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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 portico.

An account of one such incident is to be found in the Clonmel Herald of 10 December 1834:

“On Saturday, about three o’clock p.m., two coal porters in the last stage read more

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. Mr Morley fired first without effect, when his fire was returned by Mr H, and… the ball read more

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 the Bar, a meeting took place between them this morning, in Carton Demesne, the former attended by Mr Husband, and the latter read more

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 a motion for an attachment against the defendant, an attorney… The Lord Chief Justice observed that he did not see why Mrs Winter read more

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 technically termed ‘hall practice’. Some of the fugitives escaped into the Court of Exchequer, others ran for protection to the Rolls… The abrupt visitor, however, read more

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 debtors were sent for not paying their debts!

Sometimes the two institutions overlapped, with interesting results, as shown in this story from the Montrose Standard of 5 July 1850:

Mrs read more

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 (which may not occur again) of witnessing this rare assemblage of Natural productions – the admission for Ladies and Gentlemen read more

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 was so impressive as to merit the above illustration in the popular press.   Not only were the judicial means of transport slightly different from today, read more

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 their brief bags to the Four Courts every morning during term. Having called as usual some mornings since he got four of these bags into his care, and read more

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 Nicholas William Whyte, which stated, that he became acquainted with Miss Ormsby, about fourteen months ago, at Booterstown, and was introduced to her father and mother, read more