This was part of the radical overhaul of the Irish Justice system post Independence ebay the Free State Government.

They abolished the Magistrates who still sit in Northern Ireland,  This was praised by the former Lord Chancellor Ignatious O’Brien, (Baron Shandon 1857-1930).

When the lord chancellor, Redmond John Barry, retired in 1913 O’Brien was appointed to the vacant post. While he was a hard worker he was neither diplomatic nor forceful enough to be truly effective, and was notorious for his long-winded and self-important judgments. His judicial philosophy favoured sweeping aside precedent and technicalities in favour of substantive justice as he saw it; hence he was on good terms with Peter O’Brien (qv), though he disapproved of his politics, and at odds with Christopher Palles (qv), though he acknowledged Palles’s eminence as a jurist. He greatly enjoyed the social side of his office and the ceremonies and amusements of the viceregal court.

O’Brien was nearly ousted as lord chancellor in 1915 in favour of James Campbell (qv) by the first coalition government – his removal was also sought by T. M. Healy and William O’Brien (qv) (1852–1928) – but was retained after a public outcry orchestrated by the Redmondites, which threatened to affect American public opinion.

He expressed guarded optimism for the future of the Irish Free State, and admired the government of W. T. Cosgrave (qv), praising such decisions as the replacement of JPs by paid district justices and the creation of an unarmed police force. He emerges from its pages as a sensitive and somewhat neurotic meritocrat, haunted at the sufferings inflicted by inefficiency, and believing that the great fault of British administration of Ireland under the union was not so much brutality as stupidity.

The reminiscences of Ignatius O’Brien, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, 1913-18

A life in Cork, Dublin and Westminster

Daire Hogan & Patrick Maume, editors

Hardback €49.50

Catalogue Price: €55.00

ISBN: 978-1-84682-871-3

September 2021. 330pp; ills.

Ignatius O’Brien was the youngest son of a struggling Cork business family. After somewhat unhappy experiences at a Cork Vincentian school and the Catholic University of Ireland, he studied to become a barrister while supporting himself as a reporter on Dublin newspapers. Over time he built up a reputation in property and commercial law, and an ultimately successful career led to him being appointed a law officer and later lord chancellor under the post-1906 Liberal governments. 

Bram Stoker apart from writing, Dracula  was a qualified Barrister and spent 12 years as a Civil Servant in Dublin Castle.  When he resigned he was Inspector of Petty Session Clerks.  His guide “The duties of clerks of petty sessions in Ireland’  was used in the Irish District Courts until the mid 1930s

Peace Commissioners


Peace Commissioners are appointed (and may be removed from that appointment) by the Minister for Justice under Section 88 of the Courts of Justice Act 1924. The powers and duties of Peace Commissioners consist primarily of:

  • Taking statutory declarations
  • Witnessing signatures on documents if required by various authorities
  • Signing certificates and orders under various Acts

The Courts of Justice Act 1924 gives Peace Commissioners the power to issue summons and warrants. These powers are less frequently used these days. Applications for search warrants should be made to the local District Court.


1923 Appointment of Peace Commissioners Cork City and County.   Ignatious O’Brien (Baron Shandon) former Lord Chancellor approval of Free State Government Abolition of Magistrates.  Bram Stoker The duties of clerks of petty sessions in Ireland