29 February 2016
The death has taken place of Henry Comerford, a leading Galway solicitor and a former Fine Gael candidate in the general election in 1981. He was a helpful and encouraging source when I was compiling a history of the Comerford family in Galway.
Henry Comerford (1936-2016) was born in Dublin in 1936, the second son of the Galway solicitor, William James Valentine Comerford, of Tuam, Co Galway, and his wife Elizabeth (Meagher). William was also a well-known local historian in Co Galway, and he believed his branch of the Comerford family was descended from the Comerford family of Inchiholohan, Co Kilkenny.
William’s historical papers included: “Some notes on the Borough of Tuam and its records, 1817–1822,” in the Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, vol 15, Nos 3 and 4 (No 19), pp 97-120 (no date, ca 1932-1933), and he was a founding member of the Old Tuam Society in 1942. He was the author also of an unpublished autobiography, “Harp sheds Crown.”
William moved to Comerford House, beside the Spanish Arch in Galway, in the 1950s, but when he retired in the 1970s he moved to Dublin, where he died.
Henry Comerford was educated at Castleknock College, Dublin (1954), and at University College Dublin and University College Galway. When he qualified as a solicitor in 1963, he joined the family practice in Galway.
In 1963, he also married Deirdre Donovan, from Tralee, Co Kerry, in Castlebar, Co Mayo, and they are the parents of a son and a daughter.
Henry was the author of the standard reference books on fisheries legislation in Ireland. In the 1950s, he was a member of the Radio Éireann Players, and featured in many broadcast plays, including Denis Johnston’s The Moon on the Yellow River. Later he acted with the Gate and the Gas Company Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, and he had two plays produced in the Peacock Theatre.
Henry Comerford continued in partnership in Galway following his father’s retirement in the early 1970s. He later amalgamated the then firm of Henry Concanon & Co with Sean Ford or Sean MacGiollarnath and Albert L O’Dea under the practice name of Concanon & Co as the new firm’s name.
In the 1981 General Election, Henry stood unsuccessfully for the Dail as a Fine Gael candidate.
The partnership Concanon & Co was dissolved amicably in 1982, and Henry Comerford began a new practice as a sole practitioner that year as Henry Comerford & Co at Sea Road, Galway.
He retired when John Dillon-Leetch and Robert Potter-Cogan acquired the practice in 1995, and they continue to practice with the name of Henry Comerford & Co. “Traditionally we stand for unyielding adherence to the principles of trust, fair play and independence in pursuit of justice,” they say. “Our clients are individuals who seek professional and independent legal expertise. Truth and experience constitute our foundations.”
Henry was in his 80th year when he died peacefully at his home in Luimnagh West, Corrandulla, Galway, last Friday [26 February 2016]. He is survived by his wife Deirdre and their son and daughter, Stephen and Emma, his sisters Deirdre and Denise, son-in-law Patsy, Vera, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, grandchildren Paddy and Rian, extended family and a wide circle of friends.
His funeral Mass took place this morning [29 February 2016] in Saint Brendan’s Church, Corrandulla, and was followed by a committal service at Mount Jerome Crematorium, Dublin, this afternoon.
During Lent this year, I am taking time each morning to reflect on words from Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), the Lichfield lexicographer and writer who compiled the first authoritative English-language dictionary.
This is a leap year, but the legislation reforming a Leap Year and introducing the Gregorian Calendar was not passed until 1751, and came into force in 1752. Confusion reigned in England in September 1752, and Ireland did not follow until 1780.
On 29 February, in this leap year, it is worth noting that in the 1775 edition of his Dictionary, Johnson provides an up-to-date definition of a Leap Year and a way of calculating a Leap Year that explained the new legislation:
Leap-year or bissextile is every fourth year, and so called from its leaping a day more that year than in a common year: so that the common year hath 365 days, but the leap-year 366; and then February hath 29 days, which in common years hath but 28. To find the leap-year you have this rule:
Divide by 4; what’s left shall be
For leap-year 0, for past 1, 2, 3. Harris.
That the sun consisteth of 365 days and almost six hours, wanting eleven minutes; which six hours omitted will, in process of time, largely deprave the compute; and this is the occasion of the bissextile or leap-year. Brown’s Vulg. Err.