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From: "Riobard O' Dwyer" <>
Subject: THE JUDGE HELD HIS COURT SITTING ON A BOUNDARY FENCE !!
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 1999 10:05:21 -0000


Dick (or Richard) Adams was no ordinary Judge. His wit was a mixture of humour and acerbity; his method of solving problems was unorthodox, to say the least. Born in Castletownbere in the Beara Peninsula in January 1843 to a father Brian who was a Customs Officer and Port Surveyor there, and to a mother Fanny who was a sister of Doctor O'Donovan of Skibbereen, Dick was first educated in the local Brandy Hall Primary School where one of his teachers was my great-grandfather's first cousin Master William O'Dwyer, a master teacher, who taught his pupils not alone the usual syllabus subjects, but also geology, astronomy, Latin, Greek, trigonometry and navigation. Master William was described as "a thin, hardy, bony, cutting man with springy legs and a great span" and wore a goatee beard. He moved through his class like a Caribbean hurricane and was known to all and sundry as "Fury the Goat" !!
Dick, like a number of Master O'Dwyer's pupils later, could have gone on to become a sea-captain or master mariner, but he decided that his career lay on "terra firma" (or firm ground). After passing through Queen's College (now University College) in Cork City, he spent some time as a journalist with a Cork City newspaper and with "Freeman's Journal". He then studied Law and was called to the Irish Bar in 1873. Shortly after that he went on the Munster Circuit and very soon became noted for his quick wit and humour.
One time a Magistrate with whom Dick "did not see eye to eye" remarked:
"Mr. Adams, I cannot see your point", to which Dick promptly retorted: "No Sir ?! Perhaps the sun is in your eyes !"
In 1892 Dick was made County Court Judge for Limerick. He once refused to hold a sitting of his court on Good Friday, remarking: "I don't want to emulate the example of Pontius Pilate who held his court on Good Friday !"
At one Quarter Sessions in Limerick he received a report of an alarming increase in the number of cases of drunkeness. "Alas", said Dick, "Limerick is no longer to be called the City of the Broken Treaty. It is now the City of the Broken Pledge !"
On another occasion he held part of a court case sitting on a boundary fence in Co. Limerick. News of this extraordinary happening spread to many countries of Europe, and from there to the United States and Australia. The climax came when Dick received an Australian paper in which was a cartoon representing a villainous -
looking ruffian with a caubeen (or cap) on his head, a dudeen (or clay pipe) in his mouth, his legs straddled across a fence, and an inscription underneath: "How Justice is Administered in Ireland !!" RIOBARD.

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