Now one of Ireland’s most vibrant Arts Centres The Dock was built in 1824 to house the Carrick-on-Shannon Courthouse

Now one of Ireland’s most vibrant Arts Centres The Dock building was originally built to house the Carrick-on-Shannon Courthouse, one of a large number of County Court buildings constructed in Ireland in the early part of the nineteenth century. It was designed by William Farrell in the classical style that was popular at the time, as the centre for administration of justice and local government in the county. Though the exact date of its construction is unknown, Piggotts Directory of the 12th. August, 1824 refers to ‘a handsome Courthouse built upwards of two years ago’ adjacent to the county jail.

The Courthouse at Carrick-on-Shannon also housed the Grand Jury, which administered local government in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. From 1898 to 1994 it housed the chamber and offices of Leitrim County Council. The building continued to house the local authority and the courts during the twentieth century. However, like many similar buildings little maintenance works were carried out and over time the fabric of the building deteriorated seriously leading to local debate in the 1980’s and early 1990’s about the future of the building. The courts service in particular was very dissatisfied with the poor facilities and decaying condition of the building fabric. Demolition of the building was even raised as a possible option.  Thankfully that option was not taken!

The courts service and the local authority vacated the building in 1994 and it remained vacant until refurbished as “The Dock” Arts Centre which opened to the public on the 20th August, 2005.

Supported by Leitrim County Council as part of its arts service, The Dock was officially opened by Minister for The Arts, Sport and Tourism John O’ Donoghue on Thursday 14th September 2005 as Leitrim’s first integrated centre for the arts.

The inaugural exhibitions during September 2005 featured the work of artists Mike Bunn, Karl Burke, Mark Garry, Nick Miller, Hazel Walker, Derval Symes and Alice Lyons.  The first performance in the newly opened building was a production of Chapter Two by Beezneez Theatre Company on Wednesday 24th August.