Last week our historic home at No.6 Kildare Street welcomed author Neil J. Brennan as he launched his new book Dusty Boxes: The Life of a County Surgeon in Edwardian Ireland. Neil was joined by Harriet Wheelock of the RCPI Heritage Centre in the Dun’s Library with President Prof Mary Horgan hosting the event. Prof Muiris Fitzgerald introduced the book to those gathered to celebrate its launch.
In the book the author describes his personal search for information about the life of his maternal grandfather, Neil John Blayney, a County Surgeon and Physician, who died in 1919.
Beginning with his grandfather’s childhood in Cushendall and Belfast, the story describes his time as a medical student in Cecilia Street Medical School and the Mater Hospital, and his exploits on as part of Bohemians Football Club in the 1890s.
Newly qualified Dr Blayney took a trip as ship’s doctor to South America and shortly afterwards was appointed in controversial circumstances as Physician and Surgeon to Maryborough Infirmary. As well as addressing the details of running of the Infirmary Dr Blayney took an active role in the very early days of sanatorium treatment for Tuberculosis
The book also details the social milieu of his life in Maryborough (now Portlaoise), his involvement in local and national political developments leading up to Home Rule, his reaction to the outbreak of War, and his marriage which was cut short by his death at the height of the influenza epidemic in early 1919.
Dusty Boxes: The Life of a County Surgeon in Edwardian Ireland (publisher) is available now.
Harriet is Keeper of Collection and manages the RCPI Heritage Centre. Contact Harriet with any questions about the Heritage Centre, its collection and to make an appointment to visit.