Lives of the fellows

Finbarr Patrick Bresnihan

b.13 March 1944 d.18 July 2010
MB BCh Dublin(1968) MRCP(1972) MD(1978) FRCPI(1980) FRCP(1985) FRCP Edin(1992)

Finbarr Patrick Bresnihan (known as ‘Barry’) was an outstanding Irish rheumatologist and an international rugby player. Born in Dublin, the son of Cornelius Anthony Bresnihan, a doctor, and Eileen Frances Bresnihan, he was educated at the Jesuit Gonzaga College and qualified in medicine at University College Dublin. Having specialised in rheumatology, he worked at Guy’s, the Medical Research Council’s Taplow unit and the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in Hammersmith. Following a further period at the University of Texas, he returned to St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. There he set up a series of specialists clinics, multidisciplinary teams and linked these with a laboratory at University College Dublin.

He wrote more than 200 specialist papers, 13 chapter-length contributions to specialist works in rheumatology, and two books. His area of expertise was the molecular basis of joint inflammation. His lifetime achievements in rheumatology were recognised by University College Dublin through the creation of a special chair in rheumatology. Internationally, he was awarded the title ‘master’ by the American College of Rheumatology. He also held visiting professorships at the Pasteur Institute in Paris and the University of Geneva. In 2009, he was given a lifetime achievement award by the Irish Society for Rheumatology.

However, he was even more famous on the rugby field, being capped no less than 25 times for Ireland between 1966 and 1971. He also played for both the Lions and the Barbarians.

In addition to an outstanding career as a world class rheumatologist and international rugby player, his ability to entertain through his singing of traditional Irish ballads was greatly appreciated. He is survived by his wife, Valerie, son (Rory) and three daughters (Niamh, Ciara and Lia).

Paul Darragh

[The Irish Times 20 July 2010 – accessed 7 January 2011; The Telegraph 26 July 2010 – accessed 7 January 2011; The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh – accessed 7 January 2011]

(Volume XII, page web)

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