Unacceptable Sanitary and Timekeeping Arrangements, 1874

From the Freeman’s Journal, 13 October 1874:

“The Barristers’ Library is a crying disgrace… Barristers “look up” their cases in the Library, and also use it as a “trysting place” for meeting Attorneys. The Library is a room utterly unfit for the purpose to which it is devoted. It is not half large enough to accommodate comfortably the number of men who use it. Its arrangements for air, light and ventilation are abominable. Not a single one of the precautions which modern sanitation suggests have been taken to secure for its habitués that grand necessity of life, pure air, and in summer time the atmosphere is purely fetid.”


“In the Hall of the Four Courts there is a very fine clock. It is in the highest degree important for professional men having business in the Four Courts that they should be able to fix the time… by the public clock. A judge sits at eleven; a barrister has a motion for the sitting of the court; he is talking in the hall on business to a solicitor; it is convenient for him to look up at the clock and thus protract his conversation to the last minute. Well, the clock in the Four Courts Hall stopped some six months ago at 10.25, and there remained all through the summer… It is still stopped, but since last term, someone had moved the hands on to five minutes past twelve, at which figure we suppose it will remain for the balance of the year.”

Clearly the Irish Bar did not return in a very good mood from the Long Vacation of 1874!

Complaints about the timekeeping of the Four Courts clock were to feature in the Freeman’s Journal on many subsequent occasions; a loving account of the long-running saga may be found in McDonnell Bodkin’s ‘Recollections of an Irish Judge’ available to read in full here.

The Law Library mentioned was of course the First Law Library situate just behind the Round Hall, which had already been through some trials and tribulations! A subsequent attempt to resolve the problems highlighted by the Freeman was to result in a further disaster!

Picture credit: Punch’s Barrister Issue (well worth a read)

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

Leave a Reply