The Bells of St Bartholomew’s and Serjeant William Bennett Campion, 1882-1907

St Bartholomew’s Church, Clyde Road, Dublin, via Postcards Ireland

From the Freeman’s Journal, 9 February 1924:


In the first days of a New Year, we find ourselves chatting of joybells. It seldom occurs to the present generation of Dubliners that our local peal of bells has figured in anything but joyous litigation, and in the old Four Courts too. The story is told in the Memoirs of William Bennett Campion, Serjeant-at-Law. Shortly after the erection of the bells of read more

Discoveries at the Four Courts Bookstalls, 1796-1886

The Four Courts, 1885, by Walter Frederick Osborne, via Irish Art Digital Archive. Can you spot the bookstalls? A zoom in may help, or alternatively there is a larger version of the image at the link above.

From the Freeman’s Journal, 19 February 1921:


Reminiscences of Dublin’s Old Book Stores

(By M. M. O’H.)

The old bookshops of Dublin! What a vista of pleasant thoughts they create.  What delightful experiences of eager prowlings round their shelves, of unexpected ‘finds,’ of surprising bargains, of staunch friends acquired at trifling cost, of jostlings with ardent book-hunters – poets and prosewriters, judges, doctors, artists, musicians, a formidable read more

The Barrister and the ‘Charley,’ c.1780

‘A Brace of Public Guardians,’ by Thomas Rowlandson, via the Met Museum.

From the Irish Independent, 12 November 1907, this fantastic piece on ‘The Charleys,’ or the Old Dublin Watch, by D.J.M. Quinn, with an amusing story in its last paragraph about how an eminent and somewhat officious ‘gentleman of the wig and gown’ of times past found himself magnificently outwitted by a ‘Charley’ he had sought to reprimand:




Could the good citizen, who, gazing today on the stalwart form of the Dublin Metropolitan policeman as read more

A Objectionable Dress, 1909

Miss Minnie Cunningham, as depicted in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 24 May 1890.

From the Donegal Independent, 14 May 1909 and the Irish News and Belfast Morning News, 8 May 1909:


The jury in the Nisi Prius Court, Dublin failed to agree to a verdict in an action brought by Miss Minnie Cunningham, burlesque actress, against two companies owning theatres in Dublin and Belfast, and were discharged.

Miss Cunningham had been engaged to play the principal girl in the pantomime of ‘Jack and Jill’, which was produced last Christmas season in Belfast and read more

The Tall Hat as Mandatory Off-Duty Legal Wear, 1800-1934

Irish barrister and politician Daniel O’Connell, popularly known as ‘the Liberator’, wears a top hat on his release from prison in 1844. O’Connell’s top hat was iconic, but other Irish barristers and solicitors would have been similarly attired on their daily journeys to and from the Four Courts. Image via Alamy.

From the Freeman’s Journal, 5 February 1916:



(Before Mr Justice Pim)

The plaintiff, Kate Mullen, brought an action to recover from the defendant, John Lemass, £90, arrears of rent due out of premises at 15 Usher’s quay.  The defendant pleaded surrender, and that he was entitled to certain deductions for rates and taxes, and that the rent had been reduced by £3 by agreement many years ago. 

When the case was called, Mr C.S. Campbell (instructed read more

There and Gone: Pill Lane, The Vanished Street Behind the Four Courts (Part 1)

A mid-18th century Pill Lane as mapped by Rocque

A street once there, now gone, can provoke more curiosity than one still paved and passable, and it is impossible for those who know about the vanished route of Pill Lane not to wonder, when traversing the portions of the Four Courts and Chancery Street over which it once passed, about how this street might have looked in the past. 

This post seeks to tell the first part of Pill Lane’s story.

For those unfamiliar with the history of the general area surrounding the Four Courts, the best read more

A Curious Career, 1901

From the Enniscorthy Guardian, 7 December 1901, this Edwardian version of ‘Catch Me if You Can’ with a young Derryman playing the role of Frank Abagnale:





A Derry man whose name was given as Robert Schumberg Long, though his title to Schumberg is doubtful, was charged at Shillelagh Petty Sessions on Tuesday with the larceny of a considerable number of articles from the warehouse read more

A Poet and Inventor’s Last Will, 1906

From the Nottingham Journal, 17 December 1906:


The extraordinary will of a Dublin poet, which was made as far back as 1882, was before Mr Justice Barton on Friday, when an action was brought to have the estate of Henry Edward Flynn administered.

The deceased, who had lived at ‘The Retreat’, Ranelagh, County Dublin, and died in 1884, having given various directions in his will as to his property and directed that out of the proceeds read more

Attorney’s Apprentice Eschews Physical Combat in favour of Private Prosecution, 1821

Taste a la Mode, or the Rotunda Gardens in 1790, via The Dictionary of Dublin (1908)

From Saunders’s News-Letter, 10 July 1821:


Yesterday the Recorder, Aldermen Tyndall, Montgomery, and Hamilton, sat at the Sessions House, Green Street, for the trial of prisoners and traversers.

Edward Callanan, Esq, a traverser, was put to the bar, charged with having, on Friday evening the 22nd of June last, assaulted Stephen Blake, Esq, who, being swore and examined by Mr Finlay, stated that, on the evening laid in the indictments, he was walking in the read more

The Lion, the Unicorn, the Harp and the Little Knobule, 1931-2023

Every bit of the Four Courts has a story and the sculptures over the entrances into the grassed courtyards on either side of the portico are no exception.

Originally depicted with some artistic licence in early illustrations of the Four Courts, the 19th century camera (which never lies) show these sculptures as in fact depicting a lion and a unicorn surrounding a harp surmounted by a crown – the British crown, in fact, with read more