Posted by: marthabernie | May 26, 2015


scan0062This is a press photo of the attack on the Four Courts in Dublin during the 1922-1923 Civil War.  This building was started in 1776 as designed by Thomas Cooley.  After his death in 1784, James Gandon finished the building.  It housed the four courts of British Rule initially, then the High Court of Ireland after a major revision of the judiciary in the late 1800’s.  Of course, after the new Republic set up their court system in 1924, the building could not be used until refurbished, but it retained it’s name…The Four Courts.

Located along the River Liffey at Inns Quay, it was built on the site that originally was originally part of the King’s Inns.  The Four Courts were seized by Ned Daly’s lst Battalion during the Easter Rising in 1916.  The building survived the bombardment by British artillery that destroyed large parts of the city centre.  On April 14, 1922, the Four Courts were occupied by Republican forces led by Rory O’Connor who opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty.  After months of a stand-off, the new Provisional Government attacked the building to dislodge the rebels on the advice of the Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Army, Michael Collins.  There was a week of fighting in Dublin, and most of the building was destroyed.  Oddly enough, as the rebels finally surrendered, the west wing of the building blew up in a huge explosion, destroying the Public Record Office and more than a thousand years of irreplaceable archives.  Some believe the Republicans purposely booby-trapped the building, but they denied it, stating that they had used the archive as a store of their ammunition, which had accidentally blown up.

The Four Courts reopened in 1932 after major rebuilding and remodeling.  Much of the decorative interior was not replaced as the records and architectural plans were blown up in the explosion and there was not enough money to do anything lavish.  Today the Four Courts houses only the High Court and Civil Court as the Criminal Court was moved to a new building in 2010.

four courtsPhoto courtesy of Wikipedia.


  1. The decision to attack the Four Courts was as much to do with British pressure, and that of some nationalist (rather than republican) cabinet-colleagues, as anything Collins wanted. Britain’s objective was divide and rule and in the Battle of Dublin they got it. For a time. Truly one of the worse periods in our history. Though I suppose most of post-WWI Europe went through similar civil wars during 1918-25, and along not dissimilar political and ideological lines.


  2. Great photo!!!


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