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The Four Courts is the iconic site where the country’s legal system was originally housed under one roof (built in the late 18th century). The complex was seriously damaged during the Irish civil war (1922). The Supreme Court, the High Court, the District Court and the Law Library are located here. The Round Hall and the Dome are particularly attractive.
On 14 April 1922 the courts complex was occupied by IRA forces opposed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. On 28 June the new National Army attacked the building to dislodge the “rebels”. This attack provoked a week of fighting in Dublin. In the process of the bombardment, the historic building was pretty much destroyed. The west wing of the building was obliterated in a huge explosion, destroying the Irish Public Record Office at the rear of the building. Nearly a thousand years of archives were destroyed by this explosion, the ensuing fire, and water poured onto the fire. [Thanks to Wikipedia for this information].
There are no heritage tours available but visitors can wander around (Mon-Fri 9.00 am-6.00 pm). Visitors are also welcome to go into courtrooms and observe most cases. You cannot go into courtrooms where a case is being heard in camera (i.e. in private).
Before you make a visit, look up the Legal Diary section of the Four Courts website (www.courts.ie) to find out what cases are listed for hearing.
Groups are welcome to visit the Criminal Courts of Justice on a pre-arranged guided basis. The space available in courtrooms for members of the public is limited. Courtrooms are often crowded and it may be difficult to follow the proceedings without advance information.
Group visits include an opportunity to discuss the operation of the courts with a practising barrister. In addition, second level student groups can participate in a mock criminal trial playing the parts of judge, barrister, solicitor, accused, witness and juror. The School Visit Programme is booked for months in advance and sees thousands of second level students visiting the Criminal Courts of Justice every year. A programme for third level students provides Irish and overseas students with an opportunity to meet a judge for a Q&A session.
Inn’s Quay, Dublin 7.
Information Office – Tel: 01 888 6459. General enquiries – 01 888 6000.