Academic and lawyer Dr Mary Redmond dies

Founder of Hospice Foundation ‘had one of best brains of her generation’

Dr Mary Redmond: a corporate lawyer, academic, teacher  and founder of charities. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Dr Mary Redmond: a corporate lawyer, academic, teacher and founder of charities. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times


The corporate lawyer, academic and founder of a number of charities, including the Irish Hospice Foundation and the Wheel, Dr Mary Redmond has died, aged 64. Widely regarded as possessing one of the finest minds of her generation, she began teaching law at University College Dublin (UCD) when she was just 19 years old.

When she was conferred with an honorary Doctor in Laws (LL.D) by chancellor Mary Robinson in Trinity College Dublin last June, the citation divided her career into into three spheres – her academic achievements, corporate life and charitable activities.

She moved from UCD to study at both Oxford and Cambridge universities and was awarded a doctorate from Cambridge where she was a fellow from 1981, being made an honorary fellow in 2004. She wrote key textbooks, including one on dismissal law which was the bible for fellow lawyers and practitioners for many years.

On her return to Ireland in the mid-1980s, she resumed her own legal practice but subsequently merged it with law firm Arthur Cox. She became a consultant to the company, advising clients such as Aer Lingus and Ryanair.

In the corporate world, she was a deputy governor of the Bank of Ireland, a member of the board of Smurfit, a member of the RTÉ Authority, a director of Campbell Bewleys and a board member of Royal Liver Insurance. She also served consecutive terms on the Labour Relations Commission.

She was well known for her social entrepreneurship. It was the long illness of her late father Seán which brought to her attention the shortage of hospice space. In 1985, she set up the Irish Hospice Foundation which established St Francis Hospice in Raheny, only the second hospice available at that time. The Hospice Foundation is now the leader of the voluntary sector in hospice care.

In 1999, Dr Redmond established the Wheel, a support and representative body connecting community and voluntary organisations and charities across Ireland, which has evolved to become a resource centre and forum for the community and voluntary sector.

She became ill about six years ago and in 2013, published The Pink Ribbon Path (Columba Press), a book which details her journey living with cancer. She also wrote a children’s book called Marlena The Fairy Princess - Making Friends about fairies whose home was disturbed by the building of the Luas and as recently as last December, she toured the US to promote The Pink Ribbon Path. Both books were published under her married name Mary Ussher.

She is survived by her husband, lawyer Patrick Ussher, son Patrick, her mother Máire Redmond, sisters Mairéad, Catherine, Gerardine, Janice, brother Liam and her three stepdaughters Kitty, Felicity and Charlotte Ussher. Dr Redmond’s funeral is to be a private family gathering with a memorial service to be held at a later date.

*This article was amended on April 7th, 2015.