Carlow Courthouse had fallen into disrepair over a number of years, and Deaton Lysaght Architects were appointed in 1994 to advise on the building’s repair and refurbishment. They won an Irish Architecture Regional Award for their work in 2001.
The client has said that “the Courthouse is a very prominent and important building in the town. The appearance of the façade and podium was very poor due to deterioration of the stonework. Under the architect’s direction the facades were cleaned and repaired. The building is once again a showpiece in the town of which all concerned can be justifiably proud.”
The Courthouse, a protected structure, was designed by William Vitruvius Morrison in 1828-1832, and construction was completed in 1834. The design was based on Robert Smirk's Shire Hall in Gloucester, and consists of a columned Ionic portico forming the entrance, flanked by large bays which contain the two courtrooms.
The courtrooms are double-height spaces with recessed galleries and are lighted by means of giant lunettes. The flat roof, entirely concealed from the exterior, contains the roof lanterns by which the inner rooms (judges' rooms, jury rooms, etc) are lit. The building is set on a raised podium of granite, and the facades are also in smooth dressed granite facings, with the return block finished in lime render with granite dressings.
The works at Carlow Courthouse were carried out in two phases. Phase one comprised the carrying out of internal alterations including the removal of internal toilets, re-ordering of the entrance hall and two main courtrooms, and provision of judges' chambers and jury room in their original location. New staircases to basement-level toilets were inserted into the corners of the entrance hall. This work was completed in 1997.
In the second phase, the external granite stonework was cleaned, the rear annex building was completely refurbished and re-plastered using lime plaster, and the basement area was refurbished and put into use as a family law court. A lift was installed at the junction of the rear return, enabling disabled access to all parts of the building. This work was completed in 2000.