The New Law Library, 1895

From the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 10 August 1895:

[T]he new Bar library at the Four Courts is rapidly approaching completion.  Only those who have had occasion to visit it can have any idea of the wretched character of the apartment in which the members of the Bar have hitherto had to make up their cases…  built in 1830, in recent years the complaints against it had become so persisting and so loud that the members of the Bar proceeded to promote a bill in Parliament for obtaining a sum of £15,000 from the dormant suitors fund lodged in the Bank of Ireland for the purpose of reconstructing the old building or building a new one.  

Owing to the unanimity of the members of the Bar who were also members of Parliament – the number at that time being fifteen, the bill was rapidly passed… The benchers, who are the controlling authority in the courts, made the way easy by permitting the eastern wing of the main building, which faces the eastern courtyard, to be entirely gutted from the first floor upwards…

Within these old walls the new library has been constructed… a magnificent library approaching in dimensions the library at Trinity College… divided at the sides by 28 magnificent Corinthian columns, the shafts of which are scagliola in imitation of the Rue Royale marble, surmounted by handsome cornices and deeply coiffered ceiling.  The bookcases for the books in use are placed between the columns and the outer walls, thus creating recesses in each window which will form quiet nooks for reading…. 

The large central space will be fitted with oak tables and oak revolving seats.  At the eastern end has been inserted a handsome window, which it is intended to fill with stained glass in heraldic devices, and under it begins an oak staircase which leans on the left to a gallery running round the library… 

It is intended ultimately to have the library in telephonic communication with the various courts, and to have an index of cases at trial always available for inspection in the library.  There will also be provided in connection with the law library a lift for briefs and a delivery room…

Scagliola, stained glass, oak revolving seats and all modern conveniences – surely this new Law Library would prove less hazardous for members than its troublesome predecessor of 1830?

Read on to find out!

Image credit: Irish Independent, 16 April 1896

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

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