Author(s): Damien Freeman
Roddy Meagher's legacy as barrister, scholar, wit, and aesthete is legendary. When he retired from the NSW Court of Appeal, the Chief Justice, Jim Spigelman, praised him as "the widely loved judge of his time" and "one of the intellectual giants of our legal history". Yet Aboriginal magistrate, Pat O'Shane, claims to "know nothing good about him" and threatened to refer him to the Judicial Commission for a lifetime of "sexist, racist and homophobic" statements. Freeman's biography is the first book-length study of the life and work of R. P. Meagher QC. It considers his relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, the University of Sydney, the Australian Bar, and the tradition of legal scholarship to which he made a monumental contribution. In doing so, Freeman tries to get inside the mind of the man, and offers an analysis of Meagher's attitude to feminism and political correctness, as well as his place in Sydney's bohemian and establishment circles. This discussion is set within an account of his marriage to the painter, Penny Meagher, and the central place of art in their life together: for her as artist; for him as art collector.
Roddy's Folly draws on Meagher's personal papers, to which Freeman had unrestricted access, as well as interviews with such eminent Australians as Sir Laurence Street, Murray Gleeson, Jim Spigelman, Dyson Heydon, Cardinal Pell, Pierre Ryckmans, Marie Bashir, Edmund Capon, Glenn Murcutt, David Handley, Michael Kirby and John Howard.