A Visit to the 1890 Law Library

In 1890, Irish Society (Dublin) decided, with the help of one ‘A M’Lud,’ to give its readers a day out in the Four Courts. The first part of the ensuing visit, featured here, took us to the Round Hall. Today, we accompany ‘M’Lud,’ a practising barrister, to the original Law Library located just behind. M’Lud’s piece gives us an intimate picture of the final read more

A Day in the Four Courts, 1890

From Irish Society (Dublin), 8 November 1890:



For those who cannot spare time for a corporeal visit to the Temple of Justice, let them come with me now in spirit, and I will be their guide, philosopher, and friend in an imaginary personally-conducted tour through the noble pile of buildings in Inns Quay, which forms the material home and domicile of Irish law.

Let us be at the courts by a quarter to eleven of the clock, and read more

The Four Courts as a Sightseeing Destination, 1816-1919

The interior of the Four Courts might not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking of a tourist destination, but once upon a time it was unmissable for sightseers visiting Dublin. J & W Gregory’s ‘Picture of Dublin’ (1816) describes the ‘new’ Courts of Justice as ‘one grand pile of excellent architecture’ and the read more

The Dome(s) of the Four Courts, 1785-2020

The original Record Office designed for the Four Courts site by Thomas Cooley did not include a dome, but Cooley’s early death in 1784 coincided with an official decision to expand his design to include the Irish Four Courts, previously situate at Christchurch. His successor James Gandon achieved this by incorporating a central hall at the front of Cooley’s partly built pile, and crowning it with not one but two domes, one on top of the other, with a void between containing a large read more

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 in the press, with the next day’s Irish Times describing the new premises as

a splendid building, in which there have been provided tables, desks and chairs affording seating accommodation for 263 members of the Bar… It may be said that never before in the history of Ireland was the Bar of Ireland so magnificently provided for as this fine new library, read more

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 4 percent of water.

Mr W J Sheridan, solicitor, for defendant, said he admitted the fact.  His client was totally unable to account for it.  He got his whisky from Jameson’s.  read more

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:


Yesterday was a day of some excitement amongst the barristers at the Four Courts owing to the fact that the allotment of seats in the new Law Library was begun by the Librarian, Mr Robbins.  Owing to the extraordinary omission to provide any read more

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…  built in 1830, in recent years the complaints against it had become so persisting and so loud that the members of the Bar proceeded to promote a bill in Parliament for read more

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 the ridiculously young age of 42. In 1874, everyone was more concerned with the general Liffey stench and, in any event, Palles was perfectly healthy.

The death of at least one previous read more

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 on at his residence in Baggot Street.

The tragic death of this very young and popular silk of exceptional musical talent resulted in a belated realisation that the then Law Library premises – a read more