Ruling on law in Ballinrobe since the 18th century


Way back when
Ciara Galvin

BALLINROBE Court House stands large yet unassuming on the town’s Main Street.  
The clock is the only thing left on the building that is still being used. Revellers use it on a Saturday night to gauge if it is too late to go to the local nightclub, and shoppers check to see if their parking is up.
Yet, many passersby may not know about the building’s rich and colourful history.
In 1880 the notorious Captain Boycott agitators were tried for two weeks at the courthouse.
Ballinrobe was the location of the first court sitting after the foundation of the Irish Free State, the court sitting was unable to take place at the courthouse however as it was still under control of the British.
According to the late historian, Dr Sheila Mulloy, Ballinrobe courthouse is the only one in the country that still retains the original footprint and layout of the 1798 court.
Averil Staunton of confirms that drawings of the Boycott agitators trial that took place in 1880 show the courthouse as it was until 2009.
“Part of the building was a jail before the Ballinrobe Bridewell was built. The courthouse was built at the site of the original market house,” explained Ms Staunton.
The courthouse got a new claim to fame in 1970 when scenes from ‘Flight of the Doves’ were filmed in the courthouse. Streets of the town can also be seen in the film, along with an interior scene shot in the Market House Tavern owned by Dermot O’Connor, where Frank O’Donovan played the barman.
Many other locals took part as extras in some scenes in the film, including a courthouse scene with Mr Luke Higgins and Mr Harry Carthy, the local bank manager at the time who both took parts.
Sadly the courthouse closed in 2009, but plans are now afoot to develop the historical site into a tourism hub in the town which would include a heritage centre and museum.