Appreciation: Kevin Waldron, Our Former Director of Education
King’s Inns Barristers 1868–2004 (Kenneth Ferguson, Ed.) informs us that James Kevin Waldron was born on the 4 April 1921. In his Inns career he was awarded the first Victoria Prize and was called to the Bar in 1948. He had a remarkably distinguished career in the law. This was reflected in the many who attended his Requeim Mass in the Church of the Assumption, Booterstown, on the 21 January 2015. He was 93 years of age.
He served as Registrar to many judges in the High Court, including Mr. Justice Costello. After becoming Senior Registrar in the High Court and overseeing the Central Office, he became the Registrar of the Supreme Court in 1982. On his retirement from what is now described as the Courts Service in 1984, he became the Director of Education in the King’s Inns. In this role, he brought a wealth of experience of life in the law to the services provided in that office. Many practitioners today who qualified as barristers through the Diploma in Legal Studies course as an entry to the professional course in the Inns will have particularly fond memories of Kevin.
Having been a familiar face to generations of practitioners, he now provided educational services at the highest level to those students entering the Diploma in Legal Studies course as well as the Professional Bar course. He served as Director of Education for a period of sixteen years until his retirement from that post in 2000.
A notable achievement of Kevin Waldron, appreciated by professional bar students in particular, were his well known and much respected Waldron’s Notes. Published in cyclo–styled format in the 1960s under the name J.K. Waldron from his private address, they were the first introduction for many students preparing for the then Junior Victoria examination and the Senior Victoria examination to reserved judgments of the Irish Superior Courts of particular relevance to practitioners. Strange as it may seem to the present generation of law students, there were no Irish text books in the 1960s and early 1970s. Kiely’s The Principles of Equity had been published in 1936 but never updated. Sandes’ Criminal Practice, Procedure and Evidence in the Irish Free State had been published in 1930 and never updated. J.M. Kelly’s Fundamental Rights in the Irish Law and Constitution (1961) was the exception. It of course was to be replaced in 1980 by his magisterial The Irish Constitution now in its fourth edition under distinguished editors. In their legal studies, university undergraduates were told to read relevant English text books. In studying the law of property, they were told to ignore anything post 1925 when the Birkenhead reforming legislation came into operation! Wylie’s Irish Land Law was not published until 1975. A similar statement on the dearth of text books on Irish law is mentioned by Mr. Justice Kelly in his foreword to the first edition of O’Floinn, Practice and Procedure in the Superior Courts published in 1996.
Waldron’s Notes thus served an invaluable reference to leading Irish cases on those areas of the law examined in the final Bar Examination. The present generation of law students are now served with a plethora of legal commentaries. Waldron’s Notes, in their day, filled a much needed gap in the education of professional Bar students.
In recognition of his services to the legal profession and to the King’s Inns in 2000 he was elected an Honorary Bencher of the Honorable Society of King’s Inns. This is a unique achievement and singles Kevin Waldron from all Registrars of the Supreme Court who have served that court with such distinction since its establishment in 1924.
He also personifies a tradition in the staff of the Superior Courts who qualify as barristers and bring that experience to the services provided as Court Registrars. This also lends to the high standard of administration in the Courts Service.
Kevin Waldron enjoyed his long retirement and was 93 years of age at his passing. Like the 19th century judge Mr. Justice Lefroy who lived to a similar age, interest in the law leads to a long life.