Vacation Destinations of the Irish Bar and Bench, 1910

From the Evening Irish Times, 2 August 1910:



Trinity Term came to a close on Saturday.  At the Four Courts the only judge doing any business that day was Mr Justice Barton, who finished up a rather exacting term’s work by delivering two judgments and hearing some short applications.  Other judges were either going, or had already started, on their Long Vacation; and a goodly proportion of the Bar had also taken the first steps of their summer holiday.  That veteran of the Irish Bench, Lord Chief Baron Palles, whose only possible holiday is another form of mental or physical activity, left Dublin on Friday evening by the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company’s Liverpool steamer, to take passage on the Celtic for New York.  He is accompanied – as on the occasion of his previous visits to the United States – by the Recorder of Cork, Mr Matthew Bourke, K.C.

The Lord Chief Baron is a rare traveller.  On board a liner he is usually the outstanding personality, and he presides at all gatherings and meetings held during the voyage.  He is now quite well known in the United States, and, should American and Canadian lawyers be under any doubts as to the legal position involved in the apprehension of ‘Dr’ Crippen, we suggest that the Lord Chief Baron will just arrive in the American Continent in the nick of time to set uncertainty at rest.  Lord Chancellor Walker’s particular fancy is the gentle art of angling, and he is betaking himself to the West of Ireland for indulgence in that beloved pastime.  Lord Chief Justice O’Brien has set before himself a programme at Continental watering places.  He, too, is a hardy traveller, and very popular with all men as a conversationalist and raconteur.

Another excellent traveller, with powers of appreciation of all sorts and sizes of men, is Mr Justice Ross, to whom no one will grudge a holiday after his sturdy reinforcement of the Chancery judges in their congested lists, and his having given the King’s Bench judges a ‘leg-up’ in at least one Vacation Sittings.  Mr Justice Boyd, having put in some strenuous weeks in criminal trials, has begun his vacation with spirit, whirling off from the Four Courts in a motor car with a skill quite comparable to his manner of handling a helm on board ship, clad in oilskins.  To the Master of the Rolls, Mr Justice Meredith, whose present sojourn is at the seaside resort, Bray, will fall, at least during August, the lot of the ‘Vacation judge,’ and as early in the vacation as to-day the first sittings will be heard.

The other Irish judges have followed their individual tastes in the matter of holiday making, though, we should say, the opening of the Dublin Commission does not quite realise the ideal of a holiday for Mr Justice Wright.  Among the stay-at-homes, there is an amazing preponderance of choice in favour of Greystones.  What there is in the air of this pleasant Wicklow resort to yield special relief after legal tanglewood and Four Courts dust and snuff, it would be hard to say, but wigs are now very numerously on the green and in the water under the shadow of the Sugar Loaf, and the points of the game of golf are discussed with legal acumen and forensic fury.

Many of the Bar, too, have gone to Switzerland and the Tyrol in pursuit of adventure over icefield and crevasse.  These are of the inner circle of travel zealots, and with them, though it is no infringement of the rules of the game to be hauled up mountains on cog-wheel and cable railways, little prestige attaches in their coterie to the ascent of such mountains as Pilatus or the Rigi, or of the little Schiedegg or the Rochers de Naye, behind a furiously puffing engine.  But even within this inner circle, alas, all is not uniformly roses and edelweiss.  Switzerland, though a fertile country for wild adventure that may be told of hereafter, has the disadvantage of being patronised largely by critics who are candid and folk who keep a weather eye open for actualities.  Therefore, it is not for the seeker after a mountain reputation, quite an ideal haunt.  The Tyrol, in its romantic regions of Salzburg, Innsbruck and the Solzhammergut, is much less over-run by folk who know other folk; so, on the whole it is a country to be commended to those who have a reputation to make with alpenstock and ice-axe.

The pleasant land of Norway – the land of the ‘Happy Valley,’ the waterfall, the fjord, the midnight sun – is also a delightful country for the seeker after novelty, and the members of the Bar who have booked berths for fortnight or three weeks’ cruises in the Northern Waters are many and representative both of law and equity.  Others there are who have chosen such English watering places as Harrogate and Buxton for their annual relaxation, and bonnie Scotland has not been forgotten.  Others, again there are – and these are most numerous in the Junior Bar – who proclaim that there is no place for a holiday like the Emerald Isle, especially when the rendezvous is within a few hours’ stride of a quarter sessions town or the sitting of a vacation judge.  But the largest class of all these holidaymakers are they who hold that twelve hours is altogether too long a time to be penalised by idleness.  The old idea that the barrister makes so much money in his working hours that he cannot possibly spend it in a shorter period than twelve weeks has not been proclaimed with any particular enthusiasm of late in the Law Library.

Rumours of a curtailment of the summer-holiday time are in the air.  They have started on the other side of the Channel, and have been given a favourable hearing among the unplaced at the Four Courts.  Whether the judges will view with equal relish the possibility of doing more work on the sam pay is, of course, a question to be reserved for argument before the full court.  It may, at any rate, be assumed that their lordships will deal with the question on those broad principles of equity which, as ably enforced by them, have tended to relax the rigour of the Common Law.  For which reason all of right mind and unembittered spirit will wish the members of the Judicial Bench a very pleasant Long Vacation.”

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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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