Why Not Return District Courthouse to Castleisland ?

Last Sitting: Judge James O'Connor pictured on the occasion of the final sitting of Castleisland District Court in the 'Old Library' in December 2011. ©Photograph: John Reidy 22-12-2011
Last Sitting: Judge James O’Connor pictured on the occasion of the final sitting of Castleisland District Court in the ‘Old Library’ in December 2011. ©Photograph: John Reidy 22-12-2011

The Irish Times reported on Wednesday that Judge James O’Connor hit out at the state of Tralee Court-house on District Court days there.
Judge O’Connor criticised the noise and filth at the 180 year old Ashe Street building and cited the fact that it hadn’t seen an upgrade in more than a decade.
“The early 19th century structure – built to intimidate upon steps which rise high over Ashe Street in the heart of Tralee – certainly has an imposing facade, but it is one of the few courthouses in the country not to have received an internal overhaul in the past decade. There is no wheelchair access and office staff have had to move to rented offices because of health and safety and other issues,” according to the article.

Dáil Question
The poor state of the 1835 built courthouse has been the subject of council motions as well as a Dáil question in recent years,” it pointed out.
The Irish Times article also pointed out that Tralee was not among the seven courthouses to be rebuilt or refurbished in announcements in 2015 and there were no immediate plans for such refurbishment, the courts service said in November when the issue was raised at council level.
“It is now one of very few courthouses nationally not to have been upgraded in recent years.
The spokesman said the courthouse was originally built to intimidate, but that modern courthouses were built to accommodate,” the article concluded.

Why Not Castleisland?
Two buildings in Castleisland spring to mind immediately on reading that report. The Market House is awaiting a tenant of status and the District Court would find itself at home there.
There is ample car-parking spaces all around it; one of the most modern Garda Stations in the country is only a couple of hundred yards away; a hotel, a restaurant and a fine selection of pubs on its right and a restaurant on it’s left – not to mention more of the same throughout the town.
The building has a first floor room with a view out over the town and it was actually made for Court room activity. The building saw court-room action when it was dangerous and back in the heads-on-spikes times. Castleisland was made for this type of flux and it wasn’t just for flux sake. There was hard economic reasoning and community support structures behind it all. And remember that Castleisland had a District Court service right up to December of 2011.

Courtroom Facility

There was a courtroom facility built into our new Civic Offices at ‘The Library’ but that’s now re-designated and any spare space is wasted as filing rooms for material that really belongs in Tralee.
The second building is the former Aetna office block on the Tralee Road industrial Estate. Idle now since 2011, the building was purpose build and opened in 1988. It is equipped with all the sub-divided office spaces to facilitate the running of your average, busy court-house bustle.
And, it’s right under the nose of the same and afore mentioned 2015 opened Garda Station.
If the Court-house in Tralee is such a tip now – is there a glaring reason why the whole show couldn’t be moved to Castleisland?
Think of what it would do for the economy of the town again if it could be done. Maybe, in the light of Judge O’Connor’s lash at the facility in Tralee, it should be done.