Warm tributes were paid to the late solicitor Johnny Ward of Donegal Town at this week’s sittings of Donegal Circuit and District Courts by his former colleagues.
Mr. Ward passed away peacefully at his home at Drumcliff, Donegal Town on Friday last surrounded by his family.
On the opening day of this week’s sitting of Donegal Circuit Court on Tuesday Damien Crawford BL led the tributes to the late Mr.Ward who was regarded as one of the most respected and non-judgemental solicitors in the North West and also conveyed his sympathies to all his family.
Mr. Crawford described Mr. Ward as one of the “most eminent solicitors in South Donegal in the past 60 years and a great friend to the bar and his fellow solicitors.
“He had a dry sense of humour, a great sense of fun and was a very gifted man who continued to practice until his 80s.”
Veteran solicitor, Paudge Dorrian said it was a pleasure to call Mr. Ward both “a great colleague and a personal friend who had always been fair in every sense of the word.”
The late Mr. Ward’s daughter, Kathryn, also spoke in Court and thanked all those present for their kind words, adding that her late father had ”loved the law and his colleagues very much”.
Judge Donagh McDonagh added, “I am at a disadvantage that I did not know the late Mr. Ward. The last time I was in this court was for the Morris Tribunal.
“It seems from the tributes this morning that I have been disadvantaged by not knowing him.
“The tribute paid by Mr. Crawford today was as fine a eulogy as I have heard and a full transcript should be made available to those interested.”
On Monday morning, words of sympathy were also expressed on behalf of solicitors, Gardaí, the Court Service and judiciary at Donegal District Court.
Solicitor Donal Gallagher from Donegal Town said it was his great regret to inform the court of the death of Mr. Ward, who he said had practised with considerable skill for a long number of years.
Further tributes were also heard from Inspector Denis Joyce on behalf of An Garda Síochána who said that the late Mr. Ward had displayed the highest professional values as a solicitor and was deeply honest.
Court Clerk Connell Melly recalled seeing Mr. Ward for the first time 25 years ago on his first day at work, describing him as a very significant figure and a pleasure to work with.
Judge Kevin Kilrane said “John Ward was a well known defence solicitor in Dublin and on the Circuit Court. He always dealt very fairly with plaintiffs and always made a fair and reasonable offer.
“He was never truculent, never difficult and never awkward. He always did what he could to settle.
“I always found him to be a gentleman and he was quite an icon in the legal profession not just in Donegal but indeed, in Dublin.
“He has been missed in the past and he will be missed in the future.”
Mr. Ward is survived by his wife, Marion, sons John and Peter, daughters Kathryn and Ann, sister Dr. Ann Ward brother-in-law Junior Sharkey, sons-in-law Dr. John Garvey and Dr. Niall Joyce and daughter-in-law Hilary Fennell.