Silent Years: An Autobiography with Memoirs of James Joyce and Our Ireland

By J. F. Byrne | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
"Prodigal Medical Stew-Gents"

EARLY IN 1902, Father Darlington was made Dean of the Medical School, and in March of that year I organised the first handball tournament for college students, including the students of the Medical School. This meant my making many visits to the Medical School to confer with some of the students, especially O'Connell Sullivan who was secretary to the Registrar; and to solicit the support, cooperation, and financial assistance of the professors to many of whom I thus became well known.

These professors included Ambrose Birmingham, Registrar of the Medical School, and co-author of Cunningham's famous text book on anatomy. "Ambie" Birmingham was a brilliant man and a great educationalist. When making his anatomical sketches on the blackboard, veins were done in blue chalk, and arteries in red; sometimes the chalks got mixed, and it was amusing to a newcomer to the class to see Ambie hold up a stick of chalk and hear him ask, "What color is this?" Ambie was color-blind.

Another I came to know well, and to like, was Denis J. Coffey, professor of Physiology, and afterwards first President of the National University. Coffey always smoked his cigarette by taking about three puffs and throwing it away. Then there was Johnny McArdle, who had achieved, somehow or other, a far-flung reputation as a surgeon, and who looked like a he-man but talked in a squeak. On the side, Johnny was a petty lothario, and he spent a lot of money in the ownership of a few nags that almost always helped to swell the ranks of the "also rans." And then there was E. J. McWeeney, the distinguished pathologist who, because he

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