The Elephant in the Yard, 1906

From the Irish Examiner, 6 March 1906:

“The Rolls Court, under ordinary circumstances a prosaic place where nothing but heavy legal arguments about Chancery suits are heard, was today a scene of some interest. The court was thronged by members of the public, theatrical gentlemen, and barristers for the hearing of the application of the Star Theatre Company of Varieties against the Dublin Theatre Company Ltd, in which the plaintiffs sought to restrain the defendants from giving a hippodrome performance.

As previously announced the elephant was at court this morning. He is a magnificent animal and seemed, whether by reason of elephantic personal magnetism or otherwise, to attract a huge crowd of admirers. The elephant is of a light colour, though he is not exactly a white elephant. He took up a prominent position in the court-yard, immediately outside the buffet, and there remained with sweet placidity while his character was being discussed by the gentlemen in wig and gown.

It was amusing to watch his antics. He viewed the crowd of spectators with the appearance of suspicion, and seemed to regard with contempt the lawyers who halted on their way from the dressing room to the courts to view his elephantship. Occasionally Mr Elephant would condescend to lower his head to a Chancery Lane boy, with whom he presented a comical appearance of conversing.

On the whole, however, if one may judge by the gestures of the animal he considered an appearance in the Four Courts as a sort of reflection on his reputation. When the result of the case was known, there was a cheer given for him, and he bowed head and trunk with an air of lofty indifference of the “I-told-you-so” character.

Mr Blood, KC for the applicants, addressing the Master of the Rolls, said the application was against the defendants, who owned the Theatre Royal, and it was sought to restrain them from having performances in their theatre of a dangerous nature, such as the Globe of Life [where a motor cycle was ridden at forty miles an hour inside a glass globe] or any performance in which it was intended that an elephant or other wild animal should take place.

This was an interlocutory application to restrain the defendants until the hearing of the action.

The Master of the Rolls refused the application.

Would he have done so had the elephant not turned up?

A victory to trumpet about for sure!

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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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