Four Courts, Dublin Ireland


Since 1921 the Four Courts, Inns Quay, Dublin has suffered continuing failure, and in February 2016 Harrison Goldman was appointed to assist the Office of Public Works in carrying out investigations into the condition of the capitols and cornices to the peristyle.

Designed by Thomas Cooley, work on the Four Courts building commenced in 1776. Following Cooley’s death, the architect James Gandon was appointed and the building as we see it today was completed in 1796.

During the Civil War 300-400 men of the anti-treaty Republican Force, led by Rory O’Connor, occupied Four Courts on the 15th April 1922.

On 29th June 1922 Michael Collins advised the provisional government to attack the building to end the siege by dislodging the rebels. The attack was carried out using artillery borrowed from the British.

Despite the shelling of the building, which was completely gutted, the structure of the building was still standing. However the timber domed copper covered roof was destroyed, leaving the round hall beneath completely ruined, together with the Portland stone columns to the peristyle, which were shattered by the shelling and damaged by the heat.

The 24 Corinthian capitols seated on top of the columns and supporting the peristyle, also suffered damage from the shelling and heat.

Although the Portland stone columns were replaced the damage to the Corinthian capitols only affected the exposed carved faces. During 1925-26 new Portland stone columns were erected and the Corinthian capitols were rotated 180° exposing the undamaged face. Two capitols had been completely destroyed and were replaced using cast stone.

Repairs carried out during the 1920s were starting to deteriorate with problems being reported and repairs carried out to the entablature and capitols in 1942.

Problems continued with the stonework through the 1940s, 50s and 60s and some repairs were carried out, however in 2011 a section of one of the column capitol fell on to the roof of the Four Courts below. The Office of Public Works appointed Trinity College School of Engineering to undertake analysis and testing of the stone.


Harrison Goldman’s investigation considered in detail the work carried out by the Engineering Department of Trinity College. This work involved close inspections of all the existing stonework and the preparation of a detailed reports and annotated drawings, identifying the capitols that needed replacing, with proposals for the remedial work to the Portland stone cornice to the peristyle and the granite parapet. The worst damaged capitols identified were replaced.


Produced by:
Harrison Goldman ©
December 2021