Bicycle Theft from Four Courts Yard Ends in Probation Act for Fifteen Intrepid Pre-Teens, 1957

The Four Courts around the time of this incident. Image via Digital Repository of Ireland. Youngster not believed to be one of the offenders.

From the Irish Press, 9 October 1957:


Eight boys and seven girls from eight to eleven years old were charged in the Children’s Court yesterday with taking ten bicycles belonging to officials employed in the Courts of Justice and the Land Registry offices at the Four Courts, and damaging them to the extent of £17.

Evidence was given by Capt. Peter McDonagh, Officer in Charge, Department of Justice, Four Courts, that the children had been in the habit of getting in through the railings. They had done this repeatedly in spite of the vigilance of two whole-time caretakers.


Det. Garda P.K. Kearney read statements made by the children in which they described how they ‘scooted around and bumped into one another’ in the yard.  Boys and girls helped one another to lift a number of the machines to the top of a two-foot wall from which they dropped them down about ten feet on the other side.

Justice O’Riain allocated responsibility evenly for the £17. 14s. 5d. worth of damage and ordered the parents to pay compensation.  He remanded the case for two months, when the children promised that they would not go back to the yard or take bicycles.  He told them if there was no further complaint, and if compensation had been paid by then, he would apply the Probation Act when the case came on again.”

It is a relief to read that the very young offenders were spared the horrors of Irish industrial schools.  Clearly the milder punishment worked – there were no further reports of similar thefts!

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

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