Con Lavery: Dapper and determined solicitor died suddenly on holiday in Spain
NEAT, precise and always immaculately turned out, solicitor Con Lavery made an impression anywhere he went.
Right back from his schooldays at St Colman's College, Newry he stood out, with one fellow student recalling how he had "never seen as dapper an 11-year-old".
And Con brought this attention to detail into his working life, becoming renowned for his thoroughness and professionalism in legal circles.
In emotional tributes before friends, family and colleagues at Banbridge Magistrates Court last week, District Judge Paul Copeland said he "presented cases with a forensic economy - every word struck home with purpose and focus".
"Some 40 years in practice earned him an enviable reputation for expertise, judgement and professional skill," he said.
"He had a quiet, good-humoured, unflappable and assured demeanour, but nonetheless he was tenacious and resolute in a just outcome for his clients."
He added: "He was a good man, a fine lawyer and a good friend. I am so sorry we have lost him."
Mr Lavery, who died suddenly aged 66 while on holiday in Spain, had been a highly-respected solicitor based in Banbridge.
He was born in Derrymacash in Co Armagh, the middle of three sons of the late Bill and Eileen Lavery, and after studying law at Queen's University alongside Judge Copeland he became an apprentice solicitor with Eamon McEvoy & Co in Lurgan in 1975.
From early on he specialised in conveyancing and after the firm branched out to Banbridge in 1981, he and his wife Ethna made the town their home.
The couple had met as undergraduates at Queen's in 1973 and married in 1980 in Belfast. They were blessed with two children - James and Helen - as well as two grandchildren.
In 2004 Con set up his own business, Con Lavery & Co, offering the full range of services from offices in Bridge Street.
Frank McCartan, who worked with him at McEvoy & Co and in recent years in his own firm, said his death was a devastating blow to staff and the wider legal world.
"Con was a very affable man, very easy-going, very friendly and very trustworthy and reliable," he said.
"He was the sort of man who bought his round, as the saying goes, and no-one ever had a bad word to say about him. He will be very sadly missed."
Outside work Con was passionate about sailing, owning a boat and enjoying days out on Strangford Lough.
He also followed rugby and GAA and read widely, a renaissance man who always wore his intelligence lightly.
Conleth Lavery died on September 29 and his funeral took place at St Thérèse’s Church, Banbridge last Sunday.
He is survived by his wife Ethna, son James, daughter Helen, daughter-in-law Sarah Louise and grandchildren Lilly and Jake.