THE former, retired district court judge for Kilkenny, Patrick Keenan Johnson has passed away.
He sat on the bench in Kilkenny for many years and was extremely popular, even with defendants. He had a great sense of humour and preferred to give people who came before him a dressing down in court rather than a hefty fine or incarceration. Asked how a defendant would indicate he was turning left in a car with no indicators, he would wait for the motorist to make the fatal mistake of attempting to answer the question before pouncing on them.
He preferred that defendants made considerable contributions to the court poor box rather than endorse their licences for speeding offences while also giving them stern advice and making sure the money raised went to extremely worthy causes..
He would often look to the media section of the court in exacerbation during hearings and explain that he wasn’t living in an ivory tower and that he knew the pressure that ordinary people were under. He once asked a young reporter if he, like the defendant before him from Newtownmountkennedy, could drink 12 large bottles of cider in one sitting, adding rhetorically that he certainly wouldn’t be able to do so. He had a genuine empathy with those who came before him and he never tolerated the slightest inference of domestic abuse.
The 90-year-old lived for many years in Tramore but died in County Sligo where he retired some years ago. He was buried yesterday (Tuesday) in St. Columba’s Cemetery, Ballymote.
Commenting on the death, Judge Eamon O’Brien, sitting in Kilkenny city on Monday, said of Mr Keenan-Johnson: “I believe that he served the district well and was a colourful judge who spoke his mind. He was also involved in many charities and founded a charity in Waterford city for disadvantaged children.”
“It is with sorrow and nostalgia that I have heard of his death. He served here in Kilkenny from before the beginning of my professional life in 1979. It is a very sad loss for his family. He led a full and vigorous life up until an advanced age,” solicitor Tom Walsh said.
While Liam Nolan of the Court Service, said his sympathies went to the late judge’s wife Therese and family. “I knew him personally. He was on the bench on my first day and I was working at his last court. He served the people of Kilkenny well and was a great character who will be greatly missed,” Mr Nolan said.