As others have stated, it partly depends upon how busy the district court is in your area; it also depends upon how busy your solicitor is and your ability to prioritise your case with him/her; if you do decide to seek a solicitor.
The days each district court sits can be found here
e.g. district court 1, Buncrana has Civil Jurisdiction: Scheduled sitting days on
the Second Thursday in each month at 10.30 a.m.
&Fourth Tuesday in each month at 10.30 a.m. A phone call to the local district office may shed further light as to whther family law hearings have a specific time in the day here.
A minimum of 21 days notice is required notifying the mother of the scheduled hearing date and time. Therefore, in theory, with a solicitor who can turn it around quick and if the date of hearings fall right it could be done within 4 weeks.
Of course emergency applications to the court can also be turned around in a couple of days by a good solicitor.
I'm not too fond of Con Pendred's value judgement on the quality of parenting, rather than guardianship, by an unmarried father being important in child removal cases. As the recent Supreme court case in which an unmarried father's 3 children were snatched to england by the mother shows, the quality of his parenting wasn't in question; it was his lack of legal guardianship that made the children snatching legal.