Lives of the fellows

Risteád Mulcahy

b.13 July 1922 d.1 July 2016
MB BS National University of Ireland(1945) MD FRCP(1969)

Risteárd Mulcahy was head of the cardiology department and heart disease research unit at St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin. He was born in Dublin, one of six children of Richard James Mulcahy, an Irish Fine Gael politician and Army general, and Mary Josephine Mulcahy née Ryan (known as Min), the daughter of a farmer. Mulcahy was educated at the Gaelic-speaking Coláiste Mhuire in Dublin and at the age of just 16 began to study medicine at University College Dublin. He qualified in 1945.

He was a resident house surgeon at St Vincent’s and then, in 1946, moved to London, where he worked with Walter Somerville [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, St John’s Wood. He subsequently trained in cardiology at the National Heart Hospital.

In 1950, he returned to Dublin as a junior cardiologist at St Vincent’s. He also set up in private practice in Fitzwilliam Square and was a medical officer to Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross. In 1960, he took over all the cardiology cases at St Vincent’s and set up the coronary care unit in 1966. In 1970, he made the then controversial decision to ban smoking on the cardiac wards at St Vincent’s.

He was president of the Irish Heart Foundation, the Irish Medical Association, the Irish Cardiac Society and the medical section of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland. In the early 1970s he became a member of the working groups on epidemiology and prevention, and of the working groups on rehabilitation, of the European Society of Cardiology and the International Society and Federation of Cardiology. He was a founding member of the Corrigan Club, which aimed to strengthen links between Protestant doctors in Northern Ireland and their Catholic colleagues in the south. He retired in 1988 but continued to work as a consultant at the Charlemont Clinic, Dublin until 2005.

Outside medicine, he cycled, ran and played golf. He represented An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, on the Irish Tree Council, and was a member of the Irish Tree Society and the Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association.

In addition to his books on medicine, he wrote a biography of his father Richard Mulcahy (1886-1971): a family memoir (Dublin, Aurelian Press, 1999) and an autobiography Memoirs of a medical maverick (Liberties Press, 2010).

He was married twice. In 1954, he married Aileen Hanton. They had three sons – Richard, David, Hugh – and three daughters – Tina, Barbara and Lisa. He later married Louise Hederman, a nurse.

RCP editor

[The Irish Times 8 July 2016árd-mulcahy-st-vincent-s-hospital-cardiologist-and-heart-health-campaigner-1.2715551 – accessed 15 November 2018; The Independent 3 July 2016 – accessed 15 November 2018; Irish Medical Times 26 July 2016 – accessed 15 November 2018]

(Volume XII, page web)

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