Dara McCormack

 

Dara McCormack, a senior executive of the Central Bank, died suddenly on Friday, March 29th at the age of 53.

His distinguished career began in Belvedere College. The Jesuits inculcated in their pupils, by example not just by words, a respect for rigorous thinking, industriousness, independence of mind and a capacity to enjoy their work. This approach to education suited Dara to perfection and he left Belvedere with a motivation for study and a love of literature which lasted throughout his life.

He studied economics at University College Dublin and he soon became known around Earlsfort Terrace as a bright and witty undergraduate, much better informed than most and a brilliant mimic. While reading widely outside the prescribed course, in law and politics as well as economics, he concentrated sufficiently to obtain a succession of firsts. After graduation in 1962, he was awarded a scholarship at the Economic Research Institute (now the ESRI) where he completed his MA thesis, again with first class honours.

There followed a travelling studentship to Harvard, then as now, broader ranging in its approach to economics than other graduate schools. Graduate life in Boston proved very congenial. Among his new friends were fellow students, diplomats, poets, librarians, booksellers and academic "greats". It was during this time he met his wife Jerusha, a graduate student of English literature.

From Harvard he went to the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC and three years later in 1971, he was persuaded to return to Dublin to the Central Bank. Apart from a three year spell as executive director of the IMF (1986-89), he spent the remainder of his career with the bank, rising from economist to membership of the bank's management board.

During the 1970s, he built up the bank's economics team, recruiting with prescient skill some of the best applied economists in the country who went on to construct one of Ireland's early macro models. The work connected with the model led to import ant new perspectives on Irish economic policy, some of which were brilliantly delineated in Dara's paper in the winter 1979 Central Bank Quarterly Bulletin.

A central banker cannot expect popular acclaim. The constraints of banker client confidentiality decree that successes receive no public acknowledgement. But all who knew Dara's work would agree that it was characterised by an understanding of economics and finance, accuracy of expression, imagination and judgment of a quite exceptional quality.

But Dara was much more than a successful central banker. He was an elegant writer, drafter par excellence of speeches and papers, and a learned man with an immense range of interests. He loved books and poetry. His hobby was the history of Irish economic thought. He was deeply intellectual ideas and mode of expressing them mattered to him. Yet for all that he had an easy way with people and a demotic touch. He had a genuine passion for sport and was a regular at Croke Park and Lansdowne Road. He affirmed the good things of life and, without being in any way pretentious, he revered excellence. His warm and challenging personality attracted an astonishingly wide range of friends and acquaintances. Small wonder the huge attendance at University Church for his funeral, the procession of visitors to his home for the wake, and the overwhelming affection shown by the people of Kilfenora where he was buried.

Modest and self critical, Dara was an incredibly good listener and the most loyal of friends. He leaves behind an anguished family: Jerusha whose love and companionship were a constant refuge, his beloved sons David and Thomas, and his sister Emer. Dublin's economics and banking community mourns the loss of a percipient and erudite colleague. His friends are dismayed by the untimely passing of one whose conversation, wisdom and repartee gave such comfort and fun over the years and their hearts go out to his lovely and courageous family on their tragic loss.