Two Tragic Barrister Trip and Falls at Wilton Place, 1882-1911


The Grand Canal, Dublin, at Wilton Place, between Baggot Street and Leeson Street Bridge, by Edward Tomkins, via

From the Clonmel Chronicle, 20 December 1882:


The body of the late Mr. Robert Donnell BL was discovered in the Grand Canal, in the immediate vicinity of Leeson-Street Bridge, yesterday morning. It is believed that the unfortunate gentleman accidentally fell into the water and drowned. The previous afternoon he left his residence, at Stephen’s read more

The Dangers of Wedding an Improvident Bride, 1832-1849

The French towns of Boulogne or Calais were the places of exile of choice for financially improvident Irish barristers. The subject of this post chose Calais (above, via Northwind Prints).

From Saunders’s News-Letter, 19 January 1837:

The Dowager Lady Ventry died at her lodgings last evening. The demise of this unfortunate lady will, we hope, enable a respectable citizen and a barrister of great standing and practice, to resume his station in society, and entitle him again to take his place in his profession – Mr Fitzgibbon Henchy. This gentleman’s marriage with Lady Ventry, which made him liable for engagements of hers to an enormous amount, and of read more

Eight Days in a Lifeboat for Author of Indispensable Irish Criminal Law Text Torpedoed off Africa, 1941

Image via the Times

From the Irish Examiner, 3 November 1941:

After eight days in a lifeboat, following the torpedoing off the West African coast of a Dutch ship in which he was travelling, Mr Robert Lindsay Sandes, a Dublin barrister who has been practising in South Africa for a number of years, was picked up and taken to Konakri, capital of French Guinea. He has now been handed over to officials of British Gambia, says the Associated Press. Mr Sandes, who was formerly well-know in Dublin legal read more

The Barrister Who Fell in Love With his Witness, 1908-1915

A photograph of Lord Justice Moriarty published in the Ballymena Telegraph, 8 May 1915, via British Newspaper Archive.

The character of Professor Moriarty in Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ stories may have been inspired by Doyle’s Stonyhurst classmate John Francis Moriarty, who subsequently went on to become an Irish barrister and judge of the Court of Appeal in Ireland.  Not only that, but he also became one of that small but select category of barristers who end up marrying one of their clients.

The Ballymena Weekly Telegraph of 8 May 1915, in an article published at the time of Moriarty’s read more

A Barrister’s Mysterious Death, 1844

Mist on Moylussa Mountain, Lough Derg,’ by Grace Mary Trench, via Whytes

From the Tipperary Vindicator, October 1844:


It is with feelings of intense sorrow we announce the death of this gentleman. His loss is a public one. It is one which, we fear, it will be difficult to supply. The detail of his melancholy fate – having met death by drowning on Saturday – appear in another part of our columns. The learned and lamented gentleman had not been long attached to this circuit; but, short as was the time, we never read more

Scouts say ‘Great Scott’ as Irish Barrister Repeatedly Risks Life in Breathtaking Powerscourt Waterfall Rescues, 1942-44

From the Irish Independent, 4 August 1942:

Hundreds of picnickers watched, in tense excitement, while a Dublin holiday-maker balanced himself for three hours on a ledge 200 feet up the rocky side of the famous Powerscourt waterfall yesterday until he was rescued by a Dublin barrister who was camping in Powerscourt for the weekend.

The man, Charles Kenny, 41 Donnycarney Road, who had cycled to Enniskerry with friends, had endeavoured to climb up the side of the waterfall with a camera.  read more

Irish Barrister Beheaded on Banks of Bosphorus, c.1825

Aivazovsky, View of Constantinople and the Bosphorus,1856, via Wikimedia Commons

From the Irish Independent, 17 June 1909:


In the early years of the nineteenth century one of the most popular favourites in Dublin Society was a barrister named William Norcott, whose identity is discreetly veiled under the initial ’N—-‘ by several chroniclers of the period.  He was the life and soul of every party; his wit was keenly relished, and his satirical powers enjoyed by all but the victims whose peculiarities read more

Irish Barrister Escapes Prison, Elopes to France in a Barrel, 1820

Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin, c.1800, from whence Mr Hodgens would certainly have taken ship to France, though whether in a barrel or not is debatable.

From the Weekly Irish Times, 26 April 1902:

“In the early years of the last century, a youthful barrister named Hodgins, just called to the bar, fell in love with a pretty girl he had noticed coming out of a fashionable boarding school in Mary Street. She smiled upon him, they managed in some way to become acquainted in spite of difficulties, and then he eloped with and married her. But ‘the course of true love never did run smooth.’ The young lady was an heiress, and a read more

Called to the Bar, June 1914

From the Irish Independent, 11 June 1914:

A grainier version of the above photo appears in the Freeman’s Journal of the same day, where the new barristers above are identified as Frederick Jerome Dempsey, Edward James Smyth, Samuel Spedding John, Thomas William Gillilan Johnson Hughes, Denis Bernard Kelly, Oliver L Moriarty, John Maher Loughnan, Isaac Roundtree, Ion George Wakely, Bernard Joshua Fox, John Henry de Burgh Shaw, Frederick William Callaghan, John McMahon, Edward Patrick McCarron, read more

Former British Intelligence Officer and Would-Be Barrister Drowns at North Wall, 1921

The scene of Mr Morrison’s death, via Dublin Port

From the Belfast Telegraph, 11 August 1921:


We regret to announce the death of Mr Frederick W Morrison, a native of Belfast, which took place under sad circumstances through drowning in Dublin. The deceased was a fine specimen of manhood, six feet high, and as clever as he was brave. In his eighteenth year, Mr Morrison was appointed to a commission from the service of the Bank of Ireland read more