Paul Anthony McDermott
Born: February 4th, 1972
Died: December 10th, 2019
I knew Paul Anthony for just over 28 years as an undergraduate, postgraduate and colleague here at UCD Sutherland.
In 1991 Paul Anthony McDermott commenced his legal studies in Roebuck Castle. It did not take long for the exuberant personality to emerge from the student cohort. His sharp intellect became quite evident in an exam seminar at the end of the academic year. As a newly appointed lecturer in the Law of Tort the student body had no past examination papers to gauge the nature of the exam facing them. Paul Anthony in attempting to assist the student body asked the lecturer a most convoluted triple negative rhetorical question in an attempt to squeeze out a topic or two of the material being examined. The ploy almost worked till realization dawned that any response to question as framed would divulge valuable information about the exam questions. It was obvious then where Paul Anthony was destined after his academic legal studies.
I recall him in 2nd BCL and an answer to a nullity question which defied his years in terms of his analysis and insightful comments on the development of the law which a seasoned academic would be proud of (exam scripts back then had the student name printed on the cover).
Perhaps the most telling memory of his early academic year was the exam board meeting in June of 1994. First Class honours were rare then and usually achieved by the preponderance rule (3 from 5 firsts and two 2:1s). Not so Paul Anthony, the clearest of Firsts with 5 from 5 and not mere 70%s. It still remains one of the most extraordinary exam performances in the Law School history.
During his undergraduate days he won a Bank of Ireland Medal each year and the Royal and Sun Alliance Gold Medal for the Tort essay.
Paul applied for an LLM in Cambridge and I had the task of wording a reference to give him the edge in the application. I recall using the punchline that “UCD’s loss would be Cambridge’s gain”. Paul achieved a first class honour’s degree and awarded the Sir William Wade award. Likewise at the King’s Inns he came first in his class and awarded the John Brooke Scholarship.
His PhD on Res Judicata was supervised by Emeritus Professor and former Dean Paul O’Connor who I recall telling me that McDermott would arrive on a fortnightly basis with “wheelbarrow load of material” for him to read. Paul Anthony completed his PhD in two years.Yet another extraordinary achievement.
Much has been spoken of these achievements elsewhere and it is difficult to add to these but suffice it say a highly respected member of both the Inner and Outer bar. His practice started with Law Society disciplinary work and soon State work followed. He was retained in the Judge Curtin affair in his early years at the bar.
Paul Anthony began lecturing Tort and we would have engaging discussions on this topic often as he was just an office down the corridor in Roebuck Castle. He was adored by the student body for his clarity of lecturing on difficult concepts and always where possible with humour and good spirit. He was a gifted communicator. He was also a prolific researcher and writer. I think he had two weighty tomes published on Contract Law and Prison Law within one year of his appointment to the then Faculty of Law in 1999 / 2000.
Never not a smile and always a warm friendly greeting from Paul Anthony. A most obliging and helpful individual for whom no favour to be done was too onerous. A gracious gentleman of immense integrity, intelligence, oratory and simple common goodness.
To his wife Annick, his sons Harry and Andrew, his mother Margaret and his brother and our colleague here at UCD Sutherland, James, I extend on UCD’s and UCD Sutherland School of Law’s behalf our deepest of sympathies on the passing of Paul Anthony.
May he rest in peace.
Paul Ward – Associate Professor Law