Cahir Davitt (1894-1986), Circuit Judge of the Dáil Courts, attempts to stop Kangaroo Courts during Civil War, President of the High Court in Ireland and action over ‘Revenhill Incident’ 1954, Belfast, to prevent breakup ol All Ireland Rugby.



Cahir Davitt, the son of Michael Davitt, of Land League fame, as a young barrister was appointed a Circuit Judge of the Dáil Courts. In one case referred to him a Church of Ireland family was ousted from their holding by squatters, he gave judgement in favour of the original family. The squatters were given 7 days notice by the local IRA Commandant and the rightful owners were restored to their holding.

He was appointed by Kevin O’Higgins to head up the Army Legal Service. At that time lawlessness reigned. The RIC had been disbanded and the Gardaí had not yet taken up duty. His recollections for the Military History provide a chilling insight of the prevalence of ‘Drum Head’ Tribunals and ‘Kangaroo Courts’ which by any interpretation were completely illegal but backed by the Free State Army. He succeeded in enforcing the rule of law.

cahir Davitt Judge 2

Later a Circuit Court Judge he was appointed to the High Court and ended up as President. Some of his judgements were reflective of the prevailing Catholic Ethos that predominated official life in the period in the Southern Irish State.

In 1954 Ireland as due to play England at Rugby in Belfast at Ravenhill. Some 10 of the Southern players were upset at the prospect as having to stand for ‘God Save the Queen’ and were refusing to to take to the field. This rapidly escalated and had the potential to split Irish Rugby. Cahir Davitt was a senior IRFU official and addressed the players as did Sarsfield Hogan also a barrister by training and an Assistant Secretary at the Department of Finance. They pointed out to the players that Northern Players habitually stood for ‘Ámhrán na bhFiainn’ in Lansdowne Road in Dublin and the IRFU was one of the few all Ireland organisations. Just 15 minutes before the start the players relented and the match was played. The incident had been largely airbrushed from the official histories. A piece by Vic Rugby and Liam O’Callaghan in ‘Ordinary Irish Life’ 2003, irish Academic Press goes into the detail of the incident.