A very special day

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 hungry tree

The hungry tree

The seat has been there so long, the tree has grown over the back of it.

Hungry tree from another angle

Hungry tree from another angle

We then continued up the drive to the front door of our next port of call…

The Honorable Society of King’s Inns

The Honorable Society of King’s Inns

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.

Gateway to my adventure

Gateway to my adventure

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.

The Lobby

The Lobby

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.

Looking up from the window

Looking up from the window

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 Dining Hall

The Dining Hall

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.

Nolumus Mutari

Nolumus Mutari

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.

Some of the paintings in the dining hall

Some of the paintings in the dining hall

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.

The gong to announce dinner

The gong to announce dinner

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 reading room

The reading room

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.

View of the gallery

View of the gallery

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.

Detail of the plasterwork

Detail of the plasterwork

The present library building was completed in 1830 and houses some 100,000 volumes including those which formed the original collection, purchased in 1787.

Not your usual light reading

Not your usual light reading

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.

Nolumus Mutari

well read weighty words

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.

Throwing light on the subject

Throwing light on the subject

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.

I walked all the way down and. up again, but didn't  count them.

I walked all the way down and. up again, but didn’t count them.

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.

Bound copies of The Times newspapers

Bound copies of The Times newspapers

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.

Inner sanctum for the benchers

Inner sanctum for the benchers

Some decorative details:

decorative ceiling detail

decorative ceiling detail

ceiling light

ceiling light

Ceiling rose

Ceiling rose

One surprise was a garderobe:

a garderobe

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.

classy towel holder

classy 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 1

Gallery 2

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!

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18 thoughts on “A very special day

  1. you seem to have had a really wonderful day with your friends. I enjoyed the ‘walk through’ with you; what a beautiful and interesting place – The Honorable Society of King’s Inns. (I agree, I too liked the towelholder – but the books, oh….!!!) Carina 🙂

    • Carina, I had a difficult job deciding what photos to leave out. I had plenty more photos of the books, but wanted to give a flavour of the whole place.That day was a highlight of my three weeks in Dublin.

  2. I’d never seen the word “garderobe” before but I know what it reminded me of. A quick sidetrip to Wikipedia says I was right! Such a classy way to go! 😆

  3. As much as I like to see architecture, I would have instantly been digging in the book shelves. Books are so amazing to me, one never has enough time to see and read all the ones on the lists.

    • Brighid, quite a few of my friends would be in the queue with you. Mind you, you would need to bring a pair of white protective gloves>

  4. What a wonderful portrait of your day out which grew as you went along…yes books sure look interesting – old and well loved 🙂

      • As a current student at University, last Semester I utilised a book that was published in 1953 which certainly gave my other references a lot of valuable information…the book wasn’t in very good condition but it was the library shelves with many softcover books that might not last as well…

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