John A. Sinnott & Co. Solicitors was established in Abbey Square in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1865 by John A. Sinnott. Then, the business formed the foundations for legal practice in the town and now, 150 years later, the firm has an accomplished reputation and an avid following of loyal clients throughout the County, the country and overseas.
John A. Sinnott
John A. Sinnott was son of renowned business man Nicholas Sinnott who operated the corn stores in Enniscorthy and it was from there that the first coach to Wexford was started. He was somewhat of a favourite with the public during his court appearances and was characterised by his geniality, wit and humour. His court appearances weren’t too frequent, however, as he wasn’t always willing to rush his clients to court, except where there was a reasonable chance of success. He, therefore, became known as “The Peace-Making Lawyer”.
Little did John A. Sinnott realise that this ‘peace-making’ ethos would become his legacy. With only 4 successors in the 150 year history of his business; problem-solving, sensible advice and an avoidance of litigation where possible, came to characterise the business and is still a major factor of its success today. None of his successors have ever used their own name over the door out of respect for the Enniscorthy man and his business that were both so genuinely revered in Enniscorthy and this has made for good business continuity throughout the years.
Ill health began to take its toll on Mr. Sinnott in 1905. His sister, Mary Elizabeth Sinnott had moved to Mountjoy Square, Dublin when she married William Scallan who was also a solicitor. Their son, John Nicholas Scallan qualified as a solicitor and became the obvious choice to take the helm of the Enniscorthy practice.
John N. Scallan
Newly qualified, John Scallan was just 23 when he took over his uncle’s business in 1905, unaware then that he would face some of the most interesting and challenging years of the firm’s history. Such a challenging period was in 1916 during the Easter Rising. The Rebels took over the town and John A. Sinnott case files show that Commandeering Notices were issued to local businesses at that time. These local businesses turned to John Scallan at John A. Sinnott & Co. in an effort to retrieve the value of the stock that was commandeered. In letters from John Scallan to his solicitor father and to his uncle Frank Scallan who was also a solicitor, he refers to these events as “Disturbances in the town.” In what must have been frightening and unchartered times, files show how the situation was handled with courage, poise and relentlessness on behalf of the local businesses of Enniscorthy.
John J. Bolger
In the early 1920’s, the firm was taken over by a man who would become renowned as one of the most respected, trusted and admired professionals in the town’s history. John J. Bolger was a brilliant student and qualified as a solicitor in 1919. He received a special award for “distinguished answering” in his final exams. His forward-thinking, that is still evident in the firm today, quickly built the reputation of John A. Sinnott & Co. beyond Enniscorthy. As a member of the Council of the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland, he was elected Vice-President of the society in 1947. He was also a director of Bolger Stores Ltd., located in all major cities across the country and where his brother Patrick A. Bolger was Managing Director. By now, the firm had relocated to a premises on Rafter Street.
His involvement in various associations was vast. To name but a few, he was President of the Dublin branch of the Hospitalite of Our Lady of Lourdes, Joint-Treasurer of Enniscorthy St. Vincent de Paul Society, Chairman of Enniscorthy Parish Council and he was also responsible for setting up the Local Security Force in Enniscorthy during ‘The Emergency’ years of 1940 to 1945 of which he became District Leader.
John J. Bolger died at the age of 56. His obituary described him as “having a clear brain and an ability to get quickly to the fundamentals of a problem.” Again, these are qualities that were instilled into the business and uncovering the fundamentals of the problem and anticipating outcomes are still recognised as a priority by the team today.
In 1948, some years before the death of John J. Bolger, Galway man Desmond McEvoy became Principal Solicitor at John A. Sinnott & Co. Solicitors. He had been working with the firm for 2 years, which was his first job since qualifying. What Des McEvoy lacked in experience, he made up for in drive and ambition. It was this determination that brought the business to the next level and transformed it into one of the largest law practices in the South East. In fact, at that time, the business was often referred to as ‘a small industry.’
He was greatly respected for his knowledge and expertise as a top-class professional by many in Enniscorthy and beyond, not least by the members of Enniscorthy Urban District Council and Wexford County Council for whom he was legal advisor for more than 30 years. But there was another side to his character that earned him just as much respect – he had a great love for those less well-off, underprivileged, sick and infirm. He gave generously of his time and financially to help others and his care and courteousness is still spoken about in the town.
When Des McEvoy died at the age of 61 in November 1985, flags on public buildings throughout the county flew at half-mast for 3 days in a tribute to his outstanding contribution to law and charity.
John G. Murphy
Now, 150 years later, the firm is under the stewardship of John G. Murphy and is located in the iconic building at the corner of Weafer St. and Rafter St. in Market Square. John, like his predecessor, also hails from Galway and he moved to Wexford and began working with John A. Sinnott & Co. in 1980. He is acutely aware of the core values of his predecessors that are inherent in the business and that have made it the successful enterprise it is today. His vision for the business is to continue to progress it to meet the demands of a dynamic market using modern technologies and systems but all the while remaining true to the company’s core values and respectful of its remarkable history.
Indeed, his fresh approach and forward-thinking have earned the business ISO accreditation since 1996, a place on the shortlist at the Irish Law Awards on 4 occasions, a gold Quality Legal Standard for its systems and a national and international client base extending far beyond Wexford – particularly Dublin.
John’s ability to recognise and adapt the remarkable qualities of his 4 predecessors have contributed in no small part to this success. John A. Sinnott – peace-making; John N. Scallan – relentless and dignified; John J. Bolger- forward thinking, able to establish the fundamentals of a problem and anticipate outcomes; Des McEvoy – knowledgeable, dynamic, courteous and charitable. These are all attributes that have formed the cornerstones of John A. Sinnott & Co. over the years and that are still vital to the success of today’s business.
John G. Murphy brings his own qualities to the business – relatable, charismatic, and an ability to simplify complex situations through his story-telling.
These collective qualities, together with the loyalty of clients and the energy of the present team to lead the way, set standards and improve are driving the business forward today.