Pioneering doctor with a dapper touch is given posthumous tribute by board


He wore waistcoats and a pocket watch, drove a sports car and is credited with delivering the Duchess of York's mother. The doctor who gave University College Hospital, Galway (UCHG) its name has been paid a posthumous tribute by the Western Health Board.

Remembered for his "tremendous zeal", and his distinctive aftershave, Prof Fergus P. Meehan died suddenly in 1991 at the age of 55. He had been with the Western Health Board (WHB) since 1972, having worked previously at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. Last Thursday the WHB dedicated its maternity unit board room at UCHG to his memory.

Prof Meehan was educated at St Flannan's College in Ennis, Co Clare, and at University College Dublin. It was when he was in Oxford that he delivered Mrs Susan Ferguson (Barrantes), whose daughter, Sarah, became Duchess of York.

He was regarded as a workaholic when assigned to the WHB's obstetrical and gynaecological unit. He instigated the move to change the name of the institution from Regional Hospital, Galway, to UCHG.

His sports car was well known, as it carried a distinctive registration - 1 GIM. This came to be known as "one God, one Meehan". He is said to have taken a great pride in his grooming - hence the waistcoats - and he was also a prolific writer of medical papers. In a tribute to him written by the medical class of 1990, he is remembered for being "mostly cheerful" and a "flamboyant figure, striding along the corridors" with jacket "worn over bright blue surgical scrubs".

"Who will forget those powerful lectures studded with anecdotes so humorously told as he walked up and down between the rows of seats in the large lecture theatre, all the while the strong smell of aftershave wafting its way around the room," the appreciation says.

Prof Meehan's publications focused on vaginal delivery after Caesarean section and caudal analgesia. His sub-speciality was infertility. He introduced the gamma intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) technique to UCHG, and had been developing plans for IVF at the time of his death.

Prof Meehan's widow, Ann, is a mother of five and also a doctor. She is registrar at the hospital's accident and emergency department.