On first meeting Phonsie, people were invariably struck by his ordinariness. He was small in stature and in no way ostentatious in dress or manner but as they got to know him, they realised this was no ordinary man.
Phonsie Grogan was a character who loved life and the practice of the law. Clients who consulted him found a man in whom they could readily confide. He was approachable and no one doubted that he would ever betray a confidence.
Barristers engaged by Phonsie invariably admired his skill and tenacity as a Solicitor. His handling of litigation was masterly. He took his clients instructions; he wrote the usual preliminary correspondence; he instructed counsel to draft proceedings; and he brought those proceedings to a conclusion as quickly as the system would allow.
But though thorough and efficient, Phonsie was not mechanical. He had a big heart; he liked his clients and he liked the people he worked with, opponents as well as comrades. And his affection was invariably reciprocated.
His good humour was reflected in his gift for epigram. Phonsie did not eat, he “put the nosebag on”. A Barrister opening negotiations on behalf of his client had to be sure to “open his mouth wide enough”. And at the end of a case the opposition always knew what he meant when the demand was made for “a biscuit for the child”.
Above all, Phonsie had the most important quality in a solicitor; he was a man of integrity. He was scrupulously honest and fair. His fairness meant that if criticism had to be made, he made it, irrespective of whom and irrespective of the consequences.
Phonsie Grogan qualified as a solicitor relatively late in life. In 30 years he built one of the largest practices of its kind in Dublin. And, as he would have been the first to acknowledge, he did so with the help of a devoted and loyal staff. But Phonsie was not a modern day workaholic, there was balance in his life. He loved golf and in his later years having overcome his fear of flying, he enjoyed travel abroad.
Phonsie was exceptionally devoted to his family. For them, his widow Tess and son Brian, the loss was almost unspeakable. Phonsie Grogan will always be missed. For those of us who knew him, it was a privilege.
“Go ndeana Dia trocaire ar a anam.”
M. de B., H.H.