Tributes have been paid to Chief Justice Frank Clarke who retired today.

In the Supreme Court, the incoming Chief Justice, Donal O'Donnell, said the sheer scale of the subject matter of judgments delivered by his predecessor, was "breath taking".

Mr Justice Clarke had probably delivered a judgment on every area of law and they were among the most regularly relied on in other courts in recent years, he said.

He also praised Mr Justice Clarke’s collaborative approach to drafting the court’s judgments, which he said were always likely to value "clarity above cleverosity".

Mr Justice O’Donnell also said that his predecessor shouldered the burden of the demands made of a chief justice with "considerable cheerfulness and enthusiasm."

On behalf of the Bar Council, Senior Counsel Séamus Clarke said the Chief Justice would be leaving a voluminous trail of highly influential judgments.

He praised the strides the Chief Justice had made to demystify court proceedings and processes for the general public.

Séamus Clarke pointed out that the Chief Justice had overseen the first live broadcast of the Supreme Court on television shortly after being appointed. As Chief Justice, he said, Mr Justice Clarke oversaw sittings of the court in Limerick, Galway, Kilkenny and Waterford, emphasising that it was a court for all of Ireland.

Tributes were also paid by President of the Law Society James Cahill as well as CEO of the Courts Service
Angela Denning. Secretary of the Judicial Council Kevin O’Neill and Supreme Court registrar John Mahon were also among those paying tribute.

In his own remarks, Mr Justice Clarke said he could not recollect having had a bad word with any of his colleagues over the years.

He said it was of particular importance on a collegiate court that judges could get on. They did not have to be best friends, he said, or to agree.

But, he said, to be able to maintain a professional relationship where people could disagree strongly and express that disagreement and still get on on a personal level was a hugely important part of the functioning of an appellate court. That had been the way things had always worked during his time as a judge.

Frank Clarke will turn 70 on Sunday. He was born in Dublin and educated at Drimnagh Castle Christian Brothers’ school. He was called to the bar in 1973 and became a High Court judge in 2004. He was appointed Chief Justice in 2017.

One of his first acts as Chief Justice was to allow television cameras into the court to film Supreme Court judgments being handed down. He expressed the hope this would demystify the courts process and help to explain and create an understanding of the legal system.

Quoting William Shatner, as Captain Kirk in Star Trek, who said what was important was to "make a difference", Mr Justice Clarke said that if he had made a difference to his time and place then he would be happy.