Beyond 2022, with the Courts Service and the National Archives of Ireland, recently marked the centenary of the occupation of the Four Courts 1922 with their live-streamed event, Inside the Railings: A Portrait of Life within the Public Record Office of Ireland on Thurs 14th April 2022. One hundred years ago, Anti-Treaty forces occupied the Four Courts and the Public Record Office of Ireland. Ten weeks later, the stand-off ended with the Battle of the Four Courts and the opening engagement of the Civil War. Three days of fighting between the National Army and the Anti-Treaty garrison left many dead and wounded and the Four Courts were destroyed along with centuries of historic records.
Inside the Railings, portrays life before the destruction of the Four Courts through a selection of short talks, rarely-seen photographs of daily life at the time, and engaging eyewitness accounts. Speakers at the event included:
During the talks, The Hon. Mr. Justice Donal O’Donnell, Chief Justice, spoke on the impact the occupation had on the Courts and the friction between the offices of the First Chief Justice of the Irish Free State, Hugh Kennedy and Sir Thomas Moloney, the last Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. Dr Zoë Reid, Keeper of the Public Services and Collections in the National Archives, continued the talks with an in-depth presentation on office life in the Public Record Office prior to the destruction. She includes many photos showcasing the office workers from the Mills Album in 1914.
Ciarán Wallace, Deputy Director of Beyond 2022, gave an engaging presentation depicting the lives of ordinary people in Ireland during the occupation. His talk gives an indication of what daily life was like in 1922 through a series of captivating photographs. The talks were also interspersed with short videos from Shona Gibson and Sadhbh Malin at the Lir National Academy of Dramatic Art, providing another perspective on the lives of the people at the time. Maura Howe, Head of Communications and the Office of the CEO with The Courts Service of Ireland, concluded the event with the programme of commemorations planned in the coming months.
Inside the Railings was live-streamed from the Reading Room of the former Public Record Office and can be watched here: Inside the Railings: A Portrait of Life within the Public Record Office of Ireland
The event is part of the Decade of Centenaries Programme 2013-2023.
Beyond 2022 is an all-island and international collaborative research project, funded by the Government of Ireland, working to create a virtual reconstruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland, which was destroyed in the opening engagement of the Civil War on June 30th, 1922. The project involves Computer Science research, along with research in History and Archival Studies, to provide greater access to Ireland’s deep history.