The Four Courts are located in the former St Michan’s Parish, across the river from the old City of Dublin. St Michan’s Parish was previously part of the old Viking area of Oxmantown, and its church, adjacent to the Four Courts, dates from this period. Later, in the 17th century, St Michan’s was promoted by the Duke of Ormonde as an elite residential and commercial sector.
However, by the mid-18th century, the parish was already on the decline, with much of the site of the Four Courts, which had previously housed an Inns of Court, now the home of ‘prostitutes and thieves’ and surrounded by fish and fruit markets. The area did not improve with the opening of the Four Courts, with those visiting the courts often being pelted with rotten fish and fruit from neighbouring stalls. Further neighbourhood decline in the 19th century culminated in the development of a brothel quarter known as Bull Lane immediately to the north-east of the Courts.
Nonetheless, it remained a very interesting neighbourhood, with some fascinating residents and stories. Posts about the above, and the neighbourhood of the Four Courts generally, may be found here.