Architecture and heritage
Historical and architectural information
Longford courthouse is a five-bay three-storey over basement, double fronted courthouse built on the main street in 1793, probably on the site of an earlier building. The architect is unknown. The plan is a symmetrical arrangement on two storeys over a bridewell basement. Steps lead to a Doric entrance door-case with a central first floor Venetian window above. The attic storey was added in 1859 to 1860 and a pair of single storey bridewell extensions were added to either side of the street entrance about 1900. The building was finished generally in plain lime render with limestone dressings to the windows, which were probably altered in 1859 to 1860 to sliding sash windows. One bridewell was also converted to a Tourist Office in 1970. The premises suffered serious outbreaks of rot in the early nineties and was closed in 1994 due to its poor condition.
Refurbishment and extension project
The space required for modern courtrooms and the necessary ancillary accommodation could not be accommodated within the existing building. It was decided to take down the rear section of the building. In addition, the acquisition of the adjacent licensed premises was important in that it provided additional floor space for court facilities as well as space for car parking. The yard will form a rear entrance for office staff, judges and secure entry for Garda Síochána and Prison Service vehicles.
The original Georgian building constructed in 1790 has been retained at the front of the courthouse. The original façade has been repaired. This involved the cleaning and repair of existing plaster and stone detailing, the repair of existing windows and the removal of the late Victorian bridewells at street level. Railings have been provided as indicated on the original Lawrence photograph of the premises which was taken around 1890. This work has provided a civic quality to the courthouse and the façade has been restored to its previous uninterrupted splendour.
The use of the grand jury room as a family law court was approved as a means of preserving the original space with minimal alterations as it provided a suitable and low-impact usage of this important room in the building.
The rear extension was envisaged as a clean-cut modern structure with deliberately contemporary finishes which would emphasise the separation from the original 1790 structure to a 21 st century rear annex. The only visible insertion into the entrance hall is a fully glazed gallery as an access to the mezzanine level courtrooms which is suspended from the ceiling from steel beams located within the existing floor.
The building now has two large courts together with a family law courtroom and circuit and district court office accommodation. Consultation rooms, victim support room, media room and holding cells for prisoners have been provided. New services are provided throughout the building, together with universal access. The building complies with fire safety requirements. The courthouse has been cabled to accommodate videoconferencing and digital audio recording of proceedings. The building is also supported by a comprehensive information technology network.