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Byron Shire
March 27, 2023

A tribute for Richard Moloney

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Local solicitor, Richard Moloney. Photo supplied

Byron Shire has lost another of its colourful characters, the irrepressible Richard Moloney, who died suddenly but peacefully in his home at the end of January.

He was aged 71.

Still practising as a solicitor despite a stroke 15 years ago, Richard will be remembered not only for his advocacy and achievements in court, but as a phenomenal contributor to the community.

Of Welsh and Irish descent, Richard was born in Adelaide in 1951 to parents John and Lindsey Moloney.

Richard’s father, a Captain of the Third Battalion during the Korean War, undoubtedly influenced Richard’s commitment to social justice. John (Paddy) Moloney fought alongside Indigenous soldiers in the taking of Maryang.

He later became a powerful supporter of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, providing a year-long tenancy at his residence in Canberra to half the Aboriginal tent embassy after the government demolished the original tent embassy.

Richard’s mother, Lindsey, was an accomplished artist. Roger, his brother in Melbourne, inherited her talent.

Before committing himself to law, Richard was preparing to be a scientist. He was later to give much of his time in volunteer talks on science at the Byron Community School in Butler Street. His dedication to the young included the zebra road safety campaign, which raised money for the school’s future science projects as well as The Buttery.

Admitted as a solicitor in both NSW and the ACT in 1975, he moved to Byron Shire in 1981.

Commitment to social justice

His commitment to social justice and his fight against prejudice was shown in his success in overturning the conviction of AIDS sufferer, Leiff Falconer, who was fined $500 for possessing marijuana in 1991.

This was a significant fine at the time. He was a proud member of The Phantom Club, and lived up to the Sacred Oath ‘to fight on the side of the weak against the oppressor – with good against evil, and to do everything in my power to destroy greed, cruelty and injustice, wherever it exists…’

Richard took his legal responsibilities very seriously, but he could be outrageously eccentric and irreverent.

He never bothered ironing his shirts.

Richard bucked stuffy conventions with humour.

A sign at the door to his business read, ‘mind the step, no jumping!’ His services were advertised playfully: ‘From murder to mayhem, from property to piracy… we’re here to help’.

In 1995, Richard married Fiona Brophy, on a surfboard, in Byron Bay. The marriage was celebrated by local identity, Zenith Virago, who waded out to join them.

Richard was passionate about swimming from Wategos to The Pass on a regular basis, just to relax.

He was also a great motorbike enthusiast, roaring around the place with his black open-face helmet, grinning happily. A formidable chess player, Echo co-founder, David Lovejoy, occasionally took part in tournaments organised by Richard.

Richard was an excellent cook, loved French cuisine, and possessed a cassoulet.

He was known to come to your house and cook a meal there. He also loved informality, bringing a cheese platter and wine to visit his neighbours, on utterly random occasions.

Motorcycle enthusiast neighbours and mates would meet at the coffee shop over the road. Senior women in Byron were treated to dainty high teas after a game of ‘croquet bastardy.’ Richard was fabled for such generosity, with his time as well as repast.


A bibliophile, Richard was often seen trawling the local bookshops in town and Mullumbimby. He was a prodigious reader, his home groaning under the overflowing volumes.

Always very keen to lend his books, he was just as keen to discuss them. His tastes were eclectic.

Much of his extensive collection will come to circulate in the community, via its street libraries. He would appreciate this bibliographical legacy.

Richard’s reading provided him with much material for his famous trivia night quizzes, and he was known as the ‘Trivia King.’

[Question:- what did Florence Nightingale carry in her pocket before journeying to the Crimean War? Answer: An owlet, which she rescued in Athens and named Athena. (Sadly, it died from neglect after she left)]

Richard is survived by his current partner, Margot Sutton, a retired journalist from Canberra, as well as Fiona.

Zenith will be conducting a public farewell to be held this coming Saturday, February 11 at 3.30pm at the Ewingsdale Community Hall.

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  1. I knew Richard years ago. What’s really sad about his passing is that he was one of those rare people who restores your faith in humanity. And don’t we need aspecial people like that these days. Anyway, at least he will be playing chess with the best. Vale Richard Moloney.

  2. RIP Mr Maloney. The man who used to swiftly walk down Jonson St with his tie flapping in the wind over his shoulder and his little dog at his feet dragging the lead on the footpath.

    He was the best Quiz Master comparing Trivia nights for BAY FM in the early days of the station’s fundraising activities. He’d write real challenging questions trying to trip up the Echo team!

    He was also good for intellectually stimulating conversations which were often hard to find in those days!

    He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

  3. Richard also has a younger sister named Lucy Moloney and a step mother named Cynthia both of whom he adored. Most of my memories of him make me smile and are not fit for public sharing. I’ll miss you Richard. Thanks for the olives, the unsolicited advice and the laughter.


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