Mr Justice Hardiman, who was 65, was married to retired circuit court judge Yvonne Murphy, and was a father of three and grandfather of three. He was at home in Portobello in Dublin when he died and his family described his passing as peaceful.
President Michael D Higgins led the tributes, saying he had learnt of his death with great sadness and that his passing was “an enormous loss” to the legal world and to Irish life.
President Higgins described Mr Justice Hardiman as “one of the great legal minds of his generation” who had made “an immense contribution to the development of Irish law”.
“A strong voice on the court, he has been rightly recognised as a passionate defender of civil liberties and of individual freedoms. He was committed to the public world and the world of ideas and always gave generously of his time to debate and discuss matters of public importance,” he said.
The Supreme Court, to which Mr Justice Hardiman was appointed in 2000, was convened specially yesterday afternoon to mark his passing. Chief Justice Susan Denham said prior to the sitting that she had received the news of her colleague’s death with great sadness and shock. She described Mr Justice Hardiman as “a man who had made great and courageous efforts on behalf of those who sought justice”.
“He neither favoured nor feared any interest and went about his work with great integrity, grit and dedication,” she said.
David Barniville, SC, chairman of the Bar Council, described Mr Justice Hardiman as a “colossus” who would be sorely missed both by his contemporaries and younger members of the profession.
“He was unfailingly generous with his time and knowledge and took enormous pride in mentoring students and new barristers,” he said.
The Law Society also expressed its sorrow, director general Ken Murphy saying: “ The Irish people have lost a fierce protector of their rights against any over-reaching by the power of the State.
“As one of the most brilliant barristers of his generation, he was a powerful, punchy and highly persuasive advocate. Fearless, fluent and articulate, he could think on his feet to handle with ease whatever was thrown at him,” he said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny expressed his condolences to Mr Justice Hardiman’s family on behalf of the Government. “Adrian had a long and illustrious legal career and was one of the great minds of our time,” he said. “Most importantly, Adrian was also a much-loved husband and father.”
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald described him as a “fearless defender of the Constitution and a man of extraordinary intellectual ability”. Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin said he had always known him as “extremely kind, generous and good-natured”.
“Adrian was a hugely respected judge, known for his great intellect and wit, and was one of the outstanding lawyers of his generation” Mr Martin said.
Tánaiste Joan Burton sent condolences on behalf of the Labour Party, describing him as a liberal voice on many issues.
His funeral will take place on Thursday morning at the Church of the Holy Name, Ranelagh in Dublin.