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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 11 November, 2019
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'A very loving person': Tributes paid to Westmeath judge who died at age 46 after illness

Judge O’Neill was the youngest judge of the judiciary at the time when appointed a district court judge by Government at the age of 42.

Enns Courthouse, where tributes were paid to Gráinne O'Neill today.
Enns Courthouse, where tributes were paid to Gráinne O'Neill today.
Image: Google Maps

WARM TRIBUTES WERE paid today to Judge Gráinne O’Neill who has died at the age of 46 after an illness.

Judge O’Neill was the youngest judge of the judiciary at the time when appointed a district court judge by Government at the age of 42 in 2014.

The NUIG graduate had strong Clare connections with her late mother, Dr Ursula O’Neill and her late grandfather and long serving Clare Fianna Fáil TD, Dr Bill Loughnane natives of east Clare.

Leading the tributes to Judge O’Neill before Ennis District Court today, Judge Patrick Durcan described Judge O’Neill as “a very dear and loved friend who was a very loving, kind hearted, fun person”.

Judge Durcan said that Judge O’Neill “smothered those she dealt with that innate compassion she was possessed with”.

Judge Durcan said that Judge O’Neill’s “heart was always in Co Clare” and said that it was fitting that her final resting place will be a cemetery at her beloved Fanore on north Clare’s coast.

Judge Durcan said that Judge O’Neill was equipped with a great sense of humour and would have seen the humour in the texts and phone calls going around between her colleagues on the bench on Thursday morning saying that she had passed on – when she was still alive.

“Mistake”

Durcan said:

“It was all a mistake. Gráinne’s death hadn’t happened at this time – it was due to a misunderstanding of text.

I really think that Gráinne was thinking of Mark Twain and she was thinking that news of her death had been much exaggerated when it hadn’t happened.

He said:

I know she would have enjoyed that yesterday and she was full of humour in her own way and it would helped her in the final stages of her journey she was taking at that time.

Judge O’Neill peacefully passed away later on Thursday surrounded by family at her home in Athlone.

Judge Fiona Lydon also paid tribute in court to Judge O’Neill and said that O’Neill “was like a guardian angel to me when I first moved onto the judiciary and the support I received from her was second to none”.

Judge Lydon said that she can only admire “the stoicism and the heroic and selfless attitude Gráinne displayed when faced with her illness”.

Solicitor John Casey told the court that he was shocked to hear of Judge O’Neill’s passing at such a young age.

Judge O’Neill is survived by her father retired Colonel Terry O’Neill, her brother Olaf, sister Fiona and predeceased by mother, Dr Ursula O’Neill.

Funeral mass will take place at St Mary’s Church, Athlone at 12 noon tomorrow and burial at Fanore cemetery at 1.30pm on Sunday.

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Gordon Deegan

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