St Michans (Dublin)

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Green Street Courthouse aka the Dublin City Sessions House (b. 1797) was the venue of a number of historic trails (including Robert Emmet in 1803, and John Mitchel in 1848). As well as holding trials, the Sessions House held different courts, including:

  • the Dublin Commission Court (for the city and county, similar to the assizes held in other Irish counties),
  • the city Quarter Sessions,
  • the Courts of the Lord Mayor,
  • the Courts of the Sheriff,
  • and the Courts of the Recorder.

and its complex also included: 

  • Newgate Prison (completed 1781) located at the New Gate of the city wall, replaced the original county gaol; 
  • the Sheriff's Prison (completed 1794),
  • and the City Marshalsea (completed 1804)
  • and the Governor of Newgate's residence.

Excerpt from Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland for the metropolis of Dublin in 1837.

The Sessions-house, in Green-street, opened for business in 1797, is ornamented in front with a central pediment and cornice supported by six engaged columns rising from a broad platform, to which is an ascent by a flight of steps extending along the whole front of the building, and on each side of the centre are the doors of entrance to the court-rooms; in another front, corresponding with this, in Halston-street, are the entrances to the apartments occupied by the agents during contested elections. The interior is spacious, lofty, and well-arranged; the ceiling is supported by Ionic columns. In this building are held the court of quarter sessions, the court of oyer and terminer, the lord mayor's and sheriffs' court, and the recorder's court.

Newgate: The principal prison for malefactors of all classes is Newgate, situated near the sessions-house, in Green-street. It is a square building, flanked at each angle by a round tower with loop-hole windows. The interior is divided into two nearly equal portions by a broad passage with high walls on each side, having iron gates at intervals, through the gratings of which visiters may converse with the prisoners; the cells are neither sufficiently numerous nor large nor is the prison well adapted for due classification. A chapel attached to it is attended by three chaplains; one of the Established Church, one of the R. C. and one of the Presbyterian religion.

The Sheriffs' Prison, in Green-street, was built in 1794, and occupies three sides of a quadrangle with an area in the centre, which is used as a ball-court; it is visited by the chaplains of Newgate and a medical inspector.

The City Marshalsea, a brick building attached to the preceding, is designed for prisoners committed from the lord mayor's court for debts under £10, and from the court of conscience.

The Smithfield Penitentiary is appropriated to the confinement of juvenile convicts not exceeding 19 years of age; it is visited by three chaplains, and inspected by the divisional magistrates; an efficient classification is observed, and all the prisoners are regularly employed.

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