Ulster Folk Museum

Market and Courthouse

Ballycultra Town building 14

This is an original building. The combined market and courthouse was built on the south side of Mill Street, Cushendall, about 1858 by the local landlord, Mr Turnley. Having laid empty for some time, the Court House was dismantled and moved to the Folk Museum in 1979.

The building was important as the only market and legal centre for a large but sparsely populated area of north-east County Antrim.

The market accommodation on the ground floor is entered through a central archway with gates and a smaller round headed door to the left. On market days the ground floor provided limited covered space to sell agricultural produce.

The north end of the main building contains stairs leading up to the courtroom.  Behind the stairs on the ground floor is a single holding cell. Defendants were kept there while awaiting trial during a sitting of the court.

Restoration of the courthouse interior is based on the memories of a solicitor. He recalled his father, also a solicitor, defending clients in this courtroom. Beyond the courtroom is the magistrate’s retiring room with the only fireplace in the building.

The Cushendall Court house operated as Petty Session Court and as such would have been presided over by a Justice of the Peace. Offences brought before the Petty Sessions included minor theft, fighting, poaching, trespassing, drunkenness and making a public nuisance.

Look out for the holding cell where defendants awaited trial.

Also look at the extracts from the newspapers of the day depicting the sort of offences which would have been brought to the attention of the court.