Sunday 19 November 2017

Judge Carney recalled as 'a devoted servant of the law' at his funeral

The remains of Judge Paul Carney are carried from the church
The remains of Judge Paul Carney are carried from the church
Mary Harney and husband Brian Geoghegan were at the funeral of Judge Paul Carney at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook

It was the last time his wig was produced in a public forum.

At the funeral service of High Court judge Mr Justice Paul Carney in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook, the late judge's wig was presented by his daughter Rosalind.

The well-known judge always wore his wig in court - even when it was no longer a requirement to do so.

Laughter rang out throughout the church as chief celebrant Monsignor Lorcan O'Brien, noted Judge Carney "would not be parted" from the wig.

Msgr O'Brien said Judge Carney was "a devoted servant of the law" for 50 years of his life.

As the country's most senior criminal law judge, he "knew better than most about human sin and evil and depravity", Msgr O'Brien told mournersincluding Judge Carney's widow Dr Marjorie Young and their children Rosalind, Philip, Jules and Jonathan.

"In the face of that knowledge he remained a wise and just man," said Msgr O'Brien in his homily, adding that the late judge must have accepted trials during his long tenure on the bench - including some of the most serious criminal law cases to come before our courts - "at some significant cost to himself".

Judge Carney, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last November, reluctantly retired from the bench last April after reaching the age of 72.

Almost all judges of the Superior Courts (Supreme, Court of Appeal and High Court) attended the funeral service as well as many judges from the Circuit and District Courts.

Judges, serving and retired, who attended included the Chief Justice Mrs Justice Susan Denham, former Chief Justices Mr Justice Ronan Keane and Mr Justice John L Murray as well as the President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns and his wife Eleanor.

Retired Supreme Court judge Mrs Justice Catherine Mc Guinness, Brendan Ryan, the CEO of the Courts Service, David Barniville SC, Chairman of the Bar Council and Ken Murphy, Director General of the Law Society, were also present.

Director of Public Prosecutions Claire Loftus, and Minister for Communications Alex White, former Tanaiste Mary Harney, former leader of the Progressive Democrats Des O'Malley, and former Minister Pat Rabbitte were also in attendance.

The President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were represented by their respective Aides-De-Camp Colonel Michael Kiernan and Commandant David Foley.


Symbols of the late judge's life, including his wig, were brought to the altar.

Other symbols included Judge Carney's conferring parchment, a radio "to which his ear was usually attuned" and a Swedish book representing his early life and family - Judge Carney lived in Sweden for two years as a child with his parents, both celebrated Celtic scholars.

Retired solicitor John Rochford said Judge Carney was a "very fair" man who had successfully advocated for the abolition of the verdict of guilty but insane for murder offences and had supported a change to our homicide laws to encourage more guilty pleas.

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