Development & Alumni Relations Office 


William George Irwin, MD, DRCOG, FRCGP, MICGP (died 21 September 2018, aged 93)

Full obituary available online at

William George Irwin, born in Belfast in 1924, was an only child whose family home and father’s shirt factory were destroyed in the 1941 Blitz. George had previously won a scholarship to the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI) and continued to travel to RBAI by bus after being evacuated to a farm in Greyabbey. He became vice head of school, captained RBAI’s 1st XI cricket team and the Ulster School’s Cricket XI, and played in the rugby team that won the 1943 Ulster Schools Cup.

George gained a scholarship to study medicine at Queen’s University Belfast where he also continued to excel in cricket and rugby.  George graduated in 1948 before completing postgraduate training in obstetrics. He went on to marry Nurse Arlene McKeown and in 1952 became a GP in Belfast as well as assisting with obstetric emergencies in the local maternity hospital.

Throughout his career he worked extensively in teaching, research, and service development with other disciplines, health services organisations and bodies. He made many valuable contributions to healthcare services, including involvement in the opening of Finaghy and Dunluce Health Centres.

In 1966 he began a part-time lectureship in Queen’s department of social and preventive medicine, and gained his MD in 1969. He obtained his FRCGP in 1972, fellowship of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland in 1985, MICGP in 1987, and received an OBE in 1991, for his services to general practice.

Although retiring in 1992 he continued to do disability living allowance examinations and medicolegal work for several years. He also continued on the Board of RBAI and maintained his lifelong interest in sport, playing golf as a member of Malone and Royal County Down golf clubs until his health gradually deteriorated. He also continued interests in Queen’s Cricket Club, Queen’s Rugby Club, the Queen’s University Association, and Old Instonians.

George is survived by his wife Arlene, and their children Alan, David and Diane.

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