Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Peter John Gormley (died 8th June 2011)

Former consultant ophthalmologist and otolaryngologist, Mater Hospital Belfast

My father has died aged 90 following a fall at his home on 8th June 2011.
Born in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone in 1920, Peter was the second of six children to James and Hannah Gormley. Thanks to his sharp brain and a wonderful teacher whom he held always in high esteem, he won a scholarship to study at St Patrick’s College, Armagh. Accepted aged 16 in 1936 to Queen’s University Belfast medical school, he attended lectures for ten days before being told he was too young to have been enrolled and was advised to return in a year.

He graduated from Queen’s in July 1944 whereupon he spent the obligatory six months as an intern in the Mater Hospital Belfast as well as working as a GP locum in the environs of the hospital, doing house calls on a bicycle. Having initially intended to become a general practitioner, he was deflected in this aim by his inspirational consultant in ENT and Ophthalmology, (a common speciality at that time) who had an immeasurable impact on his life and was offered the post of honorary clinical assistant  in 1945.

Following a year of work and study in Moorfields Eye Hospital and the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, London, he returned to the Mater where he was appointed consultant in ENT and Opthalmology in 1948, aged 28 years. After completing his general ophthalmic surgical training he worked in the Mater whilst simultaneously running a NHS and private practice from his home which he shared with his devoted wife Doreen and their ten children. A founder member of the Campaign for Social Justice, forerunner of the Civil Rights Association, Peter’s only regret in life was the sectarian murder of his 14 year old son, Rory in 1972.

Revered deservedly for his exceptional bedside manner, he provided Queen’s  medical students with many years of clinical training and charmed everyone he met with his humility, honesty and cordiality.  His dedication as a surgeon led him to  pioneer day case cataract surgery in Northern Ireland in 1964 and his commitment to the Mater Hospital was lifelong. Retired from the NHS in 1987, he continued to see patients at his home until aged 83. As a prolific family photographer all his holidays were spent in his beloved, Bunbeag, Co Donegal.

A meticulous raconteur aided by impeccable powers of recall, he showed commendable courage throughout his final years in the face of progressive ill health. Predeceased by his son and wife, he leaves nine children and seventeen grandchildren.

James Gormley

 

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