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Skeletons found in courthouse

During refurbishment of Sligo courthouse, the remains of at least two skeletons were recovered from beneath the floor of rooms to the rear of the District Court. They were both males, one in his late teens, the other an adult. While the fact that the skeletons were headless makes for a more exciting story, this occurred because of later disturbance rather than a more sinister explanation!

In both cases the skeletons were found lying face up, in an extended position, with the hands crossed over the pelvis. Evidence from both, in the form of actual wood and nails, showed that they were buried in coffins, and in the case of one, buttons recovered from around the knees, suggested that they were buried in clothes rather than a funeral shroud. In 1780 a sessions house was built which incorporated a jail while the present main building was built between 1876 and 1879. It is probable that the two bodies post-date the 1780 construction and predate the building of the new courthouse in the late 1870's. When the inmates of the jail died or were executed, they were interred in the nearest available spot, a large open room to the rear of the jail. It is unlikely that this room would have been used by any group other than the prisoners themselves, and may have been used as an open work space.

O'Connell Bridge

One of the most famous bridges in Dublin has an interesting connection with the Four Courts.  The first O'Connell Bridge (then called Carlisle Bridge) was completed in 1795 to the designs of James Gandon (who also designed the Four Courts). As it was found to be too steep and narrow for the increased traffic of the late 1870's, Bindon Stoney, the Chief Engineer of the Port and Docks Board, was commissioned to redesign it. Copying Gandon's architectural details Stoney created a bridge that was flat and as wide as Sackville (O'Connell) Street. The bridge is unique in that its width is nearly the same as its length. Named in honour of Daniel O'Connell, the new bridge was opened in 1880.  So not only is the bridge designed by the same man who designed the Four Courts, it is also named after a famous barrister.

The Law Library

At the end of the 19th century there was no law library. The wealthier members of the Bar had their own collections of legal works in their own homes. Their less fortunate colleagues had to resort to the library of the King's Inns in Henrietta Street, where they could copy the necessary particulars. Then a Dublin merchant bought a law library and placed it on the quay in front of the Four Courts, where barristers could hire a legal work for sixpence a day. Later, he was given a room in the courts in which to carry on his trade. Upon his death, a committee of the Bar purchased it for the use of the profession. This formed the nucleus of the collection which was destroyed when the Four Courts was burned in 1922.


Bram (Abraham) Stoker was born in Clontarf, Dublin in 1847 and studied in Trinity College Dublin. After he graduated he took a job as a clerk of the Petty Court sessions in Dublin Castle, where he wrote his first book, 'The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland'. This was published in 1879 and was a manual for the position. In 1878 he married Florence Balcombe and moved to London, England. He became the manager of Henry Irving (one of the leading actors of the time) and of the Lyceum Theatre. His novel 'Dracula' about a Transylvanian vampire count is probably the most famous gothic novel ever published. It is the biggest selling novel in the world and is only outsold by the bible. It has inspired and influenced over 700 films. He died in 1912 and was cremated at Golders Green Cemetery in London.