by Majella Loftus
Glowing tributes were paid last week at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court to a young member of the bar who passed away following a long illness.
Catherine Walsh-Sweeney, of Leichin Village, Turlough, and formerly of Harmony Heights, Castlebar and Keenagh, passed away peacefully on May 11 surrounded by her family. She is survived by her husband, daughter, parents, siblings and extended family, as well as her colleagues in the legal profession and many friends.
Judge Rory MacCabe extended his sympathy to Catherine’s family, noting that parents don’t expect to bury their own children.
“The judiciary have lost a colleague and a friend who represented her clients with diligence and conviction. I don’t have words to express how tragic this is.”
State barrister Pat Reynolds joined in the tributes.
“Catherine was a fine advocate. When we are training as barristers you are told you have to be fearless and courageous in court. Courage is the word that comes to mind when I think of Catherine, because that is how she handled adversity in her life. I can stand here and say I shared a courtroom with one of the most courageous advocates I have ever met.”
Solicitor Evan O’Dwyer added: “The overriding attribute Catherine displayed was putting her client first. She was a disciple to her profession, a super and learned lawyer. She gave every ounce of her effort to her client, which was her greatest strength.”
Diarmuid Connolly said Ms Walsh faced her final illness with tremendous courage. She was a hugely talented legal advocate with a degree and masters degree in commercial law. He noted she was the type of barrister who made other barristers feel sorry for their clients when she was cross-examining them. She was, Mr Connolly added, a thoroughly decent colleague.
Catherine is deeply regretted by her loving family, husband Aidan, daughter Kate, parents Kevin and Rita, sister Máire (San Francisco), brothers Jude, Kevin J., John Peter (San Francisco), parents-in-law Patsy and Kay, sisters-in-law Dirika, Helen and Danielle, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, relative, neighbours and many friends.
May her gentle soul rest in peace.