The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby Boyler » Tue Jan 31, 2006 2:39 am

I was wondering if there are or were any plans to restore the Four Courts? It wasn't exactly rebuilt to the stanards of the Custom's House after the fire. Is it possible to do this or is no-one interested?
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby crestfield » Tue Jan 31, 2006 2:48 am

The Four Courts under went a significant restoration program in 1996 to the best of my knowledge, with the exception of the railings the buildings interior and exterior apper in good repair. The original restoration in the 30s involved significant alterations including the partial demolition of the two wings. I think it looks better, any opinions or photographs.

The other clever alteration was turning the pillars in the rotunda around to hide the bullet and bomb damage.
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby a boyle » Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:22 pm

It is not likely to ever happen. The original besign had the two side buildings approx 15 metres closer to the liffey. Thus it had the feel of the bank of ireland, or the sphinx. Also the dome was not open at all as it is now. It used to house the law library.
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby GrahamH » Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:17 pm

And not that it even needs to be said, but floodlighting - good God the floodlighting. What a disgrace.
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby Peter Fitz » Wed Feb 01, 2006 9:08 pm

agreed 100% Graham !
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby Devin » Thu Feb 02, 2006 2:42 am

The original besign had the two side buildings approx 15 metres closer to the liffey.
It wasn't that much - only about 3 or 4 metres, or one window bay. You can see it here in this pre-'22 pic (below). Now the wings are flush with the arcade screen. They also had valley roofs, closed in at the front, giving them a more blockish and powerful appearance. Now they are single-pitched.


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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby fergalr » Mon Feb 13, 2006 2:15 pm

I served as a juror two years back and the state of the place is ferociously bad.
The rotunda is pretty cheap looking with masses of..I think beige paint all over the place. The central four courts are cramped uncomfortable and tacky looking. The jury rooms are a disgrace.

Surely if Cork City Courthouse can have cash pumped into it, the highest court building in the land could be the recipient of some restoration funding.
And, yeah re-extending the wings would be a good move too.
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby GrahamH » Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:25 pm

The loss of the 'chunky' valley roofs was as equally damaging as the chopping of the wings - they gave the building a grand solid air, forming the great arms that wrap around the central temple. What a shame - they ought to be reinstated, not least as a perhaps more feasible project than the wing extending.

Fantastic chimney in the middle of the pic there - they don't make them like that anymore :)
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Feb 14, 2006 9:58 pm

You can see the old footprint of the wings where the basement comes out under the pevement - there are light panels set in the concrete.

Courts.ie description and history of building
http://www.courts.ie/courts.ie/library3.nsf/pagecurrent/C405A2905C07523880256DA900495EE2
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Feb 15, 2006 4:39 am

old plan

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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby fergalr » Thu Feb 16, 2006 2:23 pm

Sure now the main entrance isn't in use any more, now's as good a time as any to begin an overhaul.
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby Maskhadov » Thu Feb 16, 2006 10:44 pm

it needs it !!
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby ake » Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:52 pm

Just came across this pic on the Art&Architecture site and wanted to post it somewhere on here, so here it is;
[ATTACH]6998[/ATTACH]
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby GrahamH » Sun Mar 09, 2008 12:39 am

Wow fantastic shot ake (pity about the truck lol).
Really though doesn't it highlight how poor those weak pitched roofs are - such feeble terminations.

On the general theme of conservation, it's a shame how quickly the building has sullied since cleaning in the mid-1990s, particularly the capitals. To see the difference, RTÉ News still use a great raking shot of the portico and dome for the picture window beside the newsreader for certain court stories, which was shot just after the restoration. They are absolutely pristine. Thankfully it hasn't been updated! It's depressing to see it knowing what matters really look like.

The same can be said of the most splendid capitals in the city, those of the House of Lords portico, which are similarly choked with dirt. It's not a big deal to lightly spray down dressings with water once a year - City Hall were doing it recently up on a cherry picker with a pressure hose, taking non-abrasive broad sweeps. Contrary to popular belief that 'acid rain' or urban rain causes such accumulations, the opposite is actually the case. It's areas that don't get washed by rain, e.g. highly detailed Corinthian capitals which are notorious for turning black, that gather deposits. City Hall is still pristine nearly 8 years after cleaning seemingly because it's being maintained.

Not that everything ought to be gleaming, but if you can limit the obscuring of detail in a non-intrusive way after the effort of a major cleaning, this should be done.
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby notjim » Sun Mar 09, 2008 9:54 am

The church st part of back of this building always annoys me: it is a complete mess. In the context of moving lots of its business to infirmary road surely the poor modern additions could be removed or redone?
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby ake » Sun Mar 09, 2008 12:48 pm

It is a lovely photorgraph, showing the courts spreading out along the quays like the Customs House. A verdant row of leafy deciduous tree is a lovelier prospect than a truck yes, but blocks out the view all the same;

[ATTACH]7004[/ATTACH]

In "Dublin- A Grand Tour" by O'Brien and Guinness, reference is made to C.P. Curran, and it is said his photographs of the interior of the Four Courts, taken before the burning in the Civil War are the only record of them. I would love to see these images if anybody could tell me where to find them or even better if anybody has access to them and might possibly post them here for all to see.

PS.
Curran wrote "Dublin Decorative Plasterwork of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries " (1967). Are the images in this book?
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby Rory W » Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:52 pm

I seem to remember hearing that the Four Courts will be restored when the new courts complex at Parkgate Street is complete and the heavy duty criminal cases are moved there. The Four courts will then be restored for use in more 'civil' cases and all the scanners and security stuff can be removed as they were only there for the heavy duty cases - thus the front door can be reopened then
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby GrahamH » Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:13 pm

ake, Curran wrote that no 'adequate' pictorial record survives of the Rotunda/Great Hall decoration, but he certainly did take pictures of some of the elements prior to the 'catastrophe' of 1922. It was upon these images that he drew these sketch representations, and included them in the book. The original photographs alas were not published.

Image

Suffice to say Gandon hated Stapletonesque faffing about with dinky neoclassicisim - he wanted robust!
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby KerryBog2 » Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:34 pm

Rory W wrote:............- thus the front door can be reopened then

The security measures are rather tiresome for the wigged folk. Two gowned members of the bar arrive at entrance, only one has necessary electronic ID. "Zorry zir, you kannot go in" Rather than make a fuss after the initial protestations, the second BL goes away to the entrance for ordinary folk. "Look, did you not recognise who that was, the former Minister for Justice?" "Yes, Zir, I knew eggactly who he is." :D
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby ake » Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:40 pm

GrahamH wrote:ake, Curran wrote that no 'adequate' pictorial record survives of the Rotunda/Great Hall decoration, but he certainly did take pictures of some of the elements prior to the 'catastrophe' of 1922. It was upon these images that he drew these sketch representations, and included them in the book. The original photographs alas were not published.


Suffice to say Gandon hated Stapletonesque faffing about with dinky neoclassicisim - he wanted robust!


Thanks Graham.

Looks very high quality. What a shame no one bothered to take proper photographs of the interior. Strikes me as rather strange that nobody did, even up to as late as the 1920's.

On a related note, does anyone know if any pictures were taken of the Custom House interior before it's destruction?
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby fergalr » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:59 am

GrahamH wrote:Suffice to say Gandon hated Stapletonesque faffing about with dinky neoclassicisim - he wanted robust!


I dunno if I would call the Custom House robust.. it's pretty feminine. It's counterpart being the butch Four Courts up the river.. but I think everyone here has heard that description of the two.
At the least, the main courtrooms etc and the Rotunda need to be refurbished. The courtrooms are a disgrace and...to be frank, splashing what must be the largest public room in Dublin with dollops of yellowy/magnolia paint does not a refurbishment make..
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby gunter » Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:26 pm

Somebody here will know the answer to this.

I had always understood that Gandon designed the Four Courts incorporating a slightly earlier L-shaped 'Public Office' building designed by Thomas Cooley. Excepting the earlier Cooley wing, the building period has always been given as 1786 to 1802 and there was an implication that the dome was one of the last piece of the structure to be finished. Is that what everyone else understood? That's the picture you get from reading Maurice Craig's 'Dublin 1660 - 1860' I've even heard it said that some vagueness on the exact profile of the drum and dome in Malton's print of the Four Courts arose from the fact that, like the Blue Coat School spire, the Four Courts' dome wasn't actually built, or at least finished, when Malton drew his view.

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Malton's original text, that accompanied each of his prints, tells a slightly different story. He suggests that the main block was complete by 1799 and only the eastern wing (to mirror Cooley's western wing) remained to be completed after that date. Most intriguingly of all, Malton suggests that Cooley's building wasn't some isolated L-shaped 'office building', but the built wing of an earlier design for the Four Courts!

[INDENT]'This extensive building was first begun by Mr. Thomas Cooley, arch. in 1776. He lived, however, but to complete the western wing. On his demise the completing of it was given to Mr. James Gandon. It was the intention of Mr. Cooley to have kept back the middle part, containing the Courts; and by only gently breaking the range, to have preserved one entire court-yard of the space that is now divided into two, and the ground covered by the centre pile. It is to be lamented that that idea has been departed from by his successor, a change, which, besides other diadvantages, presents so magnificant a structure being seen to advantage.

The foundation stone, of the part containing the courts, was laid, with the usual ceremony, on the 13th March 1786, by his grace Charles the late Duke of Rutland, then Lord Lieutenant, attended by the Lord Chancellor, and great Law officers. From March 1786, to February 1797, by the accounts, there has been expended £77,000 which, added to £16,788 the sum laid out under the direction of Mr. Cooley, makes £93,788 to which, if were added the consumption of the last year, but the most expensive of any, and to the whole were farther, the estimate for building the eastern wing and offices, not yet executed, with allowance foe alterations that are to take place on the Quay before the building, £150,000 will, I imagine, not be found an exagerated estimate for the entire completion.'
[/INDENT]

Maybe everyone else knew this, or maybe Malton was away with the birds, but I have certainly never seen drawings of a Cooley version of the Four Courts!
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby GregF » Sat Jul 26, 2008 9:48 am

The knarled old trees spoil the view. Perhaps they should be thinned out . Plenty of eyesores along the quays where tree planting would be very appropriate to screen the view.

Anyone ever notice the appalling weathered condition of the statues on the Four Courts?
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby GrahamH » Sun Jul 27, 2008 5:03 pm

I've never seen drawings either, but apparently there were draft or preliminary plans drawn up by Cooley shortly after the completion of the Public Records wing for a Courts complex at this site also, roughly along the lines of the plan that we have now, but with a single semi-enclosed rectangular courtyard – presumably open to the river - and the central block absorbed into the northern range. The plan of Government Buildings minus its street frontage is probably a reasonably representative expression of such a concept. Agreed the plans would be interesting to get hold of.

As regards the chronology of building the Four Courts, as previously mentioned Cooley’s building was begun in 1776 and seemingly finished by 1784, the year that Cooley died. Notably it was James Gandon that signed one of the final payments for this work in that same year – 1784 – indicating he was on the scene as replacement architect long before 1786 when the foundation stone for the Four Courts was laid. Ground works began in the latter quarter of 1785. What is generally unknown is that the building of the Four Courts was fraught with as much, if not greater, difficulty than that of the Custom House - allbeit for different reasons - with Gandon embroiled in a plethora of vindictive public attacks that were as much political as they were critical of his work. Work was also halted at times, and the entire project constantly under political scrutiny and review. All of this is detailed to illuminating effect in Hugo Duffy’s seminal book on Gandon: James Gandon and his Times, published in 1999.

Image


An extract from Gandon’s diaries gives a precise chronology of the major construction events. In 1794:

“The statues had been placed on the pediment of the portico, and four of the columns, complete with their entablature, were raised and set around the drum of the dome, so that some idea could be formed of what was intended: from this circumstance I was in hopes to secure the completeness of the design whenever it was resumed. The dome, from its eminence was now become the most conspicuous feature of the public of Dublin, and from many adjacent parts of the country was seen with imposing effect.”

Later in 1794:

“...the remaining columns around the dome, with the entablature, were completed and the roof covered; in the meantime the internal scaffold was raised for finishing the vault of the internal dome; all the foliage, with the medallions being cast, and afterwards repaired by carvers, which added greatly to their boldness of relief, and every department went on with the same expedition. The Courts were ready for the reception of the Judges, who held their first term therein on Monday, the 8th November, 1796, being ten years and eight months from the laying of the first stone. But it must be remarked that works were suspended for nearly three years, while the south eastern portion of the offices were being erected. It was not until the year 1798 that the foundations were laid for the east wing of the remaining offices, nor, owing to the political events which then convulsed society, was it until 1802 that the screen arcade, and wings of offices were finally completed.”


The person generally associated with the personal attacks in contemporary newspapers was none other than James Malton, clearly a volatile character with a major chip on his shoulder. He had earlier worked for Gandon as his (highly accomplished) draughtsman for about three years. While the anonymous ‘Malton Letters’ have never been proven conclusively to have been by him – and there are some causes in the letters to attribute them elsewhere – on the whole it is accepted that he is by far the most likely candidate responsible.

The biography of Gandon published by his son in the 19th century observed cuttingly about Malton: “He [Gandon] took him into his office, and kept him employed for nearly three years; but he so frequently betrayed all official confidence, and was guilty of so many irregularities, that it became quite necessary to dismiss him from the employment. He subsequently published views of the public buildings of Dublin, which, so far as delineation went, were certainly accurate, but his letter-press descriptions were envenomed with the most malignant misrepresentations.” :)


I've never really understood why Malton's view of the Four Courts - or rather his depiction of the drum and dome - is so unflattering, cartoon-like even, especially relative to his other elegant and proportional drawings, but his string of attacks on this building in particular would suggest that he wasn't exactly favourably disposed to an accurate, never mind favourable, representation...

Incidentally the plans depicted in Gandon's famous portrait by Tilly Kettle are none other than...

Image
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Re: The Four Courts - A Possible Restoration?

Postby fergalr » Sun Jul 27, 2008 5:28 pm

lol ah, the poor closed and gated front porch of the Four Courts, I'm guessing?

Presumably it'll be re-opened when all the criminal cases are shunted upsteam - though a barrister who plies his trade in the building thinks differently. You would have a direct line of sight straight through to the Supreme Court chamber, if you had the notion to get up to any divilment :p

'Tis a nice painting of the man, with the Custom House looming in the background.
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