‘Our Judges:’ Critiquing 24 Sitting Irish Judges, 1889-90

Though the grounds and means of complaint may have changed over time, there is nothing new about criticism of Irish judges.

As far back as 1826, one Daniel O’Connell petitioned for the removal of Lord Norbury, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, on the ground that he was 85, afflicted with deafness, and lethargic stupor which rendered him entirely unfit for discharging the duties of his office, as he frequently fell asleep during the most important trials.

Throughout the 19th century, almost read more

Judge Gets the Boot on his First Day in Court, 1890

From the New Ross Standard, 18 January 1890:

Judge Hickson’s first experience of judicial life has been rather perilous, but he exhibited great nerve and self-possession. The practice of throwing slippers after a married couple on their wedding day ‘for luck’ is on the decline, as, however friendly the motive, the act was attended with some risk. It was not for luck, however, that a man named Finerty, from the dock at Tullamore on Thursday, inaugurated the judicial read more

Future Supreme Court Judge Unsuccessfully Sued for Negligent Driving, 1924

From the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 4th and 5th March, 1924:

Miss May McConnon, a typist, residing at the Gaelic Hotel, Blackrock, Dundalk, claimed £3000 damages against Mr Cecil Lavery, barrister-at-law, for personal injuries caused, as alleged, by the negligence of the defendant in the management of a motor car near Dundalk.

The Plaintiff gave evidence, in which she stated that she was getting off her bicycle near Hearty’s cottages on the main road between Dublin and Dundalk, in order to read more

Legal Monkeys Hire Organ-Grinders to Disrupt Judge’s Party, 1846-66

Not the actual party.

From the Derry Journal, 28 June 1909:

“The recent successful campaign against the street organ-grinders in securing that persons who disliked it should not be annoyed by street music recalls a practical joke played on a learned Judge through the medium of organ-grinders in Dublin.  Mr T.B.C. Smith, who was Irish Master of the Rolls from 1846 until 1866, a gentleman of atrabilious temperament, to whom O’Connell affixed the soubriquets of ‘Vinegar Smith’ and ‘Alphabet Smith,’ read more

To Catch a Thief, 1892

From the Belfast News-Letter, 3 November 1892:


Judge Boyd distinguished himself by catching a young thief in flagrante delicto. Passing through Kildare Street, his attention was attracted to some newsboys besetting a lady. One boy was on her right, and the other on her left hand. As the boy on her left pressed her to buy a paper which he held up before her eyes, the boy on her right stole a paper parcel out of her pocket. The learned judge caught the young thief read more

Judicial Coach Hijacked by Helpful Ennis Local, 1902

From the Westminster Gazette, 10 April 1902:

The Ennis representative of the Freeman’s Journal tells a delightful story of young Ireland.  At Ennis the Assizes were held by Lord Chief Justice O’Brien and Mr Justice Johnson.  At the Courthouse door there drew up in the usual course the High Sheriff’s carriage to bring home the judges, with the usual accompaniment of footmen, mounted escort, trumpeter and so on, ‘all very grand,’ as the story book says.

It unfortunately read more

Judge Calls Women’s Fashion the Ruin of the Country, 1895

From the Sheffield Daily Telegraph , 5 January 1894:

“The Kilrush correspondent of the ‘Freeman’s Journal’ says:

At the Quarter Sessions here yesterday a milliner brought an action against a pension for goods supplied to his daughter, who is now in America.  His Honour Judge Kelly said women were the ruin of the country.  Nothing pleased women nowadays but those extraordinary fashions comprising parasols, petticoats, feathers and all this ludicrous headgear which read more

A Noise Sensitive Judge at the Cork Assizes, 1864

From the Belfast Weekly News, 6 August 1864


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 week is thoroughly disgraceful – principally the clapping of doors and the clapping of seats.  I never heard anything like it.  I have been many years on read more

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 two members of the B division in plain clothes, and two army pensioners also in mufti.  On reaching Leinster Street, the judge kept the house side, and the read more

A Stolen Judicial Lunch Goes Viral, 1912

From the Derry Journal, 21 February 1912:


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 of pouring out a cup of tea for himself.  The attendant promptly seized him, and brought him out into the passage adjoining the chamber, leaving the culprit read more