Healy, Maurice Francis (1887–1943), barrister and author, was born at 16 Mountjoy Place, Dublin, on 16 November 1887, the eldest of the three children of Maurice Healy (qv), a Cork solicitor and later an MP, and his wife and cousin, Annie, the daughter of A. M. Sullivan (qv) (1830–84). He was educated at Christian Brothers’ College, Cork, Clongowes Wood College, and UCD, from which in 1907 he took an honours degree in history, political economy, and jurisprudence at the RUI. While at UCD he was gold medalist and auditor of the Literary and Historical Society. Healy then read for the bar at TCD and the King's Inns and was called in 1910. Later that year he stood unsuccessfully for West Waterford in the interest of the All-for-Ireland Party against the official candidate of the Irish parliamentary party. Between 1910 and 1915 he practised at the Irish bar, mainly on the Munster circuit. He was called ad eundem to the English bar at Gray's Inn in 1914.
In 1915 Healy obtained a commission in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, with whom he saw action both on the Western Front and in Gallipoli. He later served at the headquarters of the 29th Division in France and then in Germany during the occupation that followed the cessation of hostilities on 11 November 1918. He was awarded the MC shortly before his retirement early in 1919 with the rank of captain.
Healy returned briefly to the Munster circuit before moving to London, where he set up practice in the chambers of his maternal uncle Serjeant Alexander Sullivan (qv) (1871–1959). Having cut his teeth at the North London sessions, he joined the Midland circuit and built up a good common law practice, especially around Birmingham. He was an astute advocate and had a good way with both judges and juries. In 1931 he was appointed a KC, but was less successful than had been anticipated, as he seems to have allowed himself to be diverted by other activities, especially his love of wine: he had come to wine with the zeal of a convert, having been a teetotaler until his time at the headquarters of the 29th Division. He was a member of several dining clubs, in one of which, known as ‘Ye Set of Old Volumes’, he acquired the nickname ‘The Prattler’, and he was involved with his close friend André Simon in the foundation of the Wine and Food Society. In 1934 he published a volume on claret and the white wines of Bordeaux, in the introduction to which he stated his conviction that ‘the good talk that is inseparable from a wine dinner is even more important than the wines that are being served.’ He himself was a charming conversationalist. In Who's who he listed his recreations as talking and listening to music. He was famous for his hospitality to the young.
Healy secured a niche as an occasional broadcaster on the BBC. In 1937 he broadcast in tones that were still recognisably of Cork in a series of memoirs of the previous coronation year, 1911, which, as he said in his talk, had been the happiest of his life. Although some of his Irish acquaintances resented his integration in English life, he remained nationalist enough to advise his old friend Thomas Bodkin (qv) on securing the return of Hugh Lane's (qv) paintings from the Tate Gallery to Dublin. He suggested that the unwitnessed codicil leaving the paintings to Dublin should be treated on the same basis as that of a soldier killed on active service, which did not have to be witnessed.
Much of Healy's peerless conversation consisted of stories from his days at the Irish bar. Out of this vein of reminiscence was born his classic memoir The old Munster circuit, published in March 1939, which is generally regarded as one of the finest volumes of legal memoirs. It has gone through many editions. The book is written with art and conveys the charm of the author but, for all its benignity, it was faulted for harsh treatment of some old adversaries of the Healy family. In 1940 Healy gave a series of broadcasts, one of which, after the evacuation of the British army from Dunkirk, was so memorable as to be retained in the BBC archives. That same year also saw the publication of Stay me with flagons, a charming book rich in allusion that covered not only wines, on which he was expert, but also spirits and beers, which he seldom consumed. It makes a powerful case against teetotalism.
Healy, who had been elected a bencher of the Inner Temple in 1938, was appointed recorder of the bombed-out city of Coventry in 1941, and as such sat as a part-time judge in criminal cases. He was diagnosed with nephritis in the following year, and following a protracted illness, during which he was nursed by his mother's sister Josephine, he died 9 May 1943 at his flat, 72 Courtfield Gardens in west London.