Castleknock College Union

Peter Smithwick, Class '54

Mar 14, 2022
Peter Smithwick, Class '54 -

The Union is deeply saddened to learn of the recent passing of Peter Smithwick (Class of 1954).

Peter, a native of Co Kilkenny, came to Knock in 1948 and went on to study at University College Dublin. He was a member of the famous Smithwick family who brewed the eponymous ale for many generations until it was acquired in later years by Diageo.

He worked in the family law firm after completing his third-level studies and also took over as director of Smithwick brewery after the retirement of his father, Walter.

Peter had a highly distinguished legal career as a solicitor which would eventually culminate in his appointment as President of the District Court in 1988. He was also the chairman and sole member of the Smithwick Tribunal, a Tribunal of Inquiry which investigated the events surrounding the death of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. His painstaking work led to highly critical findings at the conclusion of the Tribunal.

As President, he was known for possessing the common touch. During a 17-year career in the District Court, he encountered cases of all forms and varieties before him. He was respected by practitioners for his integrity and skill in that environment. As the busiest court in the land which ordinary members of the public were most likely to encounter, those traits were vital.

Peter was famous for his elegance and a being a traditional gentleman. Each day on his way to the Four Courts he would be dressed immaculately in a well cut pinstripe suit, perfectly polished shoes and topped off with a bowler hat.

Away from his legal career, Peter completed a superb translation of the ancient book of Kilkenny, the Liber Primus Kilkenniensis, from Latin to English. He was a Renaissance man who had a wonderful knowledge of history and spoke fluent Irish.

He was a man of Kilkenny who was deeply proud of the contribution his family had made there.

Above all else, Peter Smithwick was a devoted family man. He was married to Deirdre and had two daughters, Thalia and Aoife.

His loss is even more acute as it comes so soon after the passing of his brother, Paul.

The Union expresses its deepest condolences to his family and close friends.

Requiescat in Pace.