It was time for lunch. Not just any old lunch, but a catch up with Brian – He who gave me the handle Grannymar. Calendars were checked. Dates discussed, arranged, postponed and finally organised for the week before he returned to ‘La Heredia’. I knew I would be going to Dublin, so decided to travel a few days early and have our lunch there instead of Belfast.
I asked if he knew where the Hungry tree was, it was on my list to photograph.
He did. One thing led to another and before I knew it lunch became a day of adventure for me.
I was collected at 11 am and traveled in style to see the Hungry tree.
The seat has been there so long, the tree has grown over the back of it.
We then continued up the drive to the front door of our next port of call…
The Honorable Society of King’s Inns is the oldest institution of legal education in Ireland. The Honorable Society of King’s Inns comprises benchers, barristers and students. The benchers include all the judges of the Supreme and High Courts and a number of elected barristers.
It was founded in 1541 during the reign of Henry VIII, who had passed the Act for confiscation of Religious Houses in 1539, and granted the Society the lands and properties on which the Four Courts now stand but which were then occupied by a Dominican monastery.
When the Four Courts were built in the 1790s, King’s Inns moved to Constitution Hill and the benchers commissioned James Gandon to design their present property, the headquarters of the Benchers and the School of Law. The primary focus of the school is the training of barristers.
In the Middle Ages, the need for apprentice lawyers to learn about common law led to the founding of hostels where they could live and study. The Inns of Court were places where the students were provided with accommodation, meals and tuition. Up to 1800 the buildings at Inns Quay provided all that was needed for practice at the bar. There were chambers where barristers lived and worked, a hall for eating and drinking, a library for research, a chapel for prayer and gardens for recreation. Things changed somewhat with the move to Constitution Hill. Chambers and a chapel were to have been built but the plans were never executed. However, many of the 17th century traditions remain or are co-mingled with 21st century developments.
The formal records of King’s Inns (the “Black Book”) date from 1607. Initially a voluntary society but by 1634 membership had become compulsory for barristers wishing to practise in the courts.
The fireplace in the dining hall with the King’s Inns seal. An open book and the motto Nolumus Mutari which is commonly translated as ‘we do not wish to be changed’. It should be read and understood as the determination by the bench and the bar that the law will be applied without fear or favour and will not bend to suit interests of those with power and influence.
After the Williamite wars of the 1690s catholics were effectively excluded from the legal profession by the penal laws. This exclusion lasted for a century until the Catholic Relief Act of 1792 when catholics were allowed to practise at the outer Bar.
King’s Inns did not possess a library until in 1787 but on the death of Mr. Justice Robinson, his law books (at that time valued at £700) were bought by the Society.
The present library building was erected between 1826 and 1830, to a design by Frederick Darley. The Library has three stories over a basement and was originally seven bays wide. In 1892 an annexe was added at the north-west end.
A Copyright Act of 1710 required that printers give a copy of each book published to various university libraries in England and Scotland. During the reign of George III, in a further Copyright Act (1801), the libraries of Trinity College, Dublin and of King’s Inns were added to the list. In 1836 the provisions of the act were withdrawn.
The present library building was completed in 1830 and houses some 100,000 volumes including those which formed the original collection, purchased in 1787.
Today the library contains over 110,000 volumes, about half of which have a legal content, the remainder being concerned with a wide variety of non-legal subjects.
The general collection contains works on art, history, the classics, literature, biography and numerous other subjects. Of particular note are the books printed before 1501, parliamentary papers, Encumbered Estates Court Rentals, pamphlets and manuscripts.
While in the past the Society sought to create a comprehensive general library, the emphasis in recent years has been on developing the legal collection. The legal collection contains all of the Irish and most of the English textbooks along with statutes, reports of cases, digests and legal periodicals. European, Commonwealth and American Law are well represented and amongst the older legal material are fine collections of trials, Irish appeals to the House of Lords, nominate reports, Roman law and canon law.
We went all the way down stairs to where we found bound copies of The Times from long before I or my parents were born.
I was privileged to be allowed into the inner sanctum of the bencher’s room. A place for the learned gentlemen to unwind and discuss the matters of the day.
Some decorative details:
One surprise was a garderobe:
A modern soap dish, toilet roll & loo brush are evidence to the fact it was still in use today. I have to say I love the towel holder.
That towel holder looks like a heavy door knocker. I like it!
The whole visit was a wonderful experience and I must say a special thanks to David, who with Brian made the visit so memorable.
gallery 3 Miscellaneous selection of photos:
We did go and have a late lunch at Aqua in Howth. The company, the food and the view were all fantastic. A pet day!