The firm of Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors has been in existence in the town of Killarney, Co. Kerry for over 180 years and is reputed to be one of the longest established firms in the country. Certainly, the age of some of the dusty texts in our boardroom bears witness to this fact. Its founding father, Francis Henry Downing (1809 – 1893) was admitted as an Attorney in the year 1832 and he set up a practice in Killarney. Three of his sons Francis Creagh Downing (1832 – 1918), Eugene Downing (1842 – 1879) & Phillip Downing (1850 – 1915) all qualified as solicitors in the years 1860, 1865 & 1875 respectively. The first of these sons Francis Creagh Downing practiced for a brief period in Killarney before establishing his own practice in Tralee. He was also Clerk of the Crown and Peace for Kerry from 1900 to 1918. His brothers, Eugene and Phillip however, continued to base themselves as solicitors in Killarney. Eugene Joseph also enjoyed the notable position of being the Crown Solicitor for Kerry for some years prior to 1921. Francis Creagh Downing had three sons, Francis Henry (1864 – 1931), Eugene Joseph (1865 -1944) and Charles Francis (1868 – 1918), all of whom became solicitors, Francis qualifying in 1886 and Eugene and Charles qualifying in 1892. Francis and Charles chose Tralee as their professional base and practiced there under the style of F & C. Downing while Eugene continued the practice in Killarney.
Charles Francis Downing's sons Charles James and Henry Joseph qualified in the years 1922 and 1929 respectively and Charles became principal in the office of F & C Downing. Henry practiced in Killarney under the style of Eugene Downing & Company, latterly with his son Creagh, until Creagh's untimely death in October 1970. Henry practiced until his death in March 1974.
Charles Downing and Joseph J Grace practiced in Tralee until Charles' death in 1964 and thereafter Henry Downing, Joseph Grace and Creagh Downing entered into partnership. The office of Donal J. Courtney was incorporated into the firm in 1971 and the practice name changed to Downing, Grace and Courtney.
Michael C. Larkin was apprenticed to Joseph Grace in F and C Downing in Tralee, qualified as a solicitor in 1970, and joined the newly formed firm of Downing Grace and Courtney in 1971 as an assistant solicitor. He was admitted into the partnership in 1974 and became principal in January 1990.
Michael was joined in the practice by his children, Lorna, on her qualification in 2004 and Coman on his qualification in 2009. Both were admitted into the partnership in 2012. By choosing to follow Michael into the legal profession, they are preserving the familial legal tradition initiated by the Downings so many years previously. Time will tell if future generations continue the tradition.
In 1982, the title of the firm changed to Downing Courtney and Larkin, a name synonymous with professionalism and continuity of service far beyond Killarney and County Kerry.