Warm tributes have been paid to retired circuit court Judge John Clifford whose death took place on Thursday night at the age of 84.

Judge Clifford, a native of Caherciveen, Co Kerry, was a district court judge from 1977 to 1988 until appointed to the circuit court. He retired in 2002.

His first four years as a district court judge were spent in Donegal before subsequently being appointed to Cork, serving in parts of Cork county and afterwards Cork City.

Renowned for his great sense of humour, he was also known for his compassion and fairness, Killarney District Court heard yesterday where tributes were led by Judge Olann Kelleher.

“Judge John Clifford was an outstanding lawyer,” Judge Kelleher said.

“He loved solicitors to take him on and always said ‘Give me the law.’ He encouraged advocacy and his attitude instilled in young solicitors the confidence to research and practice the law,” said Judge Kelleher.

Extending sympathy to his wife Aideen and family, Judge Kelleher said: “Johnny Clifford was a great man and we all respected him.”

On behalf of solicitors, Killarney solicitor Pádraig O’Connell spoke of Judge Clifford’s renowned fairness. “He was always very just. He had a great knowledge of the law. He was rightly proud of his family, and they also of him.”

Inspector Tony Sugrue, of Killarney gardaí, recalled being in Judge Clifford’s court and the late judge’s fondness for saying “the law is the law”.

“He was very much loved and deeply respected,” said Insp Sugrue.

Prominent Cork solicitor Frank Buttimer echoed those comments while also recalling Judge Clifford’s love of golf.

“I knew Johnny for donkey’s years,” he said. “In the early 80s he had sole responsibility for the entire district court area of Cork and had an amazing work ethic. At the same time, he had a great sense of humour and was a very personable fellow.

“He also loved golf and was a stalwart of the Southern Law Association Golf Society. He was also a long standing and active member of Cork Golf Club.”

Don Murphy, president of the Southern Law Association, also paid a heartfelt tribute, describing Judge Clifford as a compassionate man who will be sadly missed.

Judge Clifford, who passed away at Oaklodge Nursing Home near Midleton, Co Cork, is survived by his wife, Aideen, children Michael, Eoin, Neil, and Una and 12 grandchildren.


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