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Tributes paid to the late Catherine Walsh-Sweeney

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‘FORMIDABLE OPPONENT’  The late Catherine Walsh-Sweeney

Ger Flanagan

GLOWING tributes were paid to the ‘most courageous’ and ‘wonderful’ Catherine Walsh-Sweeney at last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court.
Ms Walsh-Sweeney had been a leading barrister on the western circuit for many years before she passed away on May 11 after a long illness. The Castlebar native is deeply regretted by her husband, Aidan; daughter, Kate; parents, Kevin and Rita; sister, Máire; and brothers, Jude, Kevin J and John Peter.
Judge Rory McCabe led the tributes during last Tuesday afternoon, extending his deepest sympathies to the family of Ms Walsh-Sweeney, adding that he did not have the words to express how sorry he was.
He said it was a ‘tragedy’ for the community, adding that no parents expect to bury one of their children. He said Ms Walsh-Sweeney represented her clients with ‘diligence’ and ‘conviction’.
Pat Reynolds, SC, representing the DPP and the Garda Síochána, echoed the words of Judge McCabe, adding that the one word that was always on his mind when he thought of Ms Walsh-Sweeney was ‘courage’, and that she was one of the ‘most courageous advocates I ever met’.
Evan O’Dwyer, on behalf of the Mayo solicitors, said Ms Walsh-Sweeney was a ‘disciple to the legal profession’ and was ‘super’ at her role in criminal defence. He said she was a ‘proud colleague’ and will be dearly missed.
Diarmuid Connolly, SC, paid an emotional tribute to his ‘intellectually robust’ colleague, saying he had been ‘deeply saddened’ to hear of her loss.
He added that he had been ‘lucky and privileged’ to work with her and that she was ‘a dogged advocate for her clients and meticulous in preparation’.
“She was a formidable opponent,” he said. “You always knew you had a battle against her.
“She had an ability to see things in 4D … she had a devastating ability to sum up the ludicrous in six words or less. She loved the profession and excelled at it.”
Mr Connolly added that Ms Walsh-Sweeney was particularly loved and respected by her many female colleagues, to whom she had lent help and support throughout the years, and he extended a special word to Ms Walsh-Sweeney’s husband, Aidan, who he said was a ‘man amongst men’ in how he had cared for his wife and their child throughout her illness.
Judge McCabe delayed the start of court proceedings until 12 noon the following day as a mark of respect for Ms Walsh Sweeney, and added that when it is safe to do so, the practitioners will ‘truly celebrate her life’.