The Four Courts refers to a building in the centre of Dublin City where the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ireland is located. A landmark in Irish history, it is a highly symbolic place, which has undergone many political events in recent centuries. The name “Four Courts” can be explained by the presence of 4 inner courtyards, all built in a strong neo-classical style. Very recognizable because of its green dome, its columns and its Irish flag floating in the wind, so much so that the construction imposes some!
It all began in 1776. At that time, Ireland was fighting willingly or unwillingly against British domination, which crushed them and deprived them of their independence. Many official institutions were chaperoned by the London government, and the Irish had had enough.
After multiple failed attempts at uprising, the Irish want to reform the institutions with the aim of achieving greater independence. To do this, they decided to take as their battle horse the Irish judicial system, which many already wanted to reform … They thus decide to build a new building where the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ireland will be able to sit and impose its independence on the British. This is how the idea of the Four Courts was born.
It was therefore Thomas Cooley, an architect from Dublin, who decided to design what he would call the “Four Courts”, a building intended to house the future Supreme Court of the Irish judicial system. In 1784, James Gandon took over following Cooley’s death, and completed it many years later, endowing the building with 4 interior courtyards, as well as a green dome supported by a series of classical columns.
When completed, the building became a strong symbol of Ireland. So much so that it is quickly considered as a strategic location for the attempted Easter Uprising in 1916: the Republicans take it over until the British defeat them.
It was in 1922 that the anti-treaty forces in turn stormed the Four Courts and fought a battle against Michael Collins and his pro-treaty army. This army did not hesitate to fire on the building causing its partial destruction. After violent confrontations, Michael Collins finally manages to dislodge them, leaving the building in a serious state of disrepair.
At the end of this war, the Republic of Ireland will undertake a vast campaign of restoration of the building, which will last until 1932. It was at that time that the Supreme Court was relocated to its premises.
The building is unfortunately closed to visitors, but you can walk past it along the street leading to Christ Church. Here you can admire the elegance of the green dome of the Four Courts, its columns and the pure style of the building.