Tuesday 6 December 2016

Adrian Hardiman: A friend untainted by eminence

Ronan Fanning

Published 13/03/2016 | 02:30

Eminent: Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman who died suddenly, aged 64, at his home in the early hours of Monday morning
Eminent: Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman who died suddenly, aged 64, at his home in the early hours of Monday morning

I first met Adrian Hardiman in 1969, shortly after I had begun lecturing in UCD's history department. I did not then realise that it was a case of the best wine coming first: never again in four decades of teaching did I encounter such a remarkable student.

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His intellectual ability was beyond doubt and went hand-in-hand with an open mind and an omnivorous appetite for knowledge. Already widely read for one so young, he was armed with an intelligence that was as original as it was muscular. The fearlessness, latterly regarded as characteristic of his Supreme Court judgments, was already apparent, and the fluency both of his essays and of his subsequent discussion in tutorials made him a joy to teach.

He soon made his mark in the wider university world, becoming auditor of the L&H, UCD's premier debating society, as well as president of the student representative council, an office then traditionally entitling the holder to a seat as a government nominee on the university's governing body. Convention decreed that the outgoing president of the SRC resign to create a vacancy for his successor. But Adrian Hardiman's outspoken opinions had already made him a divisive figure, and his predecessor denied him his place on the governing body by refusing to resign.

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