Chief Justice to lead tours of Four Courts as part of 1922 centenary events

Donal O’Donnell launches programme to mark impact of 1922 on Irish legal system

The Chief Justice is among several judges who will lead tours of the Four Courts as part of events marking the centenary this year of the occupation and battle there at the start of the Civil War, and of the enactment of the Free State constitution.

The Courts Service, judiciary, Office of Public Works and volunteer partners have created a programme of events to commemorate the impact of the 1922 events on lawyers, the public using the courts, and the emergence of an independent legal system.

Chief Justice Donal O’Donnell launched the programme on Thursday, the centenary of the occupation of the Four Courts on April 14th, 1922, by IRA opponents of the 1922 Anglo-Irish Treaty, which led to a battle with the pro-Treaty Free State army.

The aim of the programme was “to commemorate the fascinating history of our courts and legal system, our rich heritage uniquely portrayed in the story of our buildings, and those affected by the occupation and bombardment”, Mr Justice O’Donnell said.

“The events of 1922 from the beginning of the year with the signing of the [Anglo-Irish] Treaty, through to the occupation and battle of the Four Courts, and on to the enactment of the constitution of the Irish Free State, paved the way for the legal system we have today.”

Among the events is the Beyond 2022 project reconstructing the archives lost during the battle of the Four Courts.

Lectures by judges, historians and academics over the coming months will also tell the story of the Four Courts and the experience of the people who lived within it in 1922.

In collaboration with Michael Fewer, author of The Battle of the Four Courts, a photographic exhibition entitled The Four Courts – 1922 will run in the Round Hall of the Four Courts.

The Chief Justice is among those who will lead Four Courts 100 guided tours over three Saturdays in June and July. A Four Courts 100 app, available from early June, will offer a link to book the lectures and tours, which will also be possible on the Courts Service website.

Details of the events will be available on various social media channels, including a dedicated Twitter account – @FourCourts100.

Constitution Committee

A joint event with the National Archives of Ireland is planned for October 2022 to mark the work of the Constitution Committee up to the enactment of the Irish Free State constitution in early December 1922, and the subsequent effect on lawyers, judges and the courts culminating in the Courts of Justice Act, 1924.

Separately, a conference entitled Portrait of a Nation: Art, Politics and the Anglo-Irish Treaty takes place on April 22nd and 23rd at the National Museum of Ireland (NMI), Collins Barracks.

Exploring the intersection between art and politics in the context of the birth of the new Irish state, the conference, which will also be livestreamed, is organised jointly by the NMI and the Hugh Lane gallery. Speakers include historian Dr Sinéad McCoole, writers Flor McCarthy and Valerie Cox and artists Anthony Haughey, Amanda Dunsmore and Niamh McCann.