“Outshtanding!” This was the word which rang out – with a West Cork lilt - at the courthouse on Anglesea Street in Cork as tributes were paid to Malachy Boohig on his retirement after 36 years as state solicitor for West Cork.
And it was a favourite word of the immensely popular, retiring state solicitor. After listening to members of the judiciary, the office of Director of Public Prosecutions, legal colleagues, friends and family heap praise and affection on him, Mr Boohig was left to wonder and reply, “I feel like they are talking about somebody else.” Mr Boohig, who was appointed as state solicitor for West Cork in August 1986, said, “I have had great times, I have had some bad times but through it all I have the most fantastic support both from colleagues… and most importantly my family.”
Siblings and children of Mr Boohig were present for the occasion, including his daughter, Sarah Boohig, who spoke of her pride in seeing her dad work over the past eleven years when she worked with him. She said that her mother, the late Mrs Mary Boohig, would have been very proud of her husband on his retirement.
Reluctant to single out particular people for mention, Mr Boohig made exceptions for his three state solicitor colleagues in County Cork, Frank Nyhan, John Brosnan and Jerry Healy, and close friends, Jim Brooks and Diarmuid O’Shea.
Helena Kiely of the DPP’s office said, “It is not always easy being a solicitor in a close-knit community. You carry out a very public role that requires you to be very independent in how you approach the role… It requires great personal commitment, dedication, independence of thought and professionalism and I can say without reservation that Malachy has shown those traits in abundance throughout his career.”
State solicitor for East Cork, John Brosnan, said, “Over the years, he brought his sense of fairness and common sense to his dealings which included many of the most high-profile and complex cases to come before the courts.”
Father of the Cork and Munster Bar, Donal McCarthy, said Mr Boohig had a particular knowledge of all the complexities of fisheries cases. “Now all of those who are left handling fisheries cases are going to be at sea,” he said.
David Colbert of the Courts Service spoke of the important role played by Mr Boohig, all done in a manner that was “courteous, caring and kind in his dealings with people.” Martin O’Donovan, court registrar, described the kindness and patience shown by Mr Boohig in some very high profile and complex drugs cases.
Mr O’Donovan said that the word he would use to describe Mr Boohig’s career was the one Mr Boohig used himself on many occasions, “Outshtanding!” Superintendent Ger O’Mahony said, “Malachy was always available 24/7 to give advice and direction that was always accurate, balanced and based on common sense. He is always affable, personable and shows great humility. He never sought the limelight. He has the common touch which endeared him to all and which is evident every day in Clonakilty where he is highly respected.” President of the West Cork Bar Association Plunkett Taaffe described a great colleague becoming a great friend and joked that Mr Boohig was, “city born and bred, matured and refined in West Cork.”
Dermot Conway, solicitor, who represented many fishermen in cases prosecuted by Mr Boohig said the state solicitor had a great way of taking stress out of what were very often stressful situations and he praised his impartiality and fairness.
Judge Helen Boyle said that with the name Malachy he sounded like a high king of West Cork and she said that as such he would have been rightly praised as, “Malachy the Fair, Malachy the Just and Malachy the Wise.”