Irish echo logo 750x550

Death of attorney James Mulvaney

"My father came for a visit in 1985 when I was working in Ireland as a Newsday correspondent," said his son, James Jr. of his father, prominent New York attorney James Mulvaney, who died this week aged 79.

"I got my start in journalism tagging along beside him at crime scenes when he was a prosecutor, so I let him tag along with me for a day of work.

"First stop was the Loyalist Club on the Shankill. We had soup and sandwiches with Andy Tyrie and John McMichael. I'm not sure my father understood they were killers. I told him that he just couldn't admit to being a Catholic. Fortunately, nobody asked," said Mulvaney.

"I was living in Andersonstown and after tea we wandered down to the Felons Club, the famous Republican bar just off the Falls Road. My father was talking to some real old-timers when in came Danny Morrison and Gerry Adams. I told my father to recount lunch but he tangled the names saying, 'a couple of IRA guys named Terry and Mac something.'

Gerry Adams caught on first and whispered in Morrison's ear. They were dumbfounded. 'Lunch with the UDA and late night with IRA.' Ever the gent my father said, 'The pints are better here.'"

Mulvaney Sr. was born and raised in Queens, graduated from Xavier High School in Manhattan and St. Peter's College in Jersey City. He was managing editor of the Cornell Law Review (1954) and received a doctorate in law from Georgetown University School of Law (1955). He was a longtime resident of Garden City and later lived for more than a decade in Rockaway Beach and in California for the past three years.

He was married to Eileen Mulvaney, Ed.D., who he met at a Marymount (Manhattan) College dance. She died in 2005.

Mulvaney worked as an Assistant District Attorney under Frank O'Connor in Queens.

As a defense attorney, he was involved in many headline cases including defending Queens District Attorney Thomas Mackell on corruption charges brought by Special Prosecutor Maurice Nadjari in the 1970s.

His most infamous case resulted in the immortal New York Post headline: "Headless Body in Topless Bar."

Mulvaney's client was a mortician who was visiting the landlord of a bar when a drug crazed man took several hostages and killed one. He forced her to decapitate the dead man; a move police said saved the lives of several people. Although she was initially charged, Mulvaney Sr. got her released.

Mulvaney is survived by his eldest son, James, Deputy Commissioner for External Relations of the New York State Division of Human Rights, son Patrick, a prominent chef in Sacramento. Other survivors include daughters in law and three grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in Rockaway Beach April 17.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.