Fogarty, Christopher P. (‘Robin’) (1928–95), diplomat, was born 3 July 1928 at 23 Kenilworth Park, Rathmines, Dublin, the only son of Christopher Fogarty, civil servant, of Harbour View, Dingle, Co. Kerry, and Margaret Fogarty (née Matthews). He was educated at O'Connell Schools, North Circular Road, Dublin, and TCD.
Fogarty entered the civil service as an executive officer in the Department of Social Welfare on 1 July 1947. He transferred to the Department of Finance at administrative-officer grade in November 1953, and entered the Department of External Affairs as a third secretary on 7 December 1956. In January 1958, after over a year at headquarters dealing with protocol and cultural matters, in a period where promotions were few and far between, Fogarty was appointed to the Irish consulate in Chicago. He spent just one-and-a-half years in Chicago, leaving for the consulate in New York in July 1959, where he remained to September 1961. Fogarty then transferred to Boston for a month before returning in October 1961 to New York, where he remained until early 1963. These postings involved mainly technical work connected with consular duties such as issuing passports and dealing with estate cases; however, consulates did work fairly closely with the local Irish-American communities in their districts.
Fogarty was appointed first secretary to the Irish embassy at Lagos, Nigeria, in January 1963. This was a relatively new embassy, having been opened in 1961. But the minister for external affairs, Frank Aiken (qv), had spotted Fogarty as a high flier and he spent only eighteen months in the Nigerian capital, returning to headquarters in Dublin in July 1964. Copenhagen was Fogarty's next posting, in September 1967. It brought him into the ambit of European affairs, and as Denmark, like Ireland, aspired to EEC membership, it also brought him into the realms of European integration. The EEC would take up the next six years of his diplomatic career.
When Fogarty returned to Dublin in January 1970, being promoted to the rank of counsellor in March 1970, Ireland had reopened negotiations for admission to the EEC and it was expected these would be concluded by 1972. Fogarty was an official on the Irish delegation assisting the minister for foreign affairs, Patrick Hillery, to negotiate membership of the EEC. His abilities were stunningly apparent during these sessions, where ‘one marvelled at his knowledge’ (Sunday Independent). Here his grasp of complicated briefs and of detail came to the fore. Through his career Fogarty's quick recall, organisational abilities, and drafting skills were widely praised, if sometimes held in fear by under-performing junior colleagues. He practised the highest standards and expected the same from his staff. As part of his EEC duties, Fogarty played a key role in the writing of the 1972 white paper on EEC membership and was widely known for briefing journalists through the 1973 referendum on EEC membership. When Hillery became Irish EEC commissioner in January 1973, Fogarty followed him to Brussels as his chef de cabinet. However, Fogarty was not suited to the Brussels environment, and his relationship with Hillery suffered. He returned to Iveagh House in April 1973.
In September 1973 Fogarty departed for Tokyo as Ireland's first ambassador to Japan. His brief was to improve Irish trade relations with Japan, and a notable expansion of Irish trade with Japan occurred in the late 1970s. In Tokyo ‘his true colours emerged’ (Sunday Independent). Fogarty's appointment should be seen as the beginning of an eastward expansion in Irish foreign policy in the context of EEC membership and European political cooperation, an area in which Fogarty was well experienced. He developed an invaluable friendship with the crown princess, who had been taught by Irish Sacred Heart nuns and who studied Irish literature and the Irish language. Fogarty and his wife Pauline established themselves as ‘a striking and very effective new presence for Ireland in Japanese political and business circles’ (Irish Times). In Tokyo Fogarty did not limit his brief simply to Japan, but reported to Dublin on political events in north and south-east Asia. He paid particular attention, for example, to the emergence of Deng Xiaoping in China. He greatly appreciated Japanese achievements and culture and on leaving Tokyo hoped to return to Japan in a later posting.
Returning to Europe in March 1976, Fogarty was appointed ambassador to Germany, a post he held for eight years, promoting Irish trade and economic interests, and which involved a role in ensuring for Ireland a successful presidency of the EEC. It was widely known in these years that Fogarty's relationship with Charles J. Haughey (1925–2006) was less than cordial, for personal reasons. Yet Fogarty organised an outstanding visit to Bonn by Haughey when Haughey was taoiseach. In September 1983 Fogarty returned to Dublin as deputy secretary in charge of the economic division, his first appointment at headquarters for ten years. In February 1987 he was appointed ambassador to Italy and in December 1991 ambassador to Switzerland; a post he had once refused in no uncertain terms was now eminently suitable as a final posting after a diplomatic career spanning thirty-five years.
Outside diplomacy, Fogarty had wide interests from cycling, swimming, and walking, through early cinema and jazz, to fiction, poetry, and modern history. Robin Fogarty retired on 3 July 1993. He died suddenly on 15 November 1995 at St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, and was cremated in Glasnevin cemetery on 17 November. In an obituary, journalist Raymond Smith (1932–2000) described Fogarty as ‘a born career diplomat, a legendary figure in his own lifetime’ (Sunday Independent). His Foreign Affairs colleague Richard Ryan wrote in the Irish Times that Fogarty was ‘one of the most formidable Irish diplomatic officers of his generation’. Another colleague, and former ambassador to Japan, Seán Ronan (qv), in a further obituary, considered Fogarty to be ‘a tough hombre, but with a soft centre’ (Sunday Tribune).
Robin Fogarty married Pauline Elizabeth Patterson (daughter of William Patterson of Dublin), to whom he had become engaged on 3 September 1960 in Jackson Heights, New York. They had two daughters, Emer and Rachel.