12 August 1960. Somewhere on some hillside, a grouse came face to face for the first time with a seemingly stubborn and immoveable force. Feathers flew.
The “Glorious Twelfth” marks the start of a season when a few folks get to find pleasure holding to an implausible perspective and cheerfully denying what is obvious to lots of other people. The certainty of traditions while dressed in funny clothes may distract, but it does not disguise.
On that day in 1960, one Ciarán Fenton was born. Sixty today.
If you only know him through social media posts or the occasional presentation at a conference, you might be tempted to think he has played the grouse well. He certainly seems to relish jabbing at a legal profession that stubbornly denies what seems obvious to him, not least the destructive patterns of behaviours that hurt too many people, and its resistance to change. For some the style irks, but what I see is too many clever people using complexity to distract themselves. It does not disguise our collective failings.
I have known Ciarán for a decade. He is a dear friend, but he is so much more important to the legal profession (and to leadership in the profession) than my friendship. He is a bold and courageous thinker. He cares with a passion which has intensified with age and not dimmed. He challenges not for the sake of challenge, but because to stand by when things are really shit is to accept that it cannot be better. He knows we must try to make it better.
When I look back on people who have influenced my thinking, very few people have had the profound and lasting impact that Ciarán has had on me. He is a glorious one-off, a provocateur, a philosopher, a palate cleanser, a wonderful writer and a loyal, passionate game-changer. I love his soulfulness, his discomfort with settled thinking, his care of history and his relish in storytelling. He is a great man, we are blessed to have him and I love him to bits.
Happy birthday Ciarán x