Doing ‘Circuit’ in a Motor, 1907

From the Freeman’s Journal, 2 July 1907:

The march of science received a new illustration at the Four Courts yesterday, when some half-dozen members of the Leinster Circuit started in a motor car from the Four Courts for Nenagh, at which town the Assizes open today. The car was a big one of the St Denis pattern, and this new way of going the rounds of the Leinster Circuit was the subject of a great deal of comment. Other members of the Bar spoke of the innovation with evident amusement. Some of the older barristers remarked on this move as recalling the old days when parties started on the circuit from the Four Courts in a smart “four in hand.” The private vehicle, although now a horseless one, has once again superseded the train in this respect. The starting of the party to ‘do circuit’ was an occasion of much interest and amused comment to the onlookers who witnessed their departure from the Four Courts, among whom were many well-known members of the Bar.”

The passionate impetuosity characteristic of the successful Edwardian advocate was not always conducive to steady control of wheeled vehicles. The older barristers mentioned above would no doubt have been familiar with the sad story of Walter Long BL, holder of a first-rate practice on the North-East Circuit, who died tragically in 1890 after having met with an accident whilst riding on a tricycle. Mr Long’s obituary described him as of genial disposition and even temper, and stated that, had he lived a few years longer, he would certainly have occupied a place in the foremost ranks of the profession.

Country roads, too, could be full of surprises, as another Irish barrister, Henry Lover, found out in 1873, when the horsecar taking him to a fishery enquiry at Tramore was involved in an unexpected collision with a van belonging to Batty’s Travelling Circus. Mr Lover was fortunate enough to escape with only a leg injury.

I hope this gallant band of Circuit travellers took their time and arrived safely in Nenagh!

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Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

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