Lawyer, academic and founder of Irish Hospice Foundation

Mary Redmond: August 25th, 1950 - April 6th, 2015


Dr Mary Redmond, who has died aged 64, was a corporate lawyer, academic and founder of a number of charities, most notably the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF).

The chief executive officer of the foundation, Sharon Foley, described her as “an inspirational and visionary leader” who had “foresight, determination and generosity of spirit”.

In 2004, St Francis Hospice in Raheny inaugurated the annual Mary Redmond Foundation Lecture as a tribute to her work in the area.

Mary Redmond grew up in Donnybrook in Dublin. Her father, Dr Seán Réamonn, was a civil servant who became chairman of the Revenue Commissioners. He wrote a number of books on taxation and in retirement translated the Spanish mystic poets into Irish and English. Her mother, Máire Lannin, from near Schull, worked in the Civil Service Commission until her marriage in 1943. Head girl She first went to school at the Dominican Convent (Muckross) but most of her schooling took place at Loreto in St Stephen’s Green. She was head girl, won a prize for Latin at her Leaving Certificate in 1967and founded the school’s St Anthony’s Society to build accommodation for the elderly of the neighbourhood. She was a champion debater in both Irish and English. For a period in the 1970s, she was a presenter on RTÉ’s Féach programme.

She studied law at University College Dublin, obtaining first class honours in her BCL degree at the age of 19. She was appointed a lecturer in employment law in the college at that young age. She obtained her masters in law in UCD and also qualified as a solicitor.

Following further studies at Oxford University, she transferred to Cambridge in 1978, obtaining a PhD in 1980 with a thesis on “The Law Relating to Dismissal in Ireland”.

She was a fellow and director of studies in law at Christ’s College, Cambridge from 1981 to 1986 and in 2004 that college elected her an honorary fellow.

In 1985, she married Patrick Ussher, at that time a lecturer in law at Trinity College Dublin. Their son, Patrick, was born in 1989.

Dr Redmond was widely regarded as possessing one of the keenest minds of her generation. She wrote a number of important textbooks, including one on dismissal law, which were to be extensively used by fellow legal practitioners for many years.

When she returned to Ireland in 1986, she resumed her own legal practice and afterwards merged it with the Arthur Cox law firm. For Arthur Cox, she became a consultant in corporate law, advising some of the largest Irish companies.

Board appointments

The long illness of her father made her aware of the shortage of hospice space and in 1985 she set up the IHF, which established St Francis Hospice in Raheny, only the second such institution to be founded in Ireland. The hospice movement has grown enormously as a result of the foundation’s work.

Dr Redmond established The Wheel in 1999, to support, represent and connect community and voluntary organisations and charities all over Ireland. It has developed into a resource centre and forum for the community and voluntary sectors.

She became ill with cancer about six years ago and in 2013 published The Pink Ribbon Path (Columba Press), written to help women like her who had gone through or were going through breast cancer.

Last year she also published Marlena: The Fairy Princess - Making Friends (illustrated by Dolores Keaveney), a story about fairies whose home was disturbed by the building of the Luas rail network.

Both of these books are published under her married name, Mary Ussher.

She was a keen painter and enjoyed Irish traditional and classical music and gardening.

Through her son’s interest in cricket she became for a time a member of the governing body of Cricket Ireland and helped forge links with Indian cricket.

Catholic faith

The Pink Ribbon Path

She is survived by her husband, lawyer Patrick Ussher, her son, Patrick, her mother, Máire Redmond, sisters Mairéad, Catherine, Gerardine and Janice (her sister Imelda predeceased her), her brother, Liam, and her stepdaughters, Kitty, Felicity and Charlotte.

An earlier marriage was dissolved.