The centre of Ireland’s legal system, James Gandon & gutted by fire in 1921

This was formerly the location of a 13th century Dominican Friary and housed the Four Courts of Chancery, Kings Bench, Exchequer, and Common Pleas. Before this building was built in 1775, Ireland’s legal system was divided into two, with the greater Dublin area being under English law, and outside this, justice had been administered since the 1st century AD by wandering jurists under the old Brehon laws. It was therefore decided to ‘house’ the legal system and the four courts under one roof. To make a ‘strong statement’ the English hired the top architects of the day. The original designs were by Thomas Cooley, the architect of the Royal Exchange (now City Hall). The building was completed by James Gandon who is regarded as the leading English architect to have worked in Ireland during the 18th century. Gandon’s other works include Custom House, Emo Court, Kings Inn, and even O’Connell Bridge. In 1921 the Custom House came under heavy artillery fire during The Irish 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.