Ireland's most experienced criminal court judge, Mr Justice Paul Carney (72), has died just six months after warning there was "nothing voluntary" about his retirement.
A veteran of more than 150 rape and murder cases, he transformed the Irish criminal justice system in his 24 years on the bench.
He pushed for the Central Criminal Court to hear murder and rape cases outside Dublin.
Mr Justice Carney also supported the right of victims to address the court via victim impact statements.
He also raised repeated concerns over the manner in which criminal sentences were amended or overturned by a Court of Appeal.
Politicians, judges, lawyers and victim's rights groups united last night to pay tribute to the father of four.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said Ireland had lost a major legal talent.
"Mr Justice Carney was a judge of exceptional ability who made a huge contribution to the High Court bench, in particular in presiding over many high-profile criminal law trials," she said.
High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said the death of Judge Carney, coming so soon after his retirement, was a sad loss for his family and for the Irish judiciary.
"He was the pre-eminent criminal law judge in our time, presiding in a long career over more than 100 murder and rape trials," the judge said.
"He did so with exemplary fairness throughout, a fact acknowledged not only by practitioners but in many instances also by those standing trial before him."
The Director-General of the Law Society, Ken Murphy, said history will record his remarkable contribution.
"He was one of Ireland's greatest ever criminal judges. He did society's dirty work. Every working day he heard evidence of depravity and of man's inhumanity to man but he never allowed himself become cynical about humanity or about our system of criminal justice," he added.
Bar Council Chairman David Barniville SC said Ireland had lost an exemplary public servant.