Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mike Kerruish

Mike Kerruish

Mike was married to my sister, Marianne, and I have known him most of my adult life, from the Dogs Home onwards, and he has been a brother, friend, support and comfort to me for nearly forty years.

If you knew Mike, you will appreciate what I am going to try to say over the next few lines...

Mike achieved what he did by dint of hard work, thoroughness, and a brilliant mind. Unlike most of his contemporaries his launch pad to the heights he reached was humble Demesne Road School, and then Douglas High School. Apart from being a founder member of Vagabonds Rugby Club - known as the Working Mens Rugby Club, the only clubs he ever joined were Laxey Football Club and Laxey Sailing Club, neither renowned for their career-boosting effects.

His hard work was legendary, and he built up a single man practice, Simcocks, into a major law firm in the Island. And if you know him, you will appreciate that most of his success was based on his warm personality and his ability to get on with everyone.

He took considerable pay cuts to leave private practice and work for the Crown, first as Attorney General and later as Deemster. As Attorney General, he was one of a small number of people who worked hard with the UK and international jurisdictions to put the Isle of Man on higher footing and that small team helped lay the foundations for the financial prosperity we have enjoyed in recent years.

Mike was a humane and kindly person, but meticulous in his dealings with the law, and I know that some of the decisions he had to make as Deemster were personally very difficult for him.

He was a considerate and funny man, always looking for the humour in any situation, and sometimes joining us in surreal flights of fancy. There was never an hour in his company which was not rewarding, and his 'roaring Manx laugh' rarely stopped.

On many occasions I have been with him in a pub, where we have met characters from our pasts, sometimes people with substantial criminal records - people I had arrested or he had defended, or sent down - sometimes they were schoolfriends of Mike whose lives had been less than successful - and he spoke to them all with genuine interest and courtesy and shared stories and jokes and a few pints with them. In recent years, after each Tynwald ceremony, with Mike still fully gaitered, buckled and bloused in his Deemster's regalia, as soon as the ceremony is over, he takes me straight to the Tynwald pub for a few pints. And not the lounge bar, but in with the locals. Like the true Manxman he was, he would talk to any bugger....

Some larger than life people are 'hail fellow, well met' types, looking over their shoulder for the next important people to speak to when they are tired of you, but not Mike, he listened and was genuinely interested in the people he was with and eased conversations with his humour.

He never changed, always remembered where he came from and had no pretensions at all.

Although I am biased, I think Mike was one of the greatest Manxmen of his generation. It has been very gratifying this week to hear many other people say the same thing.

His death at the age of just 61 is a huge loss to Marianne, Daniel and Summer and all of us in the family but also a loss to everyone who loves the Isle of Man and who knew Mike.

Rest in Peace Mike.

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