Tributes for 'big-hearted' barrister
Top lawyer recalled as generous, funny and best father ever
LEADING barrister Colm Allen SC was remembered yesterday as a "big person with a big heart" -- a colourful and ebullient personality who was never happier than when he was on his feet in a courtroom, boardroom or party.
His eldest son David revealed to mourners at his funeral yesterday that his father had taken the decision to go into the legal profession at the tender age of six, having read a series of books about murder trials.
Mr Allen, who died suddenly last Friday at the age of 60, was one of the country's top members of the legal profession. He represented former government press secretary Frank Dunlop during his early appearances before the planning tribunal, originally the Flood and subsequently the Mahon tribunal.
He also acted at the tribunal for the Bailey brothers, developers Michael and Thomas, and former radio boss Oliver Barry.
Chief mourners at Mr Allen's funeral at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, Dublin, yesterday were his wife, Amanda -- who lost her mother three weeks previously -- their two sons David and Ben and Mr Allen's mother Mary, along with his four brothers, Liam, Sean, Diarmuid and Padraig.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by his Aide de Camp, Michael Treacy. Former Attorney General Harry Whelehan, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan and her husband, former Justice Hugh Geoghegan, attended.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan, former Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin, Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery and Fine Gael general secretary Tom Curran were also present, along with FG deputy Eoghan Murphy, Michael and Thomas Bailey, and celebrity chef Derry Clarke and his wife Sallyanne of L'Ecrivain restaurant.
David Allen spoke of his father as the best man he ever knew. Other fathers brought their sons to a Manchester United match -- theirs brought them to dinner with Alex Ferguson. His father was "completely unique" and his sense of humour set him apart, he said.
Chief celebrant was family friend Fr Dermod McCarthy, together with parish priest Fr Martin Clarke, Fr Tony Little of St Michael's College and Fr Aidan Crowley of Ballycotton, Co Cork. Fr McCarthy recalled the trauma that had surrounded the birth of the Allens' son Ben in 1990 when "heaven was stormed" for the survival of mother and baby. Colm was a rock of courage through it all.
Fr McCarthy recalled his friend's "wicked sense of humour" and "hilarious reference" during the Planning Tribunal to "nether garments of members of the world's oldest profession". Colm "swelled with pride" upon learning his remark was included in the "quotes of the week" in the Sydney Morning Herald, he said.
The less public side of Colm Allen, meanwhile, saw him distribute a "hefty gift" to the homeless at Christmas.
Offertory gifts brought to the altar by four of Ben's friends included a photograph of a "very relaxed" Colm along with a 1951 edition of a PG Wodehouse collection of short stories.
The congregation was visibly moved and gave a standing ovation after Ben's voice soared to the lyrics of the song, 'A Satisfied Mind', shortly before the coffin left the church for burial at Shanganagh cemetery.