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The Four Courts – A Short History and Information for all

The Four Courts

The Four Courts is a significant historical attraction in Ireland.

The Four Courts is Ireland’s main court building. It deals with civil cases only. Before it also dealt with criminal cases but those were transferred indefinitely to the Criminal Courts by the Phoenix Park. It is the location of the Supreme Court, the High Court and Dublin’s Circuit Court. It is located along Inns Quay.

The construction of the building started in 1786 and ended in 1802. The design of the building was based of the work of Thomas Cooley. Thomas Cooley (1740–1784) was an English-born Irish architect who came to Dublin from London after winning a competition for the design of Dublin’s Royal Exchange in 1768. After his death in 1784, renowned architect James Gandon was left in charge of finishing the building.

During the 1916 Rising, Ned Daly and his first battalion took part in the most intense fighting in the areas around the Four Courts. The Courts themselves were used as the headquarters for the first battalion.

Part of the Courts was destroyed due to an explosion during the Irish Civil War. Republicans who opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty booby-trapped the Irish archives there which caused the explosion. Former Taoiseach Sean Lemass stated that the explosion was caused because of an accidental explosion as ammunition was being stored there. The legal documents that were contained here was lost forever. The State had no funds so they couldn’t bring the Courts back to the state that it was previously.

The Courts were reopened in 1932.

The Four Courts do not offer tours as it conducts legal matters. It is opened from 10-5. It can be opened up for longer due to emergency cases but a judge has to agree to stay there and take part in the session.

-Edward O’Neill 

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