GLOWING tributes were paid to Judge Tom O’Donnell in Thurles District Court last Friday, as he presided over the Court for the final time. Judge O’Donnell ends 14 years of distinguished service in the Cathedral town, having been appointed to the Circuit Court in April.
Speaking on behalf of the legal profession, Solicitor Frank Gleeson told a packed Courtroom that Judge O’Donnell will be greatly missed, and congratulated him on his promotion to the Circuit Court bench. “You were always helpful, and listened to each of your colleagues. You were not only courteous to the bench but also to the public in general.”
Speaking for Thurles Garda Station, Supt Pádraig De Burca said Judge O’Donnell had shown leadership in his role, respect for the defendants who had come before him, and wished him well on his appointment. Supt Pat Lordan, representing Chief Superintendent Catherine Kehoe, also said Judge O’Donnell had always been fair in his dealings with those who had appeared before him in Court. “I wish you all the best on behalf of Tipperary gardaí.”
Court Clerk Martin Hanton passed on his best wishes on behalf of the Court Staff of District 14. “It’s been a pleasure to work with you for 14 years,” he said.
Judge Tom O’Donnell told the Court that he had been on an “emotional rollercoaster” over the last few days. It was 35 years ago this month that he had collected his parchment and embarked on his legal career.
Judge O’Donnell complimented the previous sitting Thurles District Court Judge Michael Reilly. “Thurles is a busy place. There’s a lot of work here, and it could do with some extra staff,” he said. “I have enjoyed my time here, so it’s a bitter sweet parting. It’s part of my DNA.”
Judge O’Donnell paid tribute to the “professionalism and humanity” of the local gardaí, and the Court Staff in Nenagh for their “great loyalty.” Singling out Sergeant Tony Quinn of Thurles Garda Station, Judge O’Donnell said Sgt Quinn is the “jewel of the crown” of the local prosecution service and sometimes knows more about the cases than he does himself. “The hallmark of a Judge should be Independence, Integrity, Impartiality, Humanity, Wisdom, Knowledge of the Law, and Patience,” concluded Judge O’Donnell, who said he aspired to these values, and thanked everybody for their kindness to him over the years.