It was a fitting end to a brilliant career. As Mr Justice Peter Kelly walked into the Four Courts he was met by warm applause from a guard of honour comprised of about 40 judges.
In normal times, the retiring president of the High Court could have expected the Attorney General and other leading lights of the legal professions to pile into a courtroom to pay tribute on his final day.
These are not normal times, however, and thronged courtrooms are gone, for the time being at least, due to Covid-19 restrictions.
But for a man who distinguished himself as a fearless and formidable barrister and judge for almost half a century, it was apt that his send-off be different from those who went before him.
Widely considered in legal circles to still be at the peak of his powers, Mr Justice Kelly had to step down yesterday on reaching the age of 70.
His work at the Bar was wide and varied and included representing clients as diverse as the Stardust families and businessman Ben Dunne.
As a judge he was instrumental in the setting up of the fast-track Commercial Court, which became well-regarded internationally for its efficiency in dealing with big money disputes.
But it is perhaps as a champion of vulnerable people in society, including at-risk children and wards of court, that he will be remembered most.
While presiding over the minors list early in his time as a High Court judge, he grew exasperated at delays in providing facilities for troubled young children.
When plans for a particular project stalled and were changed without the court being notified, he described the situation as a scandal and took the somewhat unusual step of making an order which compelled the Justice Minister to act on the plans within a certain time-frame.
In another case, he threatened to hold the Ministers for Health, Justice and Education in contempt of court if they failed to provide a disturbed young girl, who had been sexually abused, with a place in a secure unit.
It was a threat he did not have to act upon, as the State complied with his orders.
Later in his career he would clash with the Government again, this time on the issue of independence after a referendum was passed in 2011 allowing for the reduction of judicial salaries.
He helped establish the Association of Judges of Ireland, which he chaired. The body was mandated to protect and enhance judicial independence, improve the administration of justice and promote a better public understanding of the role of judges.
Born in Dublin in 1950, Mr Justice Kelly was the son of a clerk in the Chief State Solicitor's Office and studied at O'Connell's Schools on North Richmond Street, UCD and Kings Inns.
Although drawn to the law at an early age, he did not immediately pursue a career as a lawyer. Instead, he worked as a civil servant in the High Court's Central Office and later with the Department of Justice.
By the age of 25 though, he had made up his mind to concentrate on being a barrister and quickly built up a successful practice, so much so that he became a senior counsel by the age of 36.
A decade later, in 1996, he was appointed a judge of the High Court, where he would serve until being elevated to the Court of Appeal for a year in 2014. He would return to the High Court as its president in December 2015, the third most senior position in the judiciary.
One of the warmest tributes paid yesterday came from Micheál P O'Higgins SC, the chairman of the Bar Council, who said Mr Justice Kelly's "independence and fearlessness" as a judge stood as an example to his colleagues.
Although now retired, Mr Justice Kelly may yet leave a further mark. He had been heading up a wide-ranging review of the administration of civil justice in Ireland, which is expected to report soon.
Many hope it will lead to a cheaper and more efficient system of justice, which would be a fitting legacy indeed.