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 this latter, a considerable quantity of human bones were discovered, and thrown up.

The circumstances, of course, attracted several spectators to the spot, and much curiosity appeared to be excited as to how these relics of mortality came to be deposited in such a locality… It appears that the site of the Four Courts was formerly that of the Friary of St Xavier, founded in or about the year 1202… From the facts thus stated it may be reasonably inferred that the spot where the remains were found had once formed part of the cemetery attached to the old religious institution… and account for what might at first appear to be rather a singular circumstance…

The area where the bones were found appears to be just behind the north-west corner of the western wing of the main Four Courts.

A further thirty skeletons were found close by in 1967, when the ballroom at the rear of the Four Courts Hotel (now the rear portion of Aras Ui Dhalaigh) was being constructed.

Which begs the question – how many other long-forgotten bodies lie beneath the south-west corner of the current Law Library car park?

The day-to-day concerns of practitioners passing over this once-sacred ground pale in comparison to the transience of human existence and the inexorable passing of time!

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

One thought on “Human Remains Beside the West Wing, 1834”

Leave a Reply