Patricia Cronin with Keenan Johnson (Circuit Court judge) and Seamus Hughes (District Court judge) at a community event in 2019.

Mullingar solicitor set to become District Court judge

A Mullingar-based solicitor bid farewell to colleagues and friends at Mullingar District Court last Thursday, the day after it was announced that she is poised to become a member of the judiciary.

Ms Patricia Cronin, a partner at John J Quinn and Company Solicitors, Longford and Mullingar, has been nominated by the government for appointment as an Ordinary Judge to the District Court by the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins.

The vacancy on the District Court bench arose following the retirement of Judge Flannan Brennan last month, and in accordance with constitutional practice, the government advised President Higgins of Ms Cronin’s nomination last Wednesday.

The appointment is the first such honour to be bestowed on a Mullingar-based solicitor since John M O’Donnell of JJ Macken and Co was made a District Court judge in May 1997 – the first such appointment for a Mullingar solicitor.

“I’m shocked, overwhelmed, but delighted,” an emotional Ms Cronin briefly told Mullingar District Court, as her time on the solicitors’ benches in Mullingar came to an end.

Judge Seamus Hughes led the tributes to Ms Cronin, saying that he was “amazed and delighted” at the news of her pending appointment.

He said that he was amazed, first of all, that she had the interest in taking on the role of a judge, but “delighted” that she has been given the chance to apply her “extensive experience” in criminal and civil law.

“Despite the numerous appointments that have been made in recent years,” the judge added, “I think that this is the best appointment the government has made.

“You will make a great contribution to the panel of judges, and I wish you well.

“We have had our ups and downs over the years, but I hope you have learned something from me, as I have certainly learned from you.”

Judge Hughes described Ms Cronin as a person “who carried out a substantial portion of the work” on the solicitors’ benches in Mullingar, meaning an imminent increase in workload for her colleagues. “Your loss is great,” he continued.

“But it’s a great day for the town of Mullingar, and it’s great to see someone recognised for their ability.”

As Ms Cronin will, subject to her confirmation, be a movable judge of the District Court, Judge Hughes said he hoped to hear of her presiding over courts as far afield as “Waterford, Cahirciveen and Skibbereen”, as well as his own county of Mayo.

Also paying tribute to Ms Cronin ahead of her imminent appointment was Sgt Kevin O’Brien, on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Sgt O’Brien said that as a solicitor, Ms Cronin was “always very obliging” and made herself available at any time of night or day.

“We’ve crossed swords a couple of times, but Trish has always been very fair and we always got on well afterwards,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ms Margaret O’Rafferty, manager of the court office in Mullingar, described Ms Cronin as a “true professional”, noting that her appointment as a judge was “a great day for the town and for her family”.

“She will be a great asset to the bench,” Ms O’Rafferty added, referring to Ms Cronin’s “extensive knowledge” of the courts system and various branches of the law, which will be of great value in discharging her duties as a judge.

The registrar for Westmeath and Meath, Ms Brídín Concannon, spoke of Ms Cronin’s competence as a solicitor, and said that she looked forward to seeing her in her new role.

The state solicitor for Westmeath, Peter Jones, hailed Ms Cronin’s appointment as a judge.

“I have known Trish since she was a trainee,” he remarked, adding that she is “a decent, upright person” and “an extremely good lawyer” who “always looked after her clients well”.

On behalf of Ms Cronin’s colleagues on the solicitors’ benches, Robert Marren spoke, and described her as a “warm, generous colleague”.

“The bench needs strong people like Trish, with her level of expertise,” Mr Marren said. “She was always so very generous in helping us all over the years.

“The District Court is lucky to have her, and we’re very sorry to lose her.”

A former student of Our Lady’s School, Templeogue, Ms Cronin studied Law at DIT Aungier Street and worked in a number of industries. She was a legal executive for eight years, initially in an in-house insurance role, and thereafter in private practice, dealing with both civil and criminal litigation. Between 2002 and 2004, she studied at the Law Society of Ireland.

As early as 2004, as a trainee solicitor, she represented clients at Mullingar District Court, which was then presided over by Judge John F Neilan. She qualified as a solicitor in January 2005.

Ms Cronin joined John J Quinn and Co in 2008. A member of the legal aid panel, she became a regular feature on the solicitors’ benches at Mullingar District and Circuit Courts for criminal, civil and family matters.

She became a partner at Quinn and Co in 2016, and for a number of years has run the firm’s office on Mount Street, Mullingar, providing services to clients across the midlands in civil, criminal, family, probate and conveyancing law.

With particular expertise in the criminal area, during her years of practice Ms Cronin attended garda stations for advice and interviews when persons are detained in custody.

Having worked across all tiers of the court system right up to the Supreme Court, Ms Cronin has represented clients in defending all manner of cases from summary public order and road traffic matters, to more serious charges such as rape and murder. She has also regularly dealt with European Arrest Warrant / Extradition cases.

Ms Cronin is also an experienced teacher of law, having lectured in property and family law at Griffith College, Independent Colleges and, since 2012, City Colleges, Dublin.