Four Courts Dublin

Four Courts

Four Courts in Dublin are very attached to Ireland and its history.It’s one of the Top 10 historical Dublin attractions. There are few buildings in Dublin which are so much associated to the city’s culture and its history like the Four Courts.

The four courts Dublin is the main courts building of Ireland. Its situated on Inns Quay in Dublin. The Four Courts is building named thus because it houses four legal courts, namely the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Dublin Circuit Court and the High Court. As such, the building is a symbol of the law in Ireland. Until 2010, there was a fifth court, the Criminal Courts of Justice, but it has since been moved. It is said that the mark of a country’s strength is its courts. If that fact holds, then the Irish Four Courts only have great things to say about the country.

The Four Courts Dublin  is packed with symbolism about the different eras that it has survived. If you want to explore Dublin’s history and culture on your visit, go to the Four Courts. It should be one of your things to do in Dublin. Here are a few segments from the life of Four Courts. This knowledge should give you the proper contextual background, and it will help you to fathom and understand the significance of the building.

Four Courts Dublin

Actually, the building is named Four Courts because it originally held the four courts: Chancery, King’s Bench, Exchequer and Common Please. It is this factor that named the building. It was only after the Judicature Act of 1877 was passed that the legal system changed. The four courts were replaced by a Court of Appeal with a presiding Lord Chancellor and a High Court of Justice which would be presided by Lord Chief Justice.

There was another renewal of the legal system less than fifty years of the 1877 act. The Courts of Justice Act was passed in 1924, and it replaced the previous system with what we have today. The new system comprises of a Supreme Court with Chief Justice, and a reconstituted High Court, which is presided by the President of the High Court. It must on your list of what to do in Dublin.

Four Courts Architecture

The Four Courts in Dublin is an eighteenth-century building. It was originally designed by Thomas Cooley in 1776. The purpose of the construction was originally planned to be for the Public Records Office of Ireland. However, Cooley died in 1784 and never got to see his vision come to fruition. It was another popular architect: Gandon who was later appointed to finish the construction of the building. The work was elaborate and time taking. Though the main construction started on 1796 and finished by 1796, the finishing touches would take another four years. These finishing touches involved the final preparation of the arcades and the wings.

The Easter Rising and the Civil War

The Four Courts has had a history of turmoil and unrest. That sentiment reached its peak during the Easter Rising, when the courts and the surrounding areas were occupied by Edward Daly and his battalion during 1916. There ensued some of the goriest fights and battles of the Easter Week. The center and focus of attention was the Church Street, the North Brunswick Street and Nork King Street and the adjoining areas.  During these battles, the Four Courts served as headquarters for Edward Daly’s 1st Battalion.

The Easter Rising was a significant chapter in the history of Four Courts, but that was no match compared to the challenges that the Civil War had in store for the building and the institution. The IRA forces, which were opposed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty occupied the Four Courts. They were being led by Rory O’Connor. They were being chased after by the National Army. The National Army, on the fateful day of June 27, 1922, attacked Four Courts in an attempt to dislodge and draw out the IRA forces. What followed was a week of intense fighting. The building was bombarded by the National Army, and the original historic building was almost completely destroyed. The most tragic incident was the obliteration of the West Wing. The West Wing housed the Public Record Office, and with the explosion, a thousand year of archives were lost.

The Present Day at Four Courts Dublin

The courts, after their destruction in 1922 were gradually rebuilt and reopened in 1932. Although the engineers and the architects tried to rebuild as much of the old building as possible, there were several impediments along the way. Firstly, there were no records left, that could guide the architects about the minor details. Also, the government did not have sufficient funds to construct the interior properly. Some of the grandeur, the building has lost forever. The two wings were also rebuilt, but arguably, the greatest loss of the rebellion was not the structural damage but the obliteration of the public records which covered one thousand years of files and documents.

Visitors are welcome to visit the courts and see the Irish legal system in action. There is an information desk off the Round Hall. Tourists can not only get guiding booklets there, but they can also ask questions about the history of the building. The first floor also hosts a permanent exhibition. This exhibition serves as a walk through the history of Four Courts, all the legal systems it hosted and all the turmoil it faced. Two coffee shops are also installed for refreshments.

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Opening Hours

  • Monday09:00 - 18:00
  • Tuesday09:00 - 18:00
  • Wednesday09:00 - 18:00
  • Thursday09:00 - 18:00
  • Friday09:00 - 18:00

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