A Robbery at the White Cross Inn, 1814

The New White Cross Inn, directly behind the Rolls Court and Record Court of the original Four Courts; now part of the extended Four Courts site.

From Saunders’s News-Letter, 11 October 1814:

“A few days since a Welshman of the name of Owen Thomas, came to lodge at the White Cross Inn, Pill Lane, where a Mr Donald McKay, from Aughnacloy, likewise took up his abode. They had been but a few days residents of this Inn, when the North Countryman found his cash diminished upwards of ten pounds.

On investigation, some circumstances were disclosed which led to a suspicion that Owen Thomas knew something of the matter; he was accordingly read more

Woman-on-Woman* Fight Behind the Four Courts Reduces Combatants’ Clothes to Ribbons, 1879

As this illustration of a female fight shows, there was a long tradition of female fighting in the vicinity of the Four Courts. Image via Trinity College Digital Collections.

From the Leeds Times, 4 January 1879:

“A disgraceful scene was witnessed the other day in Greek-street, Dublin, near the police courts, where two women engaged in a fierce contest, surrounded by a ring of male and female backers.  They scratched, pummelled, and tore one another for fully an hour, the fight being artfully suspended on two occasions when a constable appeared.  Each had possessed herself of a large portion of her antagonist’s hair, their forms were nearly naked, read more

British Soldiers Routed by Dublin Amazons, 1871

British soldiers in Dublin, from John F Finerty’s ‘Ireland in Pictures,‘ 1898

From the Freeman’s Journal, via the Western Mail, 11 September 1871:

During Tuesday last the locality of Pill Lane was considerably excited by a collision which occurred between a party of military and a number of the females gathered in the neighbourhood of the police courts. A soldier, absent without leave, was supposed to live in a house in the lane, and a picket of his regiment went in search of the fugitive. They attempted to enter the house, but were confronted by several read more

Served up on a Staffordshire Platter: The Four Courts, c.1820

A blue transfer-printed Staffordshire china platter, with a central scene depicting the Four Courts, c.1820.

Perhaps originally part of some barrister’s dining set? Now in New England.

Some details below (zoom in closer here).

(1) A very early view of Morgan Place at the side of the courts.

(2) White-trousered gentlemen, possibly sailors? The couple should keep an eye on that dog – pets were regularly stolen on the quays.

(3) The very new Richmond Bridge in the distance. Track its evolution read more

As It Was: Images of the Inns Quay/Arran Quay Junction, 1753-present

This fantastic map from the Dublin City Council Digital Archive (minutely zoomable version available to download here) shows the junction of Inns Quay and Arran Quay in 1790, not long before the opening of the Four Courts on the old Inns of Court site close by.

The bridge appearing on the map is the Old Bridge of Dublin, replaced in 1818 by today’s Father Mathew (formerly Whitworth) Bridge. But what are those clusters of buildings on either side?

According to Liffey read more

As It Was: Images of 145-151 Church Street, 1860 to date

This beautifully coloured image below, from Dublin City Digital Archive, shows the rear portion of the Law Library Distillery Building, 145-151 Church Street, when it really wasa distillery, owned by John Jameson & Co. You can zoom in on it even more closely here.

Jameson acquired the site 145-51 Church Street in 1911 and almost immediately demolished a considerable portion of the existing buildings on the site. The Distillery was then extended onto most of the now-vacant site.

Sadly, the read more

Inns Quay Before Áras Uí Dhálaigh: Images of the Four Courts Hotel

Some photos showing a 1960s/70s Inns Quay, from the Dublin City Digital Archive. This one from Dublin City Digital Archive shows the Four Courts Hotel in place of today’s Áras Uí Dhálaigh.

William Mooney’s close-up of the hotel in the 1960s. Mr Mooney’s comprehensive photo archive of Dublin is accessible to all through Dublin City Digital Archive. We owe him a debt of gratitude!

Another photo of Inns Quay by William Mooney, via Dublin read more

A Place of Trees: Dublin 7, 1066-1750

From Country Life, 1903:

“Though Ireland is now perhaps the worst wooded country of Europe, it at one time was rich in forests.  Before the invasion of the English, splendid woods were to be found round Eblana, as Dublin was then called.  The fair green of Oxmantown was once covered with woods that extended westward over the whole of what is now the Phoenix Park, that William Rufus drew the timber for the roof of Westminster Hall, where, as the chronicle of Dr. Hanmer has read more

Inquest in 158 Church Street After Unexpected Courtship Tragedy, 1858

From the Weekly Freeman’s Journal, 25 December 1858:


On Sunday night last one of the most distressing melancholy accidents that could well occur took place by which a respectable young man of the name of Michael Murphy, son of Mr Laurence Murphy, Ironmonger, of Church Street lost his life.  The deceased, who bore a very high character, was betrothed to a young lady named Mary Lawler, residing at Buckingham Street, and was to have been married within a month. read more

Lord Leitrim’s Hearse Attacked by Mob in Church Street, 1878

From the Irishman, 13 April 1878:


The remains of the late Earl of Leitrim arrived at St Michan’s Cemetery, Church Street, Dublin, about half-past two o’clock.  When the remains came into Church-Street the hearse was surrounded by two or three hundred persons, mostly comprised of the middle and lower classes.  On the funeral cortege coming to a halt a scene of great disorder was witnessed, popular feeling being strongly manifested by the crowd, who pushed, read more

In the Footsteps of Kings: Chancery Place, 1224-1916

Chancery Place, on the eastern side of the Four Courts, was originally a much narrower street known as Mass Lane.  The buildings on its western side sat close against the eastern wing of the Four Courts until they were demolished by the Commissioners of Public Works in the early 19th century. The above image from the 1840s shows Chancery Place following these changes and – aside from differences in vehicles, costume, and traffic regulation, and the replacement of the perimeter wall read more

The Brats of Mountrath Street, 1867-1890

From the Freeman’s Journal, 27 May 1867:


Dear Sir-

I beg, through the medium of your influential journal, to call the attention of the authorities to an assemblage of ill-behaved boys and girls that meet nightly at the corner of the above mentioned localities, throwing stones and making use of the most obscene language to passers-by.  Whilst passing through Chancery-place from my business the other evening I was struck with a stone and cut severely.  read more

The ‘Cleansing’ of Bull Lane, 1878

From the Freeman’s Journal, 1 March 1879:

During the past few months, quietly and unknown to the general public, a work has been in progress in Dublin calculated to materially benefit the city.  By a judicious use of the authority vested in them and a rigid exercise of their legal powers, the police have succeeded in thoroughly cleansing that den of infamy, a disgrace known as Bull-Lane. 

The existence of this moral plague spot has been for very many years a shame to civilisation read more

The Goat of Morgan Place, 1881

From the Freeman’s Journal, 22 April 1882:


A fish dealer named Ennis was charged by Police Constable 69D with having stolen a goat, the property of Mr Alexander Blyth, Four Courts.  A workman named Michael Higgins, in the employment of the Board of Works, stated that he saw the prisoner take the goat away, which was grazing on the plot of grass near the law courts in Morgan Place, about twelve o’clock today.  Witness followed the prisoner and gave read more

The Fighting Herb Doctors of Church Street and Parnell Street, 1852

From the Freeman’s Journal, 4 May 1852:

“John McDonnell, of Church-Street, ‘herb doctor’ and ‘professor,’ appeared to sustain a complaint against Michael Gafney, ‘herb doctor and universal practitioner,’ for an alleged violent assault.

The complainant professing in this instance to have been assaulted was a low-sized dark visaged young man, rather decently attired, but his mode of stating his complaint at once evinced his contempt of the generally received system of education.

Both read more

The Cruel Master, 1778

A sad story tonight, from Saunders’ News-Letter, 30 January 1778, involving a murder and secret burial in the graveyard of St Michan’s Church next to the Law Library buildings at 158/9 Church Street.

“Last week one of those chimney sweepers who employ a number of boys or children, adapted in their size to the narrowest tunnel, brought a small creature to make his first effay in a chimney in Dirty-Lane, Thomas-Street; when the poor child attempted to ascend, a sudden fear seized him from read more

Beneath the East Wing: The Inns Quay Infirmary, 1728-89

The above image shows the site of the Four Courts as surveyed by John Roque in 1756, when it was still owned by the Benchers of the King’s Inns. You can see what is left of the old Priory/King’s Inns buildings on the far left. Much of the rest of the site has been built on – sometimes, but not always, with the permission of the Benchers.

The Charitable Infirmary started life in Cook Street in 1718, but soon ran out of space and was delighted to take up in 1728 an offer to move read more

The (Would-be) Serial Killer of Church Street, 1861

From the Belfast Morning News, 2 January 1861:

“Joseph Dwyer is now in custody on a charge of having made one of the most daring and diabolical attempts to deprive a fellow-creature of life, for the mere purpose of pecuniary gain, that perhaps the world ever heard of. A young man of simple appearance, scarcely to be known out of his own street, had taken a stable which he sought to convert into a slaughter-house and a cemetery.

The stable in question had been, it is said, in the possession read more

Cockfighting in Arran Square, 1844

From the Freeman’s Journal, 15 April 1844:

In consequence of a communication by the secretary for the prevention of cruelty, instructions were given to the police to look sharply after a cockfighting match about to come off in Hammond-Lane. The police proceeded to the place at the specified time, and the result was an introduction of twenty five persons to answer a charge having been present at, and encouraged the fight…

Mr Superintendent Selwood… proved that the cockfight read more

Armed Footpad Overpowered in Church Street, c. 1800

From the Freeman’s Journal, 30 January 1882:

A curious reminiscence of… old Dublin life turned up at one of the central [police] stations on Friday… [A]n old gentleman entered the station… and produced a small silver-mounted flint pistol, evidently of the last century… He said that he was most anxious to obtain a licence for the weapon, and… related the following story:-

His grandfather was a colonel in the East India Company’s service… read more

The Hammond Lane Explosion, 1878

From the Freeman’s Journal, 29 April 1878:

“On Saturday afternoon Dublin was startled and horrified by one of the most appalling accidents which has ever taken place in this metropolis – an accident by which no less than fourteen fellow creatures have lost their lives, and by which a dreadful amount of suffering, sorrow, misery and bereavement has been caused.

The scene of this awful occurrence was Hammond-Lane, a narrow laneway situated in the poor and populous district read more

Human Remains Beside the West Wing, 1834

From the Dublin Observer, 4 January 1834:

“Some workmen, employed in the course of the past week in sinking a sewer from the Four Courts to the river, in the course of their excavations discovered, at the depth of about two feet from the surface, and approaching the pallisading enclosing the upper yard from the flagway, a pavement in tolerably good preservation. On clearing this away, and sinking about 18 inches beneath it, they came on another pavement… About three feet under read more

Mob Attack, Inns Quay, 1830

For the Good Friday that’s in it, this story from Saunders’s News-Letter, 7 June 1830:-

“DESPERATE OUTRAGE – For some months past, a person of genteel appearance has appeared in the streets, in various parts of this city, preaching to people, and according to his notions, following the life of one of the first preachers of the Gospel. He has generally held a small edition of the Bible in his hand, occasionally read a verse from it, and commented on his reading. In read more

The Wigmaker of Arran Quay, 1862

The Dublin Correspondent of the Belfast Newsletter, 13 January 1862, writes:

“I should chronicle the departure to his rest of a worthy and venerable citizen of Dublin, who saw in his time many an opening day of Term, and whose richly-stored memory was fraught with numberless anecdotes of the Irish Bar in its palmiest days, and of the old Four Courts in the Cathedral Close, where his career as wigmaker to the courts commenced some seventy-seven years ago.

Mr Peter Lavallee, to whom I allude, read more

The Bridge That Never Was, 1802

Saunders’s News-Letter of 31 December 1802 reported that

“[t]here is… a talk of casting a very broad bridge over the river in front of the Four Courts, which shall form an open area equal to the extent of the building; there will afford an opportunity to our architects of showing their genius by making various designs.”

A bridge in front of the new Four Courts certainly made sense from an aesthetic point of view. However, on 16 May 1808, a letter was published in the same read more