TRIBUTES have been paid to a Tyrone barrister who started from humble beginnings and made his way to the top of the legal field.
Billy McCrory KC was born in Gallows Hill, Omagh in 1952, to Paddy and Lilly McRory.
He was the eldest of four siblings Caroline, Patrick and the late Tony.
Billy excelled at school and was described by former classmates at Omagh CBS primary and grammar schools as being ‘exceptionally bright’.
During his time as a student, Billy was an accomplished member of the school’s debate club and won the prestigious Irish Times ‘Best Debater’ title.
Billy became the first person from his family to attend university, travelling to Belfast to study law at Queen’s.
During his university days, he continued his distinguished debating career, even debating famous comedian, Frank Carson in front of a crowd of hundreds, defeating the once highest-paid comedian in the world with ease.
Upon graduating, Billy became a criminal defence lawyer and in 1997 took silks becoming a Queen’s Council.
He became an incredibly respected member of the legal profession and worked on several high profile cases during his successful career.
One of Billy’s classmates at Omagh CBS and a fellow Queen’s law graduate, Fintona solicitor Andrew Montague, said that Billy had a “tremendous legal mind” and was a “fantastic orator.”
Mr Montague said, “Billy and I became friends in the late 1950s and remained close all our lives.
“Billy was a great person with a great sense of humour and he had a fantastic legal mind.
“He was a champion debater and his grasp of the English language was exceptional. He had an amazing vocabulary and won trials with excellent oratory skills alone.
“Billy was thought of very highly by everyone in the local legal profession and became one of the top defence barristers in the country.”
Billy and his late wife, Laura resided at Cullenfad Road, Castlecaulfield.
Outside of law, he had a huge array of interests.
Billy was a keen dramatist and acted and directed plays with the Kileeshil Players and other amateur dramatic societies. He had a love of poetry and would often go and see his favourite poets in recitals.
Billy was also a massive boxing fan and a member of the Boxing Board of Control where he was an official who often assessed referees and judges.
He was also a boxer in his youth and fought for the Omagh Boy’s Club.
He would often travel across Ireland and further afield to attend fights. He was a fan of great local fighters like Barry McGuigan and Belfast world champion, Carl Frampton.
A friend of Billy’s through his love of boxing was Fivemiletown businessman and owner of the Valley Hotel, John Williamson MBE, who is currently the Chairman of the British Boxing Board of Control.
Mr Williamson said that Billy was a great asset to the organisation and a tremendous friend who “told great stories about boxing and life.”
Mr Williamson stated, “I knew Billy for over 40 years we travelled to fights all over Ireland and the UK together. He had a tremendous knowledge of boxing and loved it. Billy had followed the sport closely from the early 1960s and boxed in his younger days in Omagh. He was a great asset to the British Boxing Board of Control and gave his much-needed knowledge and advice freely on many matters over the years.
“Billy was also a great friend and a fun person to be around.
“I know he will be very sadly missed by everyone in the boxing community.”
Billy was also a loving family man, and is pre-deceased by his wife, Laura who sadly passed away less than six months ago.
Billy is the dear father of Conor, Eithne, Eimear and the late baby Francis, adored grandfather of Edie-Grace and Clodagh.
His funeral took place last weekend at the Church of the Assumption, Tullyallen. Interment was afterwards in St Patrick’s Cemetery, Carland Road, Dungannon.
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