Judge Con Murphy, a native of Bandon, Co Cork, died yesterday morning at Bon Secours Hospital in Cork after he was admitted there last week.
The 51-year-old had worked as a solicitor for more than 20 years, building up a successful legal partnership with his friend, James Long, before being elevated to the Circuit Court bench in November 2004.
Malachy Boohig, state solicitor for West Cork, said Con Murphy’s appointment as a judge of the circuit court was greeted with universal approval by the legal profession.
“He was extraordinarily well read and possessed a very sharp brain,” Mr Boohig said. “Judge Murphy was known for his wit, his candour, for being gregarious and outspoken but, mostly, for his application of common sense.
“As a judge, he was incredibly humane and even-handed. His knowledge of the law was exceptional and his ability to grasp the facts of a case was second to none.”
Cllr Andrew Coleman, the longest-serving member of Bandon Town Council, also paid tribute to the judge.
Judge Murphy was elected to what was then Bandon Town Commissioners in 1985, topping the poll.
A solicitor at the time, he topped the poll in two further elections before deciding to retire from local politics in 2000.
He was not only a former chairman of the town council, but also served as director of elections for Fianna Fáil in the Cork South West constituency.
Mr Coleman (FG) said that even though Con Murphy was a member of Fianna Fáil, it didn’t impede their friendship.
“Con had a great political brain, he was very astute. While we disagreed sometimes [in the council chamber] we were friends and neighbours,” said Mr Coleman.
“He was a very generous guy. He would defend his political beliefs and wouldn’t hold grudges. He was a friend to everyone. I found him a very warm person with a great sense of humour and of course he was a great storyteller.”
Bandon GAA Club spokesman Colman O’Mahony said the judge was “passionate about sport, but in particular hurling”.
Con Murphy played at all levels up to minor for Bandon GAA, but in his early 20s he went into administration, taking over the post of club secretary.
“He was Mister GAA in Bandon,” Mr O’Mahony said. “He coached a number of under-age hurling teams and was one of the leading characters and supporters we had. Everybody looked up to him. His death is a huge shock and he will be sorely missed.”
Judge Murphy is survived by his wife, Miriam, his mother, Theresa, (nee Twomey), brothers Phil and Dan, and his sister Margaret Murphy-O’Mahony, who is a former mayor of Bandon.