Paul Anthony McDermott a ‘fantastic father’ with ‘great sense of justice’, funeral hears

Barrister had ‘extraordinary grá for life, for his family, for his work and for his students’

Barrister Paul Anthony McDermott was remebered as a “fantastic father” and a person with “a great sense of justice” during his funeral Mass in Dublin.

Newman University Church in St Stephen's Green was packed to overflowing on Saturday for the service to remember the 47-year-old, who in his relatively short life became one of Ireland's best-known legal experts, a lecturer and a broadcaster and newspaper columnist of note.

President Michael D Higgins, Chief Justice Frank Clarke, Attorney General Séamus Wolfe SC and Director of Public Prosecutions Claire Loftus were among those in attendance.

The Mass took place in the same church where Mr McDermott married his wife, Annick and they baptised their sons, Harry and Andrew.


Chief celebrant Fr Thomas Clowe described Mr McDermott as an "exemplary family man" and a "fantastic father". He prayed that Harry and Andrew would remember their father's love for them.

Fr Clowe said Mr McDermott had an “extraordinary grá for life, for his family, for his work and for his students” and was somebody who was “looked up to ” as a result of his “great mind and a great sense of justice”.

He had a gift for explaining difficult legal concepts in a way that was accessible to the general public, which came from a great love for language.

“As a writer, he had great wit and he was a blessed with a great mind,” the priest said.

Mr McDermott died from cancer last week at St James’s Hospital. He had never sought to complain about his illness and the staff in the hospital were “absolutely astounded at what a gentleman he was”, Fr Clowe added.

The readings reflected the brevity of Mr McDermott’s life. His brother James read from the Book of Isaiah: “The virtuous man, though he dies before his time, will find rest. Length of days is not what makes age honourable”.

Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Peter Charleton, a friend of Mr McDermott's, read from St Paul's letter to Timothy. "I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith".

Among the congregation were Supreme Court judge Mr Justice John MacMenamin and former Supreme Court judges Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan and her husband Mr Justice Hugh Geoghegan. The president of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and his colleagues Mr Justice Maurice Collins and Mr Justice Brian Murray were also present.

High Court judges Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty, Mr Justice Paul McDermott and Mr Justice David Barniville attended as did former attornies general Michael McDowell, Dermot Gleeson and Paul Gallagher and former minister and senior counsel Alex White.

Judge Anthony Collins of the European Court of First Instance attended as did retired European court judge Aindrias Ó Caoimh. The chairman of the Bar Council Micheál P O'Higgins was among a large number of senior counsel at the funeral as were Paul Gardiner, Brian Kennedy, Seán Guerin, Jonathan Newman, Cian Ferriter, Denise Brett, Shane Murphy, Tom O'Connell, Felix McEnroy and Rossa Fanning.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times