Tuesday 28 February 2017

Quiet patriotism of quintessential right-hand man

John-Paul McCarthy recalls the epic career and extraordinary gifts of the late cabinet secretary Dermot Nally

When the melancholy news broke over Christmas that our distinguished former cabinet secretary Dermot Nally had died suddenly in Dublin, my mind ran immediately back to the very first time I met him in 2002.

Some digging reproduced the notes of a riveting afternoon I spent with him in his conservatory at the back of his house on Orwell Road in Dublin. Having just recovered from major heart surgery, Nally kindly agreed to help me with my UCC research.

The last thing one needs, of course, after a bout with the knife is a bout with a fidgeting tyro clad in his father's jacket. But Nally proved to be a mesmerising host, and his historical and constitutional analysis that day left a deep impression. In retrospect, it is clear that all of Nally's extraordinary gifts were on display that afternoon.

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