Lives of the fellows

John Nash

b.25 June 1912 d.5 April 2002
BA hons Dublin MSc MB BCh BAO MD MRCP(1948) FRCP(1974)

John Nash was appointed medical superintendent at Limerick Regional Hospital when it first opened in 1956. He held this post and carried it out with distinction until his retirement in 1977.

His initial training was as a scientist and he graduated with an honours degree in natural sciences from Trinity College Dublin in the 1930s. He was rewarded with a college scholarship, a distinction that was emulated by both his son and grandson, making them the only three generations to achieve this. His postgraduate research studies as a scientist involved the use of radon. He quickly switched his interest to medicine. During his time at Trinity he represented the college at rugby, squash and tennis.

His early years as a doctor were spent in London at the time of the Blitz. He later stated that his organisational and administrative abilities derived from those years when he was frequently the only resident medical officer at the hospital, dealing with large numbers of casualties.

After the war he joined the RAMC and spent two years in Ghana. On leaving Ghana he had so impressed the chiefs of the area where he was working that he was offered the concession of the hardwood from the forest there. In typical fashion he refused this.

He then returned to London, carrying out research, mainly into cardiology and diabetes, before being appointed medical superintendent at Limerick Regional Hospital. He carried on his interest in cardiology and diabetes, setting up one of the first coronary care units in Ireland. In addition he had what was then only the second dedicated diabetic out-patient clinic.

He continued working for approximately five years after his official retirement age of 65, but to state that his interests were confined to medicine would be utterly wrong. When he was no longer able to participate in sport he developed an interest in building violins and later set up a school in Limerick to teach other people how to make them. The particular instruments he built are now being played in leading orchestras throughout the world. He continued this interest in his retirement: his book on violin making is still being sold over the Internet. He continued his pursuit of learning right up to the year before he died, when failing health meant he was unable to continue. This frustration greatly upset him.

Always a man of decision, action and principle, one of his most frequent saying was that "It is easier to take pills than advice", but the latter is much more valuable.

A man about whom it was frequently said, "did not suffer fools gladly", he could always be relied on to be straight and direct in his dealings with patients, nurses and medical colleagues alike. His colleagues and subordinates valued his integrity, frequently saying that he was "too honest". What a wonderful thing to say about an extraordinary man whose mark on Limerick Regional Hospital will continue for many years ahead.

T H Peirce

(Volume XI, page 414)

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