Saturday 29 April 2017

Dermot Humphreys

A friendly man from a historic family who loved the law, writes Charles Lysaght

Dermot Sigerson Humphreys, of Dromin House near Dunleer, who has died at home at the age of 67, belonged to one of the more remarkable dynasties of nationalist Ireland.

The family of his architect father, Emmet Humphreys, traced collateral descent from Dean Humphreys of Clonoulty, the turbulent priest of the Land War, and from the Easter Week leader, The O'Rahilly. On his mother's side, Dermot was the great-grandson of the polymath George Sigerson, a physician and lecturer in biology at UCD, who was also a noted historian and a poet.

Dermot was brought up on Ailesbury Road and educated at Belvedere. He studied law at UCD and King's Inns. Called to the Bar in 1966, he was, for a time, an examiner at King's Inns.

In the mid-1970s, he was appointed a legal adviser in the Department of the Environment and Local Government), where, apart from a short stint in the Statute Law Reform Office, he remained for the rest of his working life. He found there an outlet for his scholarly, rather historical, interest in the law. Much of the work was the preparation of the heads of legislation for the Office of the Parliamentary Draftsman. He retired in 2004.

A friendly person who enjoyed a joke, Dermot had an active social life. He hunted from an early age and pursued an interest in vintage cars. History and period architecture were lifelong enthusiasms.

He and his wife Carmel were active supporters of the Irish Georgian Society and played host to the members at Dromin. On a Georgian outing to Burgundy in France, Dermot re-presented to the current Duke of Magenta the sword originally presented by George Sigerson to Marshal McMahon, the first duke, on behalf of the Irish nation a century before.

Last year, Dermot took part in the centenary celebration of the Sigerson Cup, which is awarded annually for the inter-varsity competition in Gaelic football. He was, at the time of his death, working on a biography of Sigerson and on his father's diaries.

He is survived by his wife Carmel and children Grainne, Nadja, Emmet, and Diana.

Sunday Independent

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