Chief Justice to preside at opening of €8.5 million, newly refurbished, courthouse in Monaghan ...
The Hon. Mr. Justice John L. Murray, Chief Justice of Ireland presided at the official opening of Monaghan Courthouse, by the Minister for Justice & Law Reform Mr. Brendan Smith T.D. on Monday, 21st February 2011.
The Chief Justice in his speech at the opening said, "This courthouse will stand for decades, indeed for centuries to come, not only as a seat of justice but as a monument to the history of Monaghan and a jewel in the heritage of its people".
The old building and history
Monaghan courthouse is a 2,037 square metre, five-bay, three-storey over basement protected structure of national and architectural importance built in the Grecian style in 1829. The courthouse occupies an important site in Monaghan town on the south side of Church Square. The building was largely destroyed by arson in 1981. Extensive damage was caused and few original architectural features of any significance were salvaged. Consequently, the interior character of the building was lost during the 1985 restoration.
Works and facilities
The refurbishment was completed with considerable attention given to the sandstone exterior of the building in an effort to restore it to its original condition. Three sets of main entrance doors have been re-instated in the front facade. The entrance foyer has been re-modelled and lined with Carlow limestone and has an increased floor area from 31 to 86 square metres. A large glazed atrium roof-light illuminates the principle circulation area which is dominated by a new main public staircase.
The stair, constructed in Irish oak, now serves all floors including three refurbished modern courtrooms. The basement area has been re-designed to provide secure holding rooms and designated Prison Service accommodation. All electrical, mechanical, security and fire services have been updated to comply with current legislation.
The preservation of this important historic building contributes not only to the townscape of Monaghan but also to our national heritage. As well as staff accommodation, offices, and a legal practitioners' room, the facilities include consultation rooms which provide for the dignity and privacy of those who need to consult with their lawyers. Two of the courtrooms are large jury courtrooms and the third serves as a family court. It will be possible to hold not only local District Court and Circuit Court hearings in the building but also hearings of the High Court and Central Criminal Court, if such need arises.
The installation of a new lift and careful design of public spaces ensures the building is universally accessible for public and staff. The courtrooms have also been re-designed to provide universal access for persons with mobility difficulties. New signage has also been designed with accessibility in mind and induction loops have been installed in the courtrooms for use by users of hearing aids.
Project leaders and cost
The design was led by Office of Public Works architects. The main contractor for the refurbishment was John Sisk & Son. The total cost of the design, build, and fit-out of the newly refurbished and extended facilities is €8.5 million. The project was completed a month ahead of schedule - with works taking place between June 2009 and August 2010.