A New Legal Portrait Acquired at King’s Inns
On Monday 11 April we had a small celebration at the Inns with the Johnston family who have gifted to us, on indefinite loan, a portrait by Sean O’Sullivan RHA of their distinguished forebear, Judge William J Johnston. The King’s Inns educated Hon Mr Justice Johnston served as a judge of the Circuit, High and Supreme Courts in a judicial career that straddled both the pre 1922 British administration and post–independence Ireland. Our photograph at the presentation event shows his grandson, Michael Johnston, a former broadcaster & journalist with RTE & the BBC and his sister, Jennifer Johnston, the well–known novelist, with Chairman of our Fine Arts Committee, Hon Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and Chairman of the Council of King’s Inns Hon Mr Hugh O’Neill SC.
Judge Johnston was a highly respected jurist whose nickname ‘Civil Bill’ reflects the esteem in which he was held by court practitioners. He was elevated in turn to the High and Supreme Courts by succeeding Cumann na Gael and Fianna Fáil administrations. His son, Denis Johnston BL, was also a chancery lawyer for a period but is better remembered for his legendary literary output, including the plays ‘The Old Lady Says No’ & ‘The Moon in the Yellow River’. His personal memoir of his involvement in the Second World War, ‘ Nine Rivers from Jordan’ was also an acclaimed work.
The Johnston family home on Lansdowne Road was briefly occupied by insurgents during the Easter Rising of 1916 & the then teenage Denis Johnston later recalled his mother making tea for the rebels!