Lives of the fellows

John Denis Sheehan

b.18 July 1924 d.1 September 2013
MB BCh BAO NUI(1948) MD(1952) MRCP(1952) BSc(1957) FRCP(1976)

John Denis (‘Jack’) Sheehan was professor of physiology at University College Cork, Ireland. He was born in Cobh, County Cork, the son of Denis Augustine Sheehan, a bank manager. He attended school at Presentation College, Cork, and, on finishing, made the short journey up to the gates of University College Cork. During his time as an undergraduate he was ‘college scholar’ on two occasions, from 1942 to 1943 and from 1945 to 1946. He graduated MB BCh BAO in 1948.

He then went to England. He was a house officer in Wolverhampton, and then at Sefton Hospital in Liverpool. He subsequently moved to Stratford-upon-Avon. In 1953 he took up the position of registrar in Stoke-on-Trent, and in 1954 he was a senior registrar in Nottingham.

During 1955 he was a chest physician in Nkana, in what was then Northern Rhodesia. He returned to Cork in the following year, where he was a lecturer in physiology at University College. From 1957 to 1959 he lectured in pharmacology, and was then appointed to the post of professor of physiology, a position he held until his retirement in 1986. In 1964 he held a Commonwealth Fund travelling fellowship to the USA.

At Cork he embraced new teaching methods, and was particularly known for his use of film and audio media to record physiological experiments. It is a testament to his progressive methods that these recordings are still being used today as teaching aids, some 40 years later. He was a member of the Physiological Society and an active member of the Association for the Study of Medical Education.

Following his retirement, he travelled extensively. He learned to speak fluent French, which had always been an ambition, and loved nothing better than travelling to France for four to six weeks every year. He was an avid rugby supporter, particularly of his beloved Munster team. He was an accomplished mountain climber and regularly climbed in the Alps and Pyrenees, as well as the Irish mountains. He played competitive squash into his late 60s, and was president of Munster Squash Club in 1992. He was somewhat of a master home brewer, and no family occasion was complete without the latest vintage from chateaux Sheehan!

In 1955 he married Mary Kathleen Davies, a nurse at the Royal Hospital Wolverhampton. They had six children – Maire, Deirdre, Fiona, Aine, John and Paul.

John Sheehan

(Volume XII, page web)

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