Music plays large part at funeral of retired judge

A LARGE congregation of family, friends, representatives of the legal profession, members of the judiciary and civic dignitaries gathered at St Patrick’s Church on the Lower Road in Cork yesterday for the funeral Mass of retired Circuit Court Judge Anthony G Murphy who died on Sunday, aged 80.

In his homily, the chief celebrant, Fr Tony O’Riordan, spoke of Judge Murphy’s steadfastness on the Bench as well as his conviviality among friends, in particular his sense of humour, reflected in his wish that music play a large part in the proceedings, but with the proviso that “it should not include Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer”.

Fr O’Riordan’s recollection of his friend’s sociability was echoed by Judge Murphy’s son, Simon, who spoke of his father’s wide interests which included horses, sailing and golf, music and theatre.

In his early years, he often acted on-stage and “once died every night for a month as Julius Caesar”.

His legal brain was active, even in his final days, the judge’s eldest son told the gathering.

“His great mind remained as sharp as ever to the end.”

Judge Murphy’s eclectic musical tastes were to the fore, ranging from Gounod’s Ave Maria and John Lennon’s Yesterday, both sung by soprano Cara O’Sullivan, whom he admired greatly, to Nat King Cole’s Smile Though Your Heart is Breaking, sung, to his own guitar accompaniment, by Judge Murphy’s son Adam.

‘Doyen of the Cork bar’

“HE was the doyen of the Cork Bar for decades,” said one of his colleagues. “On his elevation to the bench, his strength of character was shown in dealing firmly with the hardest criminal elements. He was fearless both as a barrister and as a judge.”

High praise for the former Circuit Court judge Anthony Murphy, who died, aged 80, on Sunday at Marymount hospice, Curaheen, one of Cork’s western suburbs.

For 31 years Mr Murphy carried out an extensive practice in Cork from Fr Mathew Quay. He was called to the Bar in November 1954.

Such was his dominance as a barrister in Cork that his appointment as Circuit Court judge in 1985 came as a relief to many of his contemporaries.

“He did so much defence work for insurance companies that when he became a judge the availability of that business became a bonanza for about 10 barristers,” one colleague said.

As a young barrister, Tony Murphy, as he was known, befriended Jack Lynch, who was in practice at the Bar in Cork at the same time. They became close friends and remained so until the former taoiseach’s death in 1999.

Blessed with a fine singing voice, Mr Murphy took part in amateur dramatics and from 1941 was involved in many productions by the Cork Operatic Society. He became chairman of the society after many years of performing.

The son of a prominent doctor, he was schooled at Christian Brothers College in Cork and later attended St Vincent’s College in Dublin before studying for the Bar at the King’s Inns.

Predeceased by his youngest son, Anthony, Mr Murphy is survived by his wife Dorothea, and his sons, Simon, Jerry and Adam.

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