STRIKING tributes were paid yesterday in Kerry to former High Court judge, Mr Justice Dermot Kinlen, who died at his holiday home in Sneem. He was in his late 70s.
The late Mr Kinlen, who practised as a barrister for many years in the south-western circuit, had strong family connections with the Kingdom as his grandfather, Tom O’Donnell, was a judge and Nationalist MP for West Kerry between 1900 and 1918.
Legal colleagues at the Circuit Court, in Killarney, were saddened yesterday on hearing of his passing.
“He was a gentleman. As a barrister and a person, he was always very pleasant and friendly, and always courteous and helpful and polite to younger barristers,” said a spokes-man for the legal profession in Kerry.
“His door in Sneem was always open. He led tours for lawyers abroad and always got audiences for this group including from the Cuban president Fidel Castro with whom he discussed the subject of human rights.’
Mr Kinlen brought many international groups to Sneem and was instrumental in having monuments erected in the Ring of Kerry village to mark links with China, Israel and other nations.
When working in Kerry, he always stayed at the Great Southern Hotel, in Killarney, and had a great loyalty to the State-owned hotel which is now privately owned. He also represented many Kerry people in civil cases and in criminal trials.
Having distinguished himself as a student at University College Dublin, he was called to the Bar in 1952 and took silk in 1971. He was also called to the Bar in England and New South Wales and was a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
He soon established a reputation as a leading advocate after beginning his career on the south western circuit as a junior counsel in the 1950s.
Mr Kinlen was also a friend of former president Cearbhaill Ó Dalaigh, who retired to Sneem in the late 1970s, following his controversial resignation from the presidency.
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