Eoin Mac Neill (1867-1954)
Eoin Mac Neill was born at Glenarm, Co. Antrim in 1864 and began his career as a civil servant in the Four Courts. He co-founded the Gaelic League in 1893 with Douglas Hyde (later to become first President of Ireland). The Gaelic League was set up as a non-political organisation devoted to the study of Irish. He was also instrumental in the founding of the Irish Volunteers in 1913. He was Chief of Staff in 1916 and on hearing of the impending uprising put a notice in the Sunday Independent countermanding all orders, manoeuvres and marches for Easter Sunday.
Mr. Justice James Murphy died on the 5th September 1901. He was a prosecutor of note at a time of particular difficulty. Contemporary accounts suggest that he was more respected for his efficiency than loved for his understanding. He and Mr. William O'Brien, K.C., were generally referred to as 'the Green Street Team' but it was his successful prosecution of the Invincibles which represented the high point of his career at the Bar. Of the many tributes in 1901 Irish Law Times Reports perhaps the most impressive is that in his 18 years as a judge no verdict obtained before him was ever set aside. While the few text books that do exist recall very little of the contribution of Mr. Justice Murphy to our jurisprudence, he has left us with some enduring monuments including a stained glass window in the parish church of Kilternan in County Dublin which records Moses handing down the laws. The window incorporates a magnificent reproduction of the Four Courts.
The spacious estate at Glencairn in Cabinteely, County Dublin owned by Mr. Justice James Murphy (referred to above) was sold on his death to Richard 'the Boss' Croker. Mr. Croker had been a leading Tammany Hall politician. Whether is was his position in that organisation or speculative property dealings that were the source of his wealth was a matter of some debate but certainly he had the resources to purchase Glencairn and some 300 surrounding acres. He renovated the residence in great style and laid out the lands as racing stables. His greatest ambition was achieved when his horse, Orby, won the English Derby in 1907 (at odds of 100-6) even though the Boss was disappointed by the refusal of Edward VII to entertain him as the winner of that prestigious event.
After the death of his first wife in 1914 Boss Croker married Ms. Bula Edmonton who was referred to as an Indian princess of the Cherokee tribe. She was not a full blooded member of that tribe and questions have been raised as to the correctness of her title but there is no doubt that she was young, beautiful and wealthy. The remarriage of Mr. Croker was a grave disappointment to his surviving children. They instituted proceedings alleging that he was not competent to deal with his financial affairs and further that he was dominated by his young wife. The challenge to the competence of Mr. Croker was rejected but the litigation resulted in unhappy relationships with the surviving children. Those who had died were remembered by a chapel built in their memory in Glencairn itself; those who survived were not forgiven.
Lord Norbury - the 'Hanging Judge'
John Toler was born in Co. Tipperary in 1745. He was admitted to the bar in 1770. As a strong supporter of the Government, he attained many offices, including that of Lord Chief Justice, and was eventually ennobled as the Earl of Norbury. He was also the Solicitor General and a member of Grattan's Parliament. Later by bribery and deception he reached the Bench to become a corrupt and fearsome judge. He had poor legal skills and used his power to intimidate lawyers and defendants with hissarcastic wit and twisted sense of humour. His courts were like a wild theatre. His most famous trial was that of Robert Emmet, in which Norbury continually interrupted and abused Emmet when he was making his speech from the dock, before sentencing him to death.
Daniel O'Connell despised him and initiated the investigation of his conduct in a trial where he fell asleep. He was eventually removed from the bench in 1827 due to his absent-mindedness and his inclination to fall asleep during important trials. He died in his home, number 3 Great Denmark Street, Dublin, on July 27th 1831 at the age of 85 years and was buried at St. Mary's Church, Mary Street, Dublin.