, fell in with a great smash, strewing the floor beneath with broken glass and smashed sashes. The ventilator, three feet high and more…

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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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Unacceptable Sanitary and Timekeeping Arrangements, 1874

From the Freeman’s Journal, 13 October 1874: “The Barristers’ Library is a crying disgrace… Barristers “look up” their cases in the Library, and also use it as a “trysting place” for meeting Attorneys. The Library is a room utterly unfit for the purpose to which it is devoted. It is not half large enough to…

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A Judicial Levee in a Haunted House, 1901

From the Belfast Newsletter, 15 April 1901: “Tomorrow the Easter sittings in the High Court begin, and according to old time ceremonial, Easter marks the beginning of the legal as it does the Christian year. So the Lord Chancellor Lord Ashbourne holds a levee at his residence, 12 Merrion Square in his gorgeous robes of…

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Young Bar Fracas, 1829

From the Belfast Newsletter, 6 November 1829: “On Saturday morning, at four o’clock, Mr Scully, the barrister, accompanied by Mr Blake, of Galway, and his brother-in-law, Mr R. Browne, were taking oysters, in Duke Street, Dublin, and entered into conversation with the Rev. Mr Grady, Mr Armstrong and Mr C. Browne. The parties were not,…

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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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The Law Librarian’s Office Burgled, 1857

From the Belfast News-Letter, Monday 23 February 1857: “The morning of Saturday the 21st has proved an eventful one in the life of Mr Delany, the respected librarian of the Four Courts. Sacrilegious thieves had, on the previous night, entered ni et armis into his sanctum sanctorum, and endeavoured to appropriate, to their own uses,…

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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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The Unwitting Dining Companions, 1784

From the Dublin Morning Register, 23 February 1838, an interesting account of barrister-solicitor relations from the previous century, involving John Scott, Lord Clonmell (‘Copperface Jack’), John Fitzgibbon, Earl of Clare (‘Black Fitzgibbon’) and an unnamed impoverished solicitor: “An anecdote of Fitzgibbon and Scott was related to the writer by a gentleman who knew the fact.…

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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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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 First Law Library, 1850

The 1830 Law Library* formerly situate in the upper airspace of today’s Supreme Court was lit almost wholly from the roof – an elegant arrangement which, on at least one occasion, threatened not only the Bar’s safety but, even worse – its dignity! As reported in the Dublin Weekly Mail (20 April 1850): “A most…

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The Gambling Devil, 1836

For young 19th century lawyers not yet able to afford their own carriages, the daily trip to the Four Courts not only posed health and safety risks but also – in circumstances where it was impossible to reach Inns Quay without passing at least one of the numerous gambling dens or ‘hells’ encircling it –…

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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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A ‘Seduction’ and its Consequences, 1830

A tragic story from the Pilot, 12 April 1830: “On Friday a child only about fourteen years old, and small for her age, appeared before the magistrates at College Street Police-office, to charge an unfortunate associate in crime with having taken two shillings from her the previous night. When questioned about her connection with the…

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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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Barrister Kills Solicitor, Becomes Attorney-General, 1814

Regrettable personal differences often arise between Irish barristers and solicitors. Fortunately, not all end as tragically as this dispute reported in the London Courier & Evening Gazette of 19 February 1814:- “On Saturday evening… a meeting took place on the Strand in Sandymount, between [recently qualified barrister] Counsellor Hatchell and Mr Morley… an eminent attorney.…

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Barrister-Barrister Shooting, 1815

In addition to shooting solicitors they did not agree with, early Irish barristers also occasionally settled by force of arms disputes between themselves. One example is reported in the Dublin Correspondent, 9 May 1815: “In consequence of some warm language which passed in the Four Courts yesterday, between Messrs Wallace and O’Gorman, two Gentlemen of…

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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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Solicitor’s Spouse Springs Prisoner from the Marshalsea, 1850

If you were to find yourself in a 19th century Victorian cab, driving through Dublin, where would you direct the driver to go? The Four Courts of course! Be careful, though, to check your pocket for your fare, or you might end up at the other Four Courts – the Four Courts Marshalsea – where…

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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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Barristers’ Bags Stolen and Recovered, 1853

From the Freeman’s Journal, 7 June 1853: “A man named John Whitaker was… charged with having stolen a large number of briefs and a law book the property of Messrs. Robinson, QC, Robert Owen Lawson, JF Martley and McCarthy, barristers. It appeared that a person named McDonnell had been employed by several barristers to carry…

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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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