Wednesday 21 March 2018

Paraic's adieu to the courts

Paul Deering

The curtain came down on a career in the public service of 47 years for popular Courts Service employee, Paraic O'Grady at the recent sitting of the Circuit Court in Sligo which heard glowing tributes.

Mr O'Grady joined the staff of the Circuit Court in June 1980 as Chief Clerk going on to become Acting County Registrar from 2009 to 2013 and then Deputy Manager of the newly amalgamated Courts Service Office and finally as Manager for the past nine months.

He was also Returning Officer for Sligo/Leitrim from 2009 having first been involved in election counts since 1981 when the venue was the Gillooly Hall.

Judge Keenan Johnson said the retirement of State Solicitor Hugh Sheridan and long serving registrar, Mr O'Grady certainly marked the changing of the guard at the Circuit Court in Sligo.

The Judge said it was fair to say that Mr O'Grady, a native of Galway, became an institution amongst legal practitioners in Sligo following his appointment as registrar in the Circuit Court office in 1980, leaving a job with An Post to do so.

"During his time in Sligo, Paraic established a reputation for efficiency, courtesy and helpfulness in the discharge of his multiple duties as court registrar. If you had any difficulty in drafting a Circuit Court order, Padraic was always at the end of the phone and willing to give of his expertise freely and without expecting anything in return.

"He epitomised the fine tradition of public service that court registrars have rendered to judges, lawyers and the public throughout the country," said the Judge.

He said Mr O'Grady was a shining example of what every court registrar should be. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of court procedures and an ability to organise court lists and ensure attendance of relevant personnel with military precision. He was always courteous and good humoured.

His other duties involved assisting at elections and referenda and in carrying out this task he was also completely transparent, fair and impartial.

The Judge spoke of Mr O'Grady's passion for GAA and hunting to which he would now have more time to devote to.

Judge Johnson wished Mr O'Grady well in his retirement and also extended best wishes to his wife, Dolores and his three children and one grandchild.

"Your experience, knowledge, dedication and presence will be sorely missed," said Judge Johnson.

On behalf of the Sligo Solicitors' Association, Mr Michael Quigley said Mr O'Grady had always been extraordinarily generous with his time, help and assistance.

Mr Sheridan said Mr O'Grady was a very able administrator who never panicked and who was a pleasure to work with.

Ms Dara Foynes BL, on behalf of the Midland Bar, said Mr O'Grady was remarkably nice and helpful while Superintendent Mary Murray also spoke of the great assistance he had afforded her and An Garda Siochana and she wished him well in his retirement.

Brendan McDonald, Regional Manager, Western Region of the Courts Service, paid tribute to Mr O'Grady's 47 year career spent serving the people of Sligo.

Paul Deering, Assistant Editor of The Sligo Champion spoke of Mr O'Grady's long relationship with the newspaper.

"I, and my colleagues have been indebted to you for all your assistance and indeed advice which was deeply appreciated.

"Mr O'Grady was always obliging and the level of co-operation from you and your staff has always been second to none and I totally agree with the sentiments expressed earlier by Mr Foynes that you worked in the best Courts Service office in the country. Your assistance too at election counts was also deeply appreciated by my colleagues and I," he said.

Mr O'Grady's Colleague, Ms Loretta Kearins described him as a pillar of the Courts Service who had been an integral part of the running of the Sligo office. He had always embraced change and this was particularly noted when the District and Circuit Court offices amalgamated.

Ms Kearins thanked Mr O'Grady for 'handing on the senior baton' to her and she wished him a very happy, healthy and wonderful retirement.

Mr O'Grady, in reply said it was a pleasure and privilege to be in court on his last day with Judge Johnson presiding.

"You are the type of judge who give judges a good name," he said. Mr O'Grady lauded the fact that solicitors can now be appointed to the bench like Judge Johnson had been and such appointments had been a wonderful success.

Mr O'Grady thanked Ms Foynes for her kind words and said the legal fraternity had been wonderful friends.

They had always respected the Courts Service and its staff and he didn't think he had fallen out with anyone and he was very proud to be able to say that.

He also went on to thank the Gardaí and he wished Superintendent Murray the very best in her own retirement.

He said the job of a Garda was a very tough one and members weren't always given the credit for the job they did.

"They are always to be found at the frontline and I couldn't say a word against them," he said.

He also thanked the prison service and probation service with whom he had also interacted through his career.

Mr O'Grady went on to mention former colleagues including retired District Court Clerk, Bill Cashell and Gerardine McKinney who were both present in court. Former county registrars including his immediate predecssor, Kieran McDermott were also thanked.

"I want to give a special mention to Kieran who took over in 1988 and who was my boss for 21 years. He was outstandingly and exceptionally kind and generous to me and I would like to thank him for his kind support," he said.

He praised the current staff of the Sligo Courts Service office saying they were not only good colleagues but also great friends, going above and beyond the call of duty.

Mr O'Grady said the staff were the greatest asset in any work place but promised support was not always visible.

"The courts staff adapted to and took on significant changes but I don't think we ever got the credit for that," he said.

He stressed that work was never boring.

"I always enjoyed going to work. There was something new happening every day. It was like a live show and you could never think that you knew it all."

Mr O'Grady thanked Mr McDonald for his support over the years and also singled out for mention colleagues Anne Finn and Orla along with Donal McDermott whom he said was "the life and soul of the party and who was always in good humour."

Anne Scanlon and Niall Hopper were also thanked for their roles at the Courthouse and the latter's predecessor, Frankie Brannigan. Mr O'Grady concluded by paying tribute to his own family and thanking everyone for their well wishes.

Sligo Champion