Belfast Telegraph

Michael Lavery's passing is end of an era, colleague tells mourners

Relatives of Michael Lavery comfort each other
Relatives of Michael Lavery comfort each other
Michael Lavery's coffin is carried out of St Brigid’s
Michael Lavery
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

Hundreds of mourners at the funeral of top barrister Charles Michael Lavery QC have been told that he was defined by his "capacity for friendship".

His Requiem Mass was led by Father Derek Kearney, but it was Mr Lavery's colleague Brett Lockhart QC who delivered the emotional homily to those gathered in St Brigid's Church in Belfast.

"With his mellifluous tone, understated delivery and self-deprecating humour, Michael Lavery was for 61 years the most persuasive of advocates in the courts of Northern Ireland," he said.

"Michael disliked hyperbole, but it is entirely accurate to say that his passing is the end of an era."

Condolences were extended to his family, including his five children Gisela, Michael, Finbar, Ronan and Annelieze.

Mr Lockharte also offered prayers for Mr Lavery's heartbroken sister Mairead and his 11 grandchildren before recalling his "fascination with all things German" after he fell in love a medical student from Bonn who was studying in Belfast.

Mr Lavery's wife Dr Antje Lavery passed away in 2008 after almost 46 years of marriage.

"He picked up by ear the language and family holidays were invariably focused on visiting with Antje's family," Mr Lockhart said.

"But it was the law, however, that was his greatest interest.

"Four of his five children followed in his footsteps and the Bar Library was in many genuine ways his second family."

Mr Lavery studied law at Queen's University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin before being called to the Bar in 1956 and went on to become an advocate in many high-profile cases.

He represented some of the families of the Bloody Sunday victims at the Saville Inquiry.

Mr Lockhart recalled Mr Lavery's pride that his granddaughter Niamh was called to the Bar in 2016, a year before he retired, meaning there were three generations of the Lavery family practising at the same time.

Mr Lockhart said that above all, Mr Lavery understood that relationships are "not based on self-interest, but in unselfish love for another person".

He said that he embodied charity as defined by St Thomas Aquinas.

"He made friendship the central point of all his theological works, by defining charity, as friendship," he said.

The congregation were told that of all Mr Lavery's undoubted talents as a barrister, it was his "capacity for friendship" which stood out and became his hallmark.

"It was a wonderful reminder that first and foremost he was a husband, father and grandfather, although admittedly, one that never wanted to miss a phone call," he added.

However, Mr Lockhart acknowledged Mr Lavery's "humble spirit" which was demonstrated in the face of much adversity throughout his life.

"His fortitude in the face of the heavy blow of Antje's death, the steely determination he revealed after being held at knife point, tied up and robbed in his own home, the absence of anger or self-pity as he faced the privations and challenges of being essentially confined to bed in a nursing home," he said.

Mr Lavery was laid to rest in Roselawn Cemetery following the service.

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