25 May 2018

Adare Courthouse opens
again after many years

The courthouse in Adare has opened to the public after many years … it was designed by the architect William Fogerty (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

The former Adare Courthouse is an impressive stone building at the roundabout in the centre of this pretty village, where I stopped for lunch in yesterday afternoon [24 May 2018] on my way to speak at the launch of Patricia Byrne’s book in Limerick.

The courthouse in Adare was built in 1863, when its construction was financed by the 3rd Earl of Dunraven. It was designed by the Limerick-born architect William Fogerty and was built by M Walsh of Foynes.

The former courthouse is a Gothic-style two-storey building, built of cut-stone external limestone walls and a pitched slate roof, with cut limestone copings and cut limestone chimney stacks.

For many years, this protected structure had not functioned as a courthouse and was closed to the public until recently. But it was bought last year [2017] by the publican Charlie Chawke. Since then, it has been restored, with the ground floor incorporated into the neighbouring Aunty Lena’s bar and restaurant, and with a courtroom museum on the first floor that was opened last night.

This is a detached, six-bay, two-storey former courthouse. The symmetrical façade gives the appearance of a pair of houses, each with three bays and a central door. The domestic element is further underlined as the building was designed to accommodate a caretaker on the ground floor and with a constable’s room at the same level.

The unadorned limestone construction adds a certain austerity to the façade which gives the building a civic dimension. The austerity might have been relieved by the proposed clock tower that was part of Fogerty’s original plans.

The external staircase is another notable feature, and this is how the public accessed the court room on the first floor. The protected status relates not just to the building, but also to its ‘curtilage, fixtures and fittings.’

The fine stonework adds artistic interest and is indicative of the quality of craftsmanship used when it was being built. The building and its associated boundary walls make a notable addition to the streetscape and architectural heritage of Adare and it has additional significance because of its close links with local history and the Earls of Dunraven.

The external staircase provided public access to the court room on the first floor (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

William Fogerty (1833-1878), the architect, was born in Limerick, and practised in Limerick, London, New York and Dublin.

He was born in 1833 or 1834, the second son of John Fogerty of Limerick, and a younger brother of the architect Joseph Fogerty.

William was a student at Queen’s College, Cork, in 1850-1851, when he drew up a plan by CW Law for a new road to the college. He began practising as an architect in Limerick with his father in the 1850s, and was working from 97 George’s Street, Limerick, in 1861-1863, when he designed the courthouse in Adare.

His other works in Limerick include the Protestant Orphan Society Hall, the apse in the former Holy Trinity Church, Catherine Street, and the Tait Memorial Clock in Baker Place.

He moved to Dublin in 1863 or 1864, and he was working from offices at 23 Harcourt Street when he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (FRIAI) in 1863 and a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (FRIBA) in 1868.

After a tour of Italy with Thomas Henry Longfield, he moved in 1870 or 1871 to London, where his brother was already practising as an architect. There he practised from 8 Buckingham Street, The Strand.

From London, Fogerty emigrated to New York in 1872-1873, but he had returned to returning to Ireland by 1875, and he was President of the Association of Architects of Ireland in 1876-1877.

He announced in the Irish Builder on 1 March 1875 that he had resumed practice at 23 Harcourt Street. His works in Dublin include the Scots Presbyterian Church in Abbey Street.

He continued to practise from 23 Harcourt Street until his untimely death from smallpox at the age of 44 on 22 May 1878, having been ‘in excellent health up to the period of the fatal attack.’

He was buried in the graveyard at Saint Munchin’s Church, Limerick. He was survived by a young son, John Frederick Fogerty, who also became an architect.

The new courthouse museum in the former court room on the first floor opened to the public last night (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

The courthouse was used for sittings of the district court in Adare until 2009. Last night, the new museum on the first floor was opened to the public, and the ground floor is incorporated into the bar and restaurant at Aunty Lena’s. Different sections are labelled with names that recalls the past use of the building, such as ‘The Cell,’ and the wall are lined with legal-themed paintings and cartoons.

Upstairs, in the former courtroom, you can imagine yourself in the old courthouse, with striking, life-like representations of Judge Cyril Maguire and District Court Clerk Maurice Fitzgibbon.

The courtroom and the stairs are lined with presentations on Adare Manor and biographical details of successive Earls of Dunraven.

Edwin Richard Wyndham-Quin (1812-1871), 3rd Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, who built this courthouse, is credited alongside George Petrie with ‘laying the foundations of a sound school of archaeology’ in Ireland. He was involved with George Petrie, William Stokes, and other Irish archaeologists in the foundation of the Irish Archaeological Society in 1840, and of the Celtic Society in 1845.

As Viscount Adare, he was the Conservative MP for Glamorganshire (1837-1851). He succeeded his father as Earl of Dunraven in 1850, and converted to Roman Catholicism in 1855.

A portrait of the 3rd Earl of Dunraven in the former courtroom (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

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