Thursday 23 March 2017

George Maloney

Legal genius who loved to share his skills combined adventure with life, writes Dermot McMonagle

The legal profession, fly fishermen, walkers, clay pigeon shooters and many friends gathered in the Cathedral of Saints Patrick and Phelim in Cavan recently to say their goodbyes and to celebrate the life of solicitor George Vincent Maloney.

George was a man who applied the gold standard to everything he did as a lawyer and adviser to his vast client base, far beyond his native Cavan. The former chief justice, Tom Finlay, was in attendance.

Educated at St Patrick's College, Co Cavan, Rockwell College and UCD, George took over the legal practice developed by his father. His work rate was immeasurable. George was known as an exceptional legal talent who loved the practice of law.

He relished the challenge of how the law could be applied and legal opinions on issues were painstakingly researched and could be relied upon. There are many lawyers in Ireland who came to see him for guidance, as he was ever generous with his time and talents. He loved to share his knowledge of the law.

GV, as he was commonly known, was a country man at heart, where he loved the open spaces and could indulge in his many pastimes -- fishing, walking, shooting or climbing. His hobbies extended in later life to hang gliding and flying helicopters.

George V Maloney & Co may have been the first legal practice in Ireland to lead a case in Europe against the State and the now defunct Pigs and Bacon Commission, when they acted on behalf of McCarren & Co in challenging the pig slaughter levy. The case was won and GV's reputation grew further.

He was at ease in the local District and Circuit Courts where he would often engage in a little light banter with the judges and his colleagues either to lighten the human element or maybe to see the futility of a situation.

He was acting law agent to Cavan County Council for many decades. At his funeral, the comments from his former juniors, many of whom have gone on to build their own successful legal practices and some of whom have been elevated to the bench, were respectful and praiseworthy.

George lived to the age of 80 and it was said "he had lived at least three lifetimes" as he always lived every day as if it was his last. In his early days he played rugby with Cavan Rugby Club and he was a member of the FCA where he held the rank of lieutenant.

He liked nothing better than trout fishing on Lough Sheelin and he represented Ireland in international fly fishing events. His annual holiday was always spent skiing and he loved swimming, diving and snorkelling.

On reaching 70, a time when most men tend to relax into slippers, George did the direct opposite, as he donned his boots to walk and go mountain climbing. In 2001, Kilimanjaro was conquered; in 2002, the five highest peaks in the British Isles were conquered and in 2003, the Everest Tea Trek in Nepal. He later climbed the Slovenian Alps (2004); the Mont Blanc Range (2005); Everest Base Camp (2006); Machu Picchu (2007); St Wolfgang in Austria (2008) and Mount Errigal (2009).

George had intended to celebrate his 80th birthday with a five-week trip to Antarctica, but alas, it was not to be.

Tributes were paid to George prior to the sitting of Cavan District Court last Thursday by Judge MacBride, the gardai, the press and the various bar associations.

The words of Cavan state solicitor Rory Hayden were most apt when he said: "George Maloney was the finest lawyer I have ever met, a man with a legal brain that will never be known again."

He was laid to rest with his daughter Finola in Drumcor Cemetery, Co Cavan. He is survived by his wife Máire, his daughter Jacqueline, his son Patrick, and grandchildren Robert, Lorna and Ruth.

Sunday Independent

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