As a young lad growing up in Offaly Street my sporting activities were largely confined to the playing of Gaelic football, with an occasional clumsy foray into the classiest of all team sports, hurling. In those pre-television days sporting heroes were of the homegrown sort. English soccer was no part of my sporting lexicon and even the home based equivalent seldom aroused any interest. However, despite the operation of the G.A.A. ban the local rugby team always attracted some of my attention. Was it I wonder a reflected interest stemming from the Irish rugby team which so far as I was aware was the only Irish sports team which embraced the 32 counties? Whatever the reason this proud G.A.A. fellow was an interested follower of the local rugby team and being a young lad looked on the likes of Reggie Rowan, Jack Ryan and Cyril Osborne as some of my early sporting interests. Reggie was a good friend of my brother George, while Jack had shared early school classes with me in the local Christian Brothers school.
Cyril Osborne was one of the stars of the Athy Rugby Club during the second half of the 1950s. His electrifying burst of speed at a time when rugby role models centered on the likes of Jack Kyle rather than ‘battering ram’ players of today gave the young Athy player a cache of young supporters and admirers. I was one of those young fellows and in later years, long after Cyril retired from rugby and when I returned to Athy, I met the man who was not only a good rugby player but more importantly an exceptionally thoughtful and helpful person.
It was 35 years ago that I set up practice in the town where I had spent my formative years. I did so after an absence of 21 years spent in Naas, Kells, Monaghan and Dublin and although I had qualified initially as a barrister and later as a solicitor I knew little or nothing of the practicalities or procedures which are an important part of any solicitor’s practice. Cyril Osborne was of tremendous help to me in that regard. I well remember my first day in Court. I had no cases but Cyril with whom I was sitting passed me what I now know was a straight forward application and advised me how to address the Court. His thoughtfulness for the newcomer was admirable and was displayed on many occasions in the following years whenever his advice was sought. He was always generous with his advice and never once in the past 35 years had I ever any reason to question his common-sense approach to even the most complex issue. He was for me, especially in my early years of practice, a valued mentor who was always ready and willing to help a colleague.
The practice of law requires not just a knowledge of the law but also a level of honesty, tact and integrity which was the hallmark of the legal profession of times past. Cyril’s father, Bob Osborne, qualified as a solicitor in 1915 and opened a practice joining with Robert Monks. Bob Osborne subsequently bought out his partner and developed what was to become the largest legal practice in Athy. Cyril, who qualified as a Solicitor in 1965, joined his father in the practice and Cyril in turn was joined by his son David who now carries on the practise as the third generation of the Osborne family.
With the passing of Cyril Osborne, who was a former President of the Kildare Bar Association, the Athy legal profession has lost a colleague who gave of his best for his clients. He did so with tact and discretion bringing to his role as a solicitor a wealth of knowledge and experience coupled with a sympathetic understanding of the needs of his clients. Cyril was not only a colleague, but also a friend who was justifiably proud of his family’s involvement in the affairs of the town of Athy over the past 100 years. Over 60 years ago Bob Osborne donated land on the Carlow Road for community use and I am conscious that a young Bob Osborne after he married lived for a few years in Ardreigh House where I am now writing this article.
We will all miss Cyril Osborne. Others may write of his contribution to Athy Rugby Club and Athy Golf Club but for me and my colleagues in Athy, in County Kildare, and in the neighbouring counties the memory will be of a gentleman who brought courtesy and integrity to his practice of the law.
Cyril is survived by his wife Maeve, his daughter Brona and his sons David and Alan and four grandchildren to whom our sympathies are extended.