This site, on the north side of the River Liffey, was formerly the location of a 13th century Dominican Friary and housed the 4 courts of Chancery, Kings Bench, Exchequer and Common Pleas. Before this building was built in 1775, Ireland’s legal system was divided in two, with the greater Dublin area being under English law, and outside this justice had been administered by wandering jurists under the old Brehon laws since the first century a.d! It was therefore decided to ‘house’ the legal system and the 4 courts under one roof. To make a statement the English hired the top architects of the day. The original designs were by Thomas Cooley, architect of the Royal Exchange (now City Hall) and were finished by James Gandon, who is regarded as the leading English architect to have worked in Ireland during the late 18th century. Gandon’s other works include Custom House, Emo Court, Kings Inn and even O’Connell Bridge (originally known as Carlisle Bridge). In 1921 the building came under heavy artillery fire during the civil war which not only gutted parts of the building but also destroyed many valuable historical records dating as far back as the 12th century.

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