Tributes were paid to recently retired judge Mary Devins at last Wednesday’s sitting of Castlebar District Court. She was lauded for her high standards, professionalism and attention paid to the most vulnerable.
The high profile judge officially announced her retirement to her judicial colleagues on October 31, 20 years after being appointed as a District Court judge.
Dermot Morahan lead the tributes on behalf of the Mayo solicitors. “There is a saying in legal circles that you should always know your judge. If you knew Judge Devins, you came to court prepared or you don’t show up,” he said to laughter.
“The high standards she set stood us well … Judge Devins always gave the accused and defending solicitors a full and fair hearing.”
Supt Joe McKenna said it was an ‘honour and privilege’ to thank the judge on behalf of An Garda Síochana. He recalled his earliest memories of working with Judge Devins back in 1999. “It was a far different court at the time. Courts in Ballycroy had an open fire and tea and sandwiches,” he recalled.
“Judge Devins developed all our skills in court procedure and practice,” he said. “She always gave sensible judgement; lawful, logic and concise reasoning behind her sentencing.” He also said the reduction in young offenders before the courts was testament to her time in the role.
State solicitor Vincent Deane complimented Judge Devins’s ‘great sense of fairness, integrity … and humour’, while Diarmuid Connolly, speaking on behalf of the barristers, acknowledged that ‘every barrister always came prepared to this court’ and that the ‘body of case law has improved because of her being a judge in the District Court’.
Chief Court Clerk Peter Mooney paid a glowing tribute to his former colleague of 13 years.
“Judge Devins epitomised a District Court judge,” he said. “Everyone commented how they made sure they came to this court prepared, but I can tell you Judge Devins was working very hard in the background to make sure she was prepared.
“Behind closed doors, her genuine empathy and concern for children really showed what a good judge she was.”
All parties also welcomed the newly appointed Judge Fiona Lydon to her role.
“I feel very privileged to be appointed judge of District 3,” Judge Lydon said. “I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with all court stakeholders.
“It will be difficult to fill the shoes of our esteemed and most respected colleague. Judge Devins created a platform of excellence in so many ways … Her colleagues will miss her most sincerely.”
All members of the courts also passed on their condolences to solicitor Cathy McDarby of McDarby and Co Solicitors, on the untimely passing of her mother, Mary.