Sheehy, Eugene (1883–1958), barrister and circuit court judge, was born 26 March 1883, the younger son of David Sheehy (qv), for many years a member of the Irish parliamentary party at Westminster and the Fenian Brotherhood, who was imprisoned a number of times for political offences, and his wife Elizabeth McCoy, from Loughill, Co. Limerick. His uncle Fr Eugene Sheehy (qv) was active as a young curate in Co. Limerick in the early days of the Land League, and was imprisoned in Kilmainham jail with Charles Stewart Parnell (qv). Eugene had five sisters, three of whom married persons prominent in public life in the early part of the twentieth century: Francis Sheehy Skeffington (qv), Tom Kettle (qv) (both of whom he had known at school and college), and Francis Cruise O'Brien (qv). His elder brother Richard also became a member of the Irish bar.
Sheehy studied at Belvedere College, Dublin, where James Joyce (qv) was one of his fellow students. In 1899, when aged sixteen, he entered UCD. His lectures were few and much of his time was spent in the NLI in Kildare Street, where his circle included not only his friends from Belvedere but also Arthur Clery (qv), John Marcus O'Sullivan (qv), and Constantine Curran (qv). He graduated BA in 1903 from the RUI, the examining board at the time, and became a teacher in a secondary school at Bray, Co. Wicklow. In 1906 he joined the civil service in the accountant general's office of the high court, then after a couple of years transferred to the chancery chambers of Mr Justice Dunbar Plunket Barton (qv). He was called to the bar in 1910 and practised on the north-eastern circuit.
Sheehy was a member of the Irish Volunteers, and in April 1915, having answered John Redmond's (qv) call for volunteers, was commissioned in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He served in Dublin during the Easter rising and in France with the 1st Battalion from July to November 1916 on the Somme and at Ypres, and was thereafter an intelligence officer with an artillery division. After he was demobilised in January 1919 he resumed his legal career as a barrister, this time joining the Leinster circuit, where, as he stated in his autobiography, ‘there was an abundance of talent . . . and practically no work’ (Sheehy, 62). In the war of independence the courts on circuit were widely boycotted.
At a general meeting of the bar on 21 March 1921 Sheehy seconded a motion which was proposed by T. M. Healy (qv) and passed unanimously, declaring that ‘the privileges of the Bar have been infringed by the actions of certain members of the crown forces in raiding the offices of Mr Noyk, 12 College Green, the solicitor engaged for the defence of certain prisoners who were then awaiting sentence after their trial for murder [in connection with the shooting of military officers on the morning of 21 November 1920] and seizing and carrying away the briefs of counsel who had been engaged in their defence, which briefs contained the instructions for their defence and counsel's notes thereon’.
In June 1922 Sheehy became legal officer to the Irish Free State army, and from June 1923 to January 1925 served as judicial commissioner under the Dáil Éireann Courts (winding-up) Act (1923). In January 1928 he was appointed judge advocate general and in October the same year a judge of the circuit court, an office he held until 1955. Initially his appointment extended to the northern circuit of counties Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, and Monaghan, and after a rearrangement of the circuits in 1937 he was assigned to the north-eastern circuit, consisting of the latter three counties. In 1954 he was appointed chairman of the board of assessors of military pensions under the Military Service Pensions Act, 1934.
Sheehy published a memoir, May it please the court, in 1951. He was keenly interested in golf, racing, and rugby, and was a member of the Bective Rangers club. In 1923 he married Carmel, the daughter of Thomas Neary, of Palmerston Park, Dublin. The couple had two children – David, a member of the Irish bar, who also became a circuit court judge, and Ruth, a nun in the Sacred Heart Order – and lived in Palmerston Road, and in Rathgar and Rathmines. Sheehy died 23 October 1958 in Dublin.