The Four Courts , Dublin

The Four Courts is a landmark of Dublin’s city centre , located at the Inns Quay on the river Liffey.

Built between 1786 and 1802 , the structure is a masterpiece of Georgian architecture. But a bit of a hidden gem on tours of Ireland.

Part of the building was designed by Thomas Cooley , who died before its completion.

The project was then taken over by James Gandon.

The building gets its name from the four courts that traditionally made up the judicial system in Ireland ( Chancery , King’s Bench , Exchequer , and the Common Pleas ).

Today the building continues to be the centre of the Irish court system , housing both the High Court and the Supreme Court.

The Four Courts is best known in Irish history as the site where the first shots of the Irish Civil War ( 1922-23 ) were fired. On the night of April 13th 1922 , and Irish Republican Army ( IRA ) garrison under the command of Rory O’Connor occupied the Four Courts and other prominent buildings in Dublin in defiance of the pro-treaty provisional government headed by Michael Collins. Following the IRA kidnapping of of the provisional government’s deputy chief of staff , General J.J. O’Connell , on 26th June 1922 , Collins ordered the Four Courts evacuated. O’Connor and his garrison ignored the order , and in the predawn hours of June 28th , using artillery they had borrowed from the British , Collin’s troops began shelling the Four Courts. O’Connor and his men surrendered two days later , on June 30th.

In the eleven months of internecine warfare that followed , it is estimated that many more Irish nationalists killed one another than had been killed by the British during the whole of the struggle for independence between 1916 and 1921.

Thus , the Four Courts ( rebuilt in the aftermath of the Civil War ) can be seen , on the one hand , as a symbol of the rule of law in Ireland , and , on the other hand , as a reminder of the chaos and fratricidal bloodshed out of which modern Ireland was born.

Worth taking a look if in Dublin on any Ireland tours.

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