Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Tos Quinn / Dr. O'Neill's medical practice

The relentless march of time each day brings changes to our lives. Some for the better which are welcomed but there are also many unwelcomed events which leave us saddened. I have just come away from St. Michael’s cemetery where for the second time in a week I have attended the funeral of a friend. My friend and colleague, Tos Quinn, died suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday morning and with his passing Solicitor colleagues have lost a man who practiced law in the best traditions of the Irish legal profession. On the day of his death I spoke of his qualities as a person and as a Solicitor and how his passing had caused widespread regret amongst his Solicitor colleagues and members of the Bar. ‘Tos’s courteous manner made him one of the most popular Solicitors in the county, but his was not a popularity which prevented him from fearlessly pursuing his clients’ best interests. He pursued the justice of his clients’ cases with vigour, but at all times with honesty and without any hint of deception. His integrity was acknowledged by all of his colleagues.’ The legal profession and the medical profession have in recent times found themselves on opposing sides in the Courts of Justice. Not a week goes by without media coverage of a medical negligence case. The practice of medicine has become a minefield for litigation, but despite this local communities have come to expect, even demand, fairly comprehensive legal and medical services at local level. Looking back over press reports of the mid-19th century it appears that local doctors, but apparently not local Solicitors, then had the time and leisure to get involved in local politics and indeed membership of the local town commissioners. One such doctor was P.L. O’Neill of Geraldine House and it is remarkable to reflect that his great grandson, Dr. Giles O’Neill, is the fourth generation of the O’Neill medical family to provide a G.P. service in Athy. Dr. P.L. was followed by his son Dr. Jeremiah whom I believe practiced for a while out of Geraldine House before transferring to that part of the Abbey off Emily Square subsequently occupied by the late Barry Donnelly Solicitor. It was there that Joe O’Neill was born and when he qualified as a doctor he practiced and lived for some years in the house on the other side of the Abbey before moving to Athy Lodge on Church Road. In my young days I recall Dr. John Kilbride who had succeeded his father Dr. James Kilbride and who practiced from Athy Lodge. Athy Lodge had once been home to local Solicitor John Lord and his family before they emigrated to Canada in the latter part of the 19th century. Dr. Joe O’Neill who graduated in 1943 took over Dr. John Kilbride’s medical practice in 1959 and lived and worked in Athy Lodge until he retired in 1991. I remember Dr. Joe with great fondness and immense gratitude for he saved my son’s life with a speedy prognosis of a burst appendix and a swift despatch to a Dublin hospital where his young life was saved. Dr. Joe also diagnosed, luckily at an early stage in my case, the need for an appendix operation which I had in Naas Hospital under the care of surgeon Gibson. Dr. Giles O’Neill graduated in 1975 and after practising in Dublin and England returned to join his father’s practice in 1981. The following year a new surgery was built on the grounds of Athy Lodge where Dr. Joe and Dr. Giles practiced and where in recent years Dr. Giles has been joined bv Doctor Raymond Rowan. The medical practice at Church Road closed its doors for the last time on Friday last and transferred to premises on the Carlow Road which were first occupied some years ago by Dr. John Macdougald. There the medical team of Dr. Giles O’Neill and Dr. Raymond Rowan will be joined by Dr. Anthony Reeves who until now has practiced on his own account at Convent Lane next to the Town Library. When I look back over the past 39 years during which time Tos Quinn and myself shared the same Court bench in the local Courthouse sitting side by side immediately behind the prosecuting team I can’t but recall the men and women of the local legal and medical professions. All of them with varied attainments, but amongst them stand out as Solicitors the late Tos Quinn, Cyril Osborne and Barry Donnelly and medical practitioners Dr. Joe O’Neill, Dr. Brian Maguire and the recently retired Dr. John Macdougald, all men who displayed the finest qualities of those two ancient professions while working amongst the local community here in Athy.

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