Court offers tributes, applause and a smile for the late John Devane

Limerick Solicitor John Devane. Picture by Press 22.
Limerick Solicitor John Devane. Picture by Press 22.

A ROUND of applause followed tributes paid to the late John Devane at Limerick Circuit Court this Tuesday as colleagues and friends honoured the solicitor who died last weekend.

After leading the tributes, Judge Tom O’Donnell said that he was going to take the unusual step for the court in asking those in attendance to remember Mr Devane through a round of applause.

It was a fitting tribute after words from State prosecution counsel John O’Sullivan BL and solicitor Darach McCarthy in honour of the 54-year-old father of two.

Last Sunday morning, Mr Devane was found in his home at Blackwater, Ardnacrusha having passed away overnight.

He is to be laid to rest in Dingle on Thursday.

On Monday, tributes were held at Limerick District Court where Mr Devane practiced and had “epic battles” as an advocate of the law for all of his clients. The court then stood for a minute of silence.

The Janesboro native, who entered the legal world later in life after graduating from UCC as a mature student, represented many notable defendants over his career and was well known for giving everyone a “fighting chance no matter their background” in a trait that made him one of the most well known solicitors in Limerick.

More recently, Mr Devane had suffered a number of health setbacks but in 2016 returned to work after an 18 month stint recovering from a number of medical conditions.

Despite his medical setbacks, Mr Devane was always upbeat and ready to do battle in court where he loved the cut and thrust of the law and a trait, amongst many, he will be remembered by his friends and colleagues alike.

Citing many successes that Mr Devane had in the courts, many at a time when the odds were stacked against him in “taking on City Hall, to coin the phrase”, John O’Sullivan BL said on Tuesday that Mr Devane’s passing was a source of great sadness, “as in reality we thought he was getting better.

“A lot has been said about Mr Devane, but I would like to mention a few things and of course most notably, that he was a busy solicitor in Limerick and that is important not to forget.

After an apprenticeship with John Hayes solicitor, “John went out on his own and would be remembered for bounding in to the circuit court in the old Red Church with the exuberance of a less experienced practitioner possibly.

“It was before the late Judge Sean O’Leary who was indeed kind to John and understood that his enthusiasm was not yet tempered.

Mr O’Sullivan went on to note that the late solicitor referenced the important role of the judiciary in his book Nobody Heard Me Cry, and the court process which he was always very respectful of”.

The State prosecution counsel recalled the notable and “seminal” cases won by John Devane, a number of which “show the clear proof of his success as they made their way in to the law reports.

“The solicitors role is often more important that than that of the barrister and when John instructed counsel he did so for the benefit of his clients and would be willing to pursue a case to the highest court in the land if required.

“He was fearless and he had a tendency to mild mischief, but always respectful and acted cognisant in the administration of justice.

“Yes, John was well thought of at the bar”, Mr O’Sullivan said.

Mr O’Sullivan said that John was proud of his family connections and that his father was a native Dingle.

“John was proud of that and took great fun that they are connected to Gregory Peck”, a remark which drew a smile from those gathered in Limerick Circuit Court.

Mr O’Sullivan said that “we could not forget how John handled the complex series of illness and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

“He dealt with illnesses and disabilities with his characteristic of tenacity. John just kept going and ‘the show must go on’ was his motto.

Expressing condolences to Mr Devane’s family, John O’Sullivan said that the late solicitor was “always ably aided by his wife Julieann.

“I think of his courage and tenacity in later years his good humour and the man with that twinkle in his eye.”

Solicitor Darach McCarthy said that he “found it very hard to stand before the court to speak of John due to the sadness his passing brought.

“He was a massive character and no words could fill the gap in what we have to endure now over the coming weeks and months ahead.

“John Devane was a unique advocate of the law and in his absence things will be less colourful.
John often spoke off the cuff and sometimes that worked to his advantage but it was his ability to do that allowed him to battle to the end.

John Devane took on all clients and “never judged anyone, that wasn’t his job.

“He will be missed and we will think of with a smile”, Mr McCarthy said.

Judge O’Donnell said that Mr Devane, whom he knew from his days sitting at Limerick District Court, “ploughed a lone furrow as a colourful and sometimes controversial character while his passing will create a void in the legal fabric of Limerick.

Mr Devane is survived by his wife Julieann, daughters Jemma and Jessica, brother of the late Tony and Michael, sisters Márie, Áine, Joan and Paula and will be laid to rest after noon Requiem Mass this Thursday at St Brendan’s Cemetery, Milltown, Dingle, Co Kerry.