Half a Century After Renouncing Monastic Vows, Septuagenarian Barrister Magistrate Marries his Nurse, 1908

From the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 28 April 1908:


At St Patrick’s Church, Monkstown, at half-past nine o’clock yesterday morning, Mr Thomas J Wall, K.C., 26 Longford Terrace, Monkstown, was married to Miss Gertrude Garland, of Dublin. The ceremony was performed by the Rev Father Eaton, P.P., of Monkstown. The son of the bridegroom is stated to have been present, presumably in the capacity of best man. Mr Wall, Junior, is about 26 years of age, and a very popular young gentleman, being a captain in the City of Dublin Artillery Militia. After the ceremony the bridegroom, Mr Wall, and Mrs Wall, departed by the ten o’clock train from Sandycove station on their honeymoon southwards. To-day the wedding is the talk of Monkstown, and even of Kingstown, mainly because of the romantic circumstances attached to it, and to the local regret that Mr Wall, who is so well known a public man, would have conducted his nuptials in so discreet and quiet a manner. No one knew of the celebration, except those immediately concerned.

Mr Wall, who has lived at Monkstown since he became Chief Divisional Magistrate of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, has become extremely popular there, having for many years occupied a prominent place in the legal profession. He was called to the Bar as far back as 1861. Though on the Bench somewhat inclined to be severe in manner, impartially hard upon all classes of witnesses, a veritable note of perpetual interrogation, he is known in private life to be extremely affable and to be, in fact, a most amiable personality. He is a man extremely devoted to his public duties.

After a long day’s work in the Police Courts – not shortened by his anxiety to have every possible witness and circumstance brought before him – he has been known to light his pipe, cigar or cigarette, and to roam as an ordinary citizen about the streets of Dublin where the poor live and where his form and visage is perfectly known, studying for himself the conditions of the classes, a proportion of whom usually come before him in public. And it is remarkable that it has never been known that an angry or even an impolite expression has been used towards him on any of these Haroun al Raschid peregrinations. Although the Sultan went always disguised, Mr Wall went on his own – open and undisguised. The fact is that his sense of justice and cordial feeling for the poor have been recognised.

The story of the wedding current in Monkstown, if romantic, is creditable alike to bride and bridegroom. There is a certain disparity in their years – it might not be May and December, but certainly July and November. Mr Wall had settled down into widowhood, which happened some years ago, when he was attacked by a severe illness. A nurse was summoned from a leading city hospital to attend him, and the lady connected did her duties so kindly and winningly that Mr Wall decided he could not do without her, and on her part she conceived a sincere affection for her patient. So they married, and the congratulations and good wishes of all their friends, both in public and private life, will follow them on their excursion into the sunny South.”

Not mentioned in the article, and presumably long-forgotten by 1908, was Mr Wall’s interesting early history – before joining the Bar, he had taken monastic vows, only to subsequently renounce them and successfully recover his property from the Order in question on the basis of undue influence!

Mr Wall died in July 1910 at the age of 75, after collapsing due to acute pneumonia. One obituary described him as having ‘often created much amusement in court by the pungency of his sallies, directed for the most part at police witnesses,’ which may go some way to explaining his popularity. His early institutional experiences might also explain his distrust of authority!

Mr Wall was still sitting as a magistrate at the time of his death – here’s one of his decisions.

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

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