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James Osborne respected corporate lawyer dead at 68

31 Aug 2017 / corporate-law Print

Tributes to the late James Osborne, ex-A&L Goodbody

Warm tributes have been paid to respected legal figure James Osborne who has died suddenly at the age of 68.

His former colleagues at A&L Goodbody said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by the death of our former managing partner and dear friend, James Osborne. James was an enormously charismatic individual who was held in the highest esteem by everyone he worked with through the years.

“James was the driving force behind the outward-looking, commercial, international law firm that A&L Goodbody now is.

He made an exceptional contribution to our firm and who we are and will be greatly missed by us all.”


Julian Yarr, managing partner of A&L Goodbody, said "We were very saddened to hear about the passing of our dear friend and colleague James Osborne. James made an exceptional contribution to A&L Goodbody and Irish corporate life.

"We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends at this very sad time."

Known for his unfailing courtesy, Osborne was also chairman of Eason and a long-time director of Ryanair. He also gave lengthy service on the board on Independent News and Media.

An Eason statement said “It is with great sadness that we have learned about the passing of our chairman, James Osborne.

"Managing director Liam Hanly, the board and the staff of Eason would like to express our gratitude to an exceptional friend and colleague. Our sympathies and condolences are with his family and friends at this time."

A spokesman for Ryanair said, “The board and people of Ryanair express their deepest sympathy to the family and friends of James Osborne, who served as a director of Ryanair for the past 21 years, on his untimely passing. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. May he rest in peace.”

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys also has expressed her sadness. James Osborne served as director of the Irish Heritage Trust since it was established in 2006 and has served as its chairman since November 2012.

The Minister offered her sympathy and condolences to James Osborne’s family and also expressed her gratitude for his dedication to and enthusiasm for the heritage sector.

“James’ tenure as chairman of the Irish Heritage Trust was very successful. Under his leadership, the Trust has made a huge contribution to the preservation and enjoyment of some of our most important heritage buildings, from Fota House and Gardens to the Dublin Tenement Experience, new initiatives at Strokestown Park and the planned regeneration of Johnstown Castle, Estate and Gardens in Wexford.


“James’ legacy in the heritage area is a significant one and he will be very sadly missed. I would like to express my sincere condolences to James’ family and friends at this difficult time.”

James Osborne graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a BA in 1972. He joined the A&L Goodbody in 1973 and became managing partner just six years later at the age of 32. He then worked for two years in New York establishing a branch of the firm there.

Osborne was described by colleagues as a "brilliant and personable lawyer".

As managing partner of Goodbody's from 1982 he drove it on to become one of the top legal firms in the country.


In his role as legal adviser to Larry Goodman he helped in the restructuring of the Goodman meat business following examinership in 1990.

He retired in 1994 at the age of 45 but maintained his consultant’s office in Goodbody’s.

He was later appointed a director of Bank of Ireland and of the agri-food company Golden Vale. James Osborne's leisure pursuits were horse racing, sailing and heritage. He was chairman of Punchestown racecourse for a number of years and a member of the board at Fota House in Co Cork. He sailed each summer in a 46-foot cruiser called Hibernia.

He is survived by his wife Heather and two daughters from his marriage, and his partner Patricia Devine and their daughter.

A memorial service took place in the Examination Hall, Front Square, Trinity College, Dublin on 25 August 2017.

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