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Biographical entry McCarthy, Jeremiah (1836 - 1924)

MRCS May 10th 1866; FRCS June 19th 1873; MA Trinity College Dublin 1868; MB Lond 1868; LSA 1867.

General surgeon and Physiologist


Born in Dublin, and traced his descent from the McCarthys, Kings of Kenmare. From a private day school he entered Trinity College in 1854 as a rough inconspicuous young Irishman. In 1855 he became Classical Master at the Royal School of Dungannon, where he had the future Lord Justice Collins among his pupils. Subsequently he won a scholarship and was able to graduate MA in 1863. In 1865 he entered as a student at the London Hospital and there gained a University Scholarship and a Gold Medal for Chemistry. In 1868 he was Resident House Surgeon at the Sea-Bathing Hospital, Margate; in 1869 House Surgeon at the London Hospital. Then followed his election as Assistant Surgeon, and for years he was Lecturer on Physiology, subsequently on Surgery.

Early in his time at the hospital there occurred a cholera epidemic, and for his important work he received a vote of thanks with an honorarium from the Governors. In spite of roughness of manner to nurses and patients, and of sarcastic remarks to students, he was a popular teacher in the out-patient room and later in the wards. He appears to have been the original of the story that when one of his class, usually dumb, answered correctly, the lecturer raised his eyebrows sardonically and looked pointedly at him. "You seem surprised, sir," said the man. "So was Balaam on a similar occasion," was the immediate retort. At the College of Surgeons he served on the Board of Examiners in Anatomy and Physiology from 1880-1883, and as an Examiner in Physiology for the Fellowship from 1885-1889. From 1889-1899 he was a Member of the Court of Examiners, and from 1895 of the Board of Dental Examiners.

Unfortunately, the slow onset of locomotor ataxia had advanced so far as to compel his resignation of the post of Surgeon in 1898, and then of the examinership. For the following twenty-six years the disease progressed, very slowly. Ten years before his death he walked from his house, 1 Cambridge Place, to the College, a distance of nearly four miles.

He had in Mrs McCarthy a devoted companion, like himself Irish, an accomplished linguist, and the two read together Greek and German classics, and walked in Kensington Gardens. Their summer holidays were spent at Parknasilla, near Kenmare. His portrait is in the Council Album.

"Report on Cholera." - London Hosp Rep 1866, ii, 443.
"Remarks on Spinal Ganglia and Nerve Fibres." - Quart Jour Micros Sci, 1875, NS xv, 377.
"Diseases of the Testes" and "Varicocele" in Quain's Dictionary of Medicine.
"Diseases of the Rectum", "Impotence", "Sterility", and "Tetanus" in Heath's Dictionary of Surgery.

Sources used to compile this entry: [London Hosp Gaz, 1924, xxviii, 24].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England