The Courthouse was built in the year 1782 to replace the former one that had stood there for over two hundred years, as it was destroyed by fire. Sir Richard Morrison, an architect of some local celebrity, designed the Courthouse. He was one of Gandon's pupils and President of the Institute of Architects. Sir Richard was born in Cork in the year 1767. He was at first employed in the Government Service in the Ordnance Department but afterwards devoted himself to private engagements.

He erected many important buildings throughout Ireland - the Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital in Dublin, the County Courthouses in Carlow, Clonmel, Dundalk, Galway, Maryborough, Naas, Roscommon and Waterford - which gives an idea of his great work. He was knighted in the year 1841 by Queen Victoria and died on the 31st October 1849. He was 82 years of age. The old library, which was attached to the Courthouse, was the original Maryborough jail or Bridewell. It was the scene of public executions until the early-19th century. Due to overcrowding in the jail, a new one was built on the Dublin Road in the year 1830. The old jail became a Bridewell and police barracks. The Police Constabulary was formed shortly before this by Sir Robert Peel, M.P. for the Royal City of Cashel. Many famous trials took place at the Courthouse, including the trial of the Very Rev. Fr. McFadden of Gweedore, Co. Donegal and the trial of Moore the Murderer.

Before the opening of each trial there was a military parade through the town. The Courthouse was the first place for the inaugural meeting of the Queen's County Council in 1899. The first resolution passed was a demand for Home Rule. Patrick A. Meehan was its first Chairman.

An addition was added to the Courthouse in the year 1911 to conceal the area where public hangings took place, which is opposite the building that was formerly Hipwell's - a very old grocery. Jeremiah Grant, the Highwayman, was the last man to be hanged in Maryborough. On the 16th August 1816, the execution took place in front of the old jail of Maryborough in the presence of a vast multitude of spectators, who had assembled from all parts of the country.

Courtesy of Laois Heritage Society Yearbook

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