Monday 26 August 2019

Judge TF Roe

Michael A Regan

JUDGE TF (FRANK) ROE, former President of the Circuit Court, was one of the best-known judges to preside in the Irish courts. He was a most unusual, unique and generous man.

Under the care of the staff of Moorehall Lodge Nursing Home, Ardee, for the past five years, Judge Roe was aged 83 and unmarried. Born at Kiltallaght House, Dunleer, he retained for his lifetime the distinctive Louth accent.

He was the son of a Circuit Court Judge and followed a well-trodden route to the bar and onto the bench via Castleknock College, UCD and the King's Inns. It was while in UCD he performed a rare achievement by being both auditor of the Literary and Historical Debating Society and the President of the then Student's Council.

In 1977, he was offered a High Court Judgeship, but did not accept for the reason that he clearly preferred to work in a rural environment. A very wise judge, he never let law or precedent unduly interfere with common sense.

He came to national prominence when he threw out the case against Richard Flynn, who had been charged in connection with the controversial death of Fr Niall Molloy. This brought criticism on Judge Roe when he decided that the possibility of Fr Molloy having a heart attack and striking his head while falling over, could not be be ruled out.

Frank was highly regarded by people who appeared in his courts, where his closest friend and assistant was Paddy Nugent.

He was a fine horseman, who bred, trained, owned and rode to victory in the Ulster National a horse quaintly named Me Oul Segocia. Another horse he owned, Carlingford Castle, was second in the English Derby, which he sold for stg£750,000. The purchase price was not left to rot in the bank.

If he had a fault, it was not meanness - wealth or station meant little to him. He was very generous to jockeys, horsemen and others who had fallen on hard times.

He gravitated to sports people in all fields and among his closest friends in the racing game were trainers Frank Flood and Liam Brown, who trained many a horse for him, jockeys Christy Roche and Johnny Murtagh, while he could be often seen travelling to hurling games with the former Tipperary hurling star, Babs Keating. He rarely, if ever, missed a Munster Hurling Final.

Sean Boylan, the Meath football manager, had many outings with Frank to Gaelic games. Although Frank never was a player of any notable standing, Sean would tell you that he had a keen eye both on and off the bench.

A little-known fact of Frank's sporting interests was his abiding interest and support for cricket.

He was also a member of the Turf Club and an acting steward at racecourses throughout the country.

One of his great passions was ballroom dancing and many bands locally played a few extra waltzes when he was on the floor.

He is survived by his sisters, Kitty, Mary, Elizabeth and Patricia, relatives and a large circle of friends, to whom sympathy is extended.

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section