Inquest jury gives verdict on Dublin surgeon’s drowning

Death of leading cancer specialist Aongus Curran on Lough Corrib is ruled misadventure

Prof Aongus Curran’s widow described her husband (above) as a wonderful father and husband who “adored life ... he lived life to the full” and loved nothing more than being out on the lake

Prof Aongus Curran’s widow described her husband (above) as a wonderful father and husband who “adored life ... he lived life to the full” and loved nothing more than being out on the lake

 

A verdict of drowning by misadventure has been returned at an inquest into the death of leading Dublin cancer surgeon Prof Aongus Curran.

The inquest in Galway heard that father of five Prof Curran (51) of Galvia, Westminster Road, Foxrock, had sustained stab wounds to the chest but that these did not contribute to his death.

It also heard he had not worn a life jacket when he took the family boat out on to Lough Corrib at Oughterard – where he grew up – on the morning of August 12th last year.

Hours later a search was launched when the unoccupied boat was found adrift near Inishanbo Island, a few kilometres away. The doctor’s body was found the following afternoon near Camillaun Island another few kilometres north of where the 18ft boat was discovered.

Deputy State Pathologist Professor Michael Curtis concluded that the cause of death was drowning but noted that he had sustained three stab wounds to the chest, two of them superficial and may have been self-inflicted. However, these did not contribute to his death.

On rising later, she assumed he had gone for a walk or taken the boat out, which was normal as he was an early riser and loved the outdoors and nature

He had also sustained bruises and abrasions consistent with the trauma of the body being in contact with rocks while in the water.

Good spirits

Noreen Curran, his widow, tearfully told the inquest they had enjoyed a lovely family meal cooked by her husband and his mother at his family home the previous evening. She said he had been in good spirits and had been about to start a family break in Connemara.

She was the last person to see him the following morning when he got up at 9.30am to have a cup of tea. On rising later, she assumed he had gone for a walk or taken the boat out, which was normal as he was an early riser and loved the outdoors and nature.

The hearing was told there had been strong winds that day, that the water was choppy and there was poor visibility

She described her husband as a wonderful father and husband who “adored life . . . he lived life to the full” and loved nothing more than being out on the lake.

It was also normal for them to go out on the lake without life jackets as her husband had been reared on the shores of Lough Corrib.

The hearing was told there had been strong winds that day, that the water was choppy and there was poor visibility but despite that family members continued searching late into the night.

There was further evidence that both hand and typewritten notes had been found on Prof Curran but their content was not revealed at the inquest.

Tragic accident

Brendan Grehan, SC for the family, said the Currans believed in their “heart of hearts” that it had been a tragic accident.

In addressing the jury of seven, Ciarán MacLoughlin, the Galway West coroner, said there was no evidence that he had taken his own life and advised them to return a verdict of either accidental drowning, misadventure or an open verdict.

They returned a verdict of drowning by misadventure in accordance with the medical evidence.

A graduate of NUI Galway, Prof Curran was a leading head and neck oncology surgeon. He was an ENT consultant at St Vincent’s hospital and the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin and was professor of otorhinolaryngology at UCD. He was also connected to St James’s Hospital and to the National Children’s Hospital. Earlier in his career, he practised medicine in Toronto.