UCC Anaesthesiology Newsletter

13 Nov 2023

Welcome to the Autumn edition:

Dr Claire Healy, SAT 3, CUH

My name is Claire, I’m a SAT 3 trainee working in Cork University Hospital (CUH) and, together with Dr Hickey, I am currently an editor of the UCC Anaesthesiology Newsletter. This newsletter is a place to share clinical updates, departmental news, interesting stories and just general ✨gas✨ bits and bobs.

We feature some social events from the CUH Anaesthetic Department such as the Coffee and a Gas Program, a CAI initiative, as well as a few outings to allow some well-deserved socialising as a department outside of the clinical environment. We would like to thank the CUH Anaesthesiology CAI DIT Wellness Leads, Dr Kim O’Brien (SpR) and Dr Vignesh Naidu (Reg), for organising the Halloween Pumpkin Carving Competition and the Anaesthesiologist of the Week Competition. The food and sweets for the above wellness initiatives were funded by the CAI Tutors Fund.

We welcome some new Consultant Anaesthesiologists to the region and wish them well in their future careers.

We include a feature on Dr Aidan McCarthy, a UCC Medical Graduate, who survived the evacuation of Dunkirk and the bombing of Nagasaki- and hear how he came to possess a treasured samurai sword.

If anyone would like to contribute to future newsletters, please send us an email to We especially would love to receive photographs of wellness initiatives in other departments of anaesthesiology.


Irish Pain Society Meeting, UCC, October 20th and 21st:

The 23rd Annual Pain Society Meeting of the Irish Pain Society was held at the UCC Western Gateway Building on the 20th and 21st October. This multidisciplinary pain meeting was attended by over 180 delegates, speakers, chairs, and sponsors who availed of presentations, posters and workshops on the latest pain research by international and national pain researchers. The region was well represented with many speakers from the CUH and SIVUH anaesthesia departments including Dr Cormac Mullins and Dr Andrew Purcell, Consultants in Pain Medicine and Anaesthesiology. The meeting was partly organised and hosted by Dr John Browne, Consultant in Pain Medicine, and sessions were chaired by Prof George Shorten and Dr Damian Murphy.

Prizes awarded included:

Dr Hugh Raftery Prize: Ahmed Abdelaziz & Mohammad Soliman, South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital and Cork University Hospital.

Best Clinical Poster (NCHD): Sarah Coffee, South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital

Best Clinical Poster (non-NCHD): Emily Byrne, Cork University Hospital.

Included are examples of the many excellent poster presentations.

Well done to all involved!


Academic updates:

The Gaffney Prize

Congratulations to Ms Anne Marie O’Brien who will be awarded the Gaffney Prize 2023 for her project entitled “The effect of hydrotherapy on the functional, biopsychosocial and pain parameters in Chronic Low Back Pain”. The Gaffney Prize is an annual undergraduate pri ze in Anaesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine which was established in honour of Doctor Desmond Gaffney, former Chairman of the Department of Anaesthesia, CUH.


Recent publications:

The CUH Anaesthetic Department continues to contribute to the international collaboration examining Reflective Practice amongst anaesthetists. This has culminated in a recent publication in BMC Medical Education titled “Measuring deliberate reflection in residents: validation and psychometric properties of a measurement tool” and a consensus statement in the European Journal of Anaesthesiology titled “A consensus statement on the meaning, value and utility of training program outcomes, with specific reference to anaesthesiology”.


The Royal Academy of Medicine of Ireland Presidential lecture-

Professor George Shorten (President of the College of Anaesthesiologists; Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, UCC; Consultant Anaesthesiologist, CUH) will deliver the Royal Academy of Medicine of Ireland Presidential Lecture on November 23, 2023, titled “Are we good at what we do? The future of medical training with specific reference to anaesthesiology “. In this lecture, he will outline the value of Medical Training Outcomes, with special emphasis on measurement of clinical performance, the application of learning analytics and meaningful reflective practice.


PROMPT course:

Another successful multidisciplinary PROMPT Course was held on the 17th of October at the Cork University Maternity Hospital. These courses provide a unique opportunity for Midwives, Obstetricians and Anaesthesiologists to undertake team training in the management of obstetric emergencies and have been proven to improve outcomes for mothers and babies. The faculty for the Anaesthetic Emergencies and Maternal Collapse workshop were Ms Mary Prince (CNM 2), Dr Claire Healy (SpR) and Dr Oonagh Hickey (Consultant Anaesthetist).


Department updates:

Cork University Hospital

We welcome Dr. John Robert (JR) Sheehan, who was appointed as a Consultant Anaesthesiologist in June 2023. J.R. is also a CAI Wellness Lead for the CUH Anaesthetic Department. J.R. Is from West Cork and studied Medicine with an Intercalated degree in Neuroscience at UCC. He spent some time working as an ICU/Heli-retrieval doctor in New Zealand, before returning home to the CUH ICU. After his tour of the ICUs of Ireland on the CAI training scheme, he went to work as a PICU/Retrieval Fellow at the Evelina, GSTT, London. He is delighted to be returning back home to Cork and is looking forward to working as part of the team.

We would also like to congratulate JR and Hazel on the recent safe arrival of baby Sam.

We also welcome Dr Paudie Delaney, who was also recently appointed as a Consultant Anaesthesiologist at the CUH- although he claims to be a proud Kerryman. He graduated from UCC in 2012 and completed the CAI SAT scheme in 2020. He undertook an Intensive Care Medicine fellowship in the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia from 2021 to 2023, following in the footsteps of many of his predecessors. He also undertook a Masters in Simulation and Patient Safety from NUIG in 2022 and has been on the faculty of the CAI Simulation Program held at the ASSERT Centre in UCC. His special interests include echocardiography, trauma, neurocritical care and simulation. His hobbies include surfing, coffee, running and soccer. He claims to be “delighted to return to CUH, up the kingdom!”. We may need to discuss his loyalties at some point!

Dr Murray Connolly has also recently been appointed as a Consultant Anaesthesiologist in the CUH in the last couple of months. Hailing from Skibbereen, Murray is contributing to the substantial West Cork cohort within the department. He graduated from University College Cork in 2014, completed his Internship in CUH and completed his specialty training between Cork and Dublin. Murray has subspecialty interests in Trauma and Obstetric Anaesthesia, having completed Fellowships in CUH, The Coombe and The Rotunda Hospitals, and has completed substantial research in the areas of medical education, Technology Enhanced Learning, and Mixed Reality. Outside of the hospital, he can probably be found either on his bike, or running after his children who have most likely taken off running in opposite directions.


Team building:

The Coffee and a Gas Program is an Association of Anaesthetists and College of Anaesthesiologists in Ireland (CAI) initiative to facilitate members of departments meeting in an informal environment. On September 19th, members of the CUH Anaesthetic Department gathered to enjoy cupcakes from Hannah’s Kitchen.

On September 21st members of the CUH Anaesthetic Department gathered at Tom Barry’s for well earned pizza.

On September 21st members of the CUH Anaesthetic Department gathered at Tom Barry’s for well earned pizza.


CUH Anaesthetic Department Pumpkin Carving Competition:

The department put their best scalpels forward and many enjoyed pumpkin carving for the spooky season. A great array of themes were submitted with some people going for the more traditional Halloween carvings and others putting their own twist!


CUH Anaesthesiologist of the Week:

“Anaesthesiologist of the Week” has been introduced by Wellness Lead and SAT3 trainee, Dr Kim O’Brien. An entirely non clinical title, it recognises one trainee at the end of every week who has been an exceptional colleague - be that for helping out in theatre, stepping in to cover someone who’s been unwell or just being an all round “sound” colleague. Nominees can be submitted throughout the week and the judging committee painstakingly review them all and announce the winner of the week every Friday afternoon. A small chocolate based prize is awarded to each winner but the real prize is the glory and gloating rights in the NCHD WhatsApp group for a full 7 days!

The winners so far have been:

  • 13th October 23: Dr Seema Bhayla
  • 20th October 23: Dr Chris Yen Chen Lo
  • 27 th October 23: Dr Ahmed Abdelaziz
  • 3rd November 23: Dr Aoife Driscoll


Good news:

More baby news:

We congratulate:

Dr John McNamara (Consultant Anaesthesiologist, CUH) and Rebecca on the arrival of baby Dylan;

Dr Michael O’Sullivan (SpR, CUH) and Rachel on the arrival of baby Jack;

Dr Vignesh Naidu (Registrar, CUH) and Dee on the arrival of baby Isla.

Birthday wishes:

We would like to wish Mr Finbarr Buckley, Portering Department, a very happy birthday. Finbarr is a hugely popular member of the theatre team at the CUH and he is a great organiser of social events for the theatre staff.


Happy Diwali:

We wish our Hindu colleagues a very Happy Diwali as they celebrate the Festival of Lights on November 12th.


History corner:

A Doctors Sword

Dr Aidan McCarthy was born in 1913 in Castletownbere, County Cork and studied medicine at UCC- graduating in 1938. Not being from a medical family, he had difficulty finding work in Cork and moved to London. He met with two former classmates one evening for a few drinks, during which he decided to join the British Armed Services. A toss of a coin by a nightclub hostess determined that he would join the Royal Air Force. In 1940 he was posted to France and was evacuated from Dunkirk, where he tended to the wounded while under fire from enemy aircraft. A torpedo struck the ship that was evacuating him and a dining room was converted into an operating theatre where he could tend to the wounded. Meanwhile the troops on board were instructed to move to one side of the boat so that water would not enter through the hole in the hull at the waterline. In 1941 he helped to rescue some of the crew from a crashed and burning Wellington Bomber, becoming burned himself in the process. He was duly awarded the George Medal for this act of bravery.

In 1941 he was posted to the Far East and was captured by the Japanese in Sumatra. For over 3 ½ years he endured horrific conditions and his weight dropped from 14 stone to 7 stone, however he saved many lives by improvising very limited resources to treat malnutrition. In 1944 the prison ship that he was being transported in was torpedoed by a US submarine, leaving the survivors floating in the South China Sea. A Japanese destroyer initially rescued some of the survivors but began to brutally beat them up and throw them back in the sea. Many, including Aidan Mccarthy, jumped back into the sea to avoid this maltreatment. A Japanese fishing boat rescued some of them again and they were transported back to Japan to work as slave labour at the Mitsubishi Steel and Iron Works in Nagasaki under horrific conditions. As a result, he found himself in Nagasaki when the atomic bomb was dropped. Prewarned to take cover via an announcement on a secret radio, many of the prisoners escaped the blast of the bomb. At the end of the war, some Australian prisoners of war attempted to kill their Japanese captors. Aidan Mccarthy prevented a massacre, and the Prison Camp Commander presented his with his samurai sword to him in gratitude. This was an incredible honour as these swords carry the ashes of a family’s ancestors in the handle. He wrote his memoirs “A Doctors War” in 1979 and died in 1995.

In 2001 the popular book “McCarthy’s Bar” by Pete McCarthy was published. The book outlined his adventures travelling through Ireland, adhering to one rule- never to pass a pub with his surname over the door. One such establishment was McCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere, West Cork, which featured on the cover of the book (complete with the “nun” drinking a pint of stout). Over the course of the evening, the owner Adrienne McCarthy gave Pete McCarthy a copy of her fathers memoirs. Pete was fascinated by the story and as a result the book was republished in 2005.

In 2015 a film called “A Doctors Sword '' was released and a book by the same name was published in 2017. In July 2017, Prince Harry unveiled a plaque to him at RAF Honington, Suffolk, the RAF base where he helped rescue the crew of the Wellington Bomber and where he remains a hero. The Medical Centre at the base was named in his honour. The samurai sword is still on display at McCarthy’s Bar.

A DOCTOR'S SWORD | maccarthysbar


Poetry Corner:

Dr Brian O’Brien, Consultant Anaesthesiologt, CUH, continues his poetic adventures with a recent publication in the AAGBI Newsletter of a couple of Clerihews:

“Having worked on the Haiku and Limerick as poetic forms within which to explore, or even joke about, details of anaesthesia and science [1, 2], I recently heard on the quiz show Only Connect of a format called a ‘Clerihew’. It’s a four-line poem typically about an individual, is supposed to be funny and it emphasizes their biographical achievements.

Part of the humour involves having irregular numbers of syllables in lines and also in rhyming words that are hard to match, such as the person’s name. The structure takes its name (Wikipedia tells me) from the impressively named Edmund Clerihew Bentley. One of his better-known works is about a significant figure in the history of anaesthesia, revealing a little-known aspect of his dietary preferences:


Sir Humphry Davy

Abominated gravy.

He lived in the odium

Of having discovered Sodium.


Taking this as my inspiration, I thought it might be worth commemorating other major contributors to our speciality in the same way, all of which leads up to:


Before Mallampati

You’d have thought I was batty,

Or, at least, behaving most unusually

When inspecting patients’ uvulae.


Perhaps our readers might wish to immortalise leading anaesthesiologists in a similar way?”


Brian O’Brien


Department of Anaesthesia

Cork University Hospital, Cork



1. O’Brien B. Gas laws stated as haiku – poem. Irish Medical Journal 2022: 115; 568.

2. O’Brien B. Limerick corner. Anaesthesia News 2023: Issue 428; 16.



Dr Claire Healy, SAT 3, CUH

Dr Oonagh Hickey, Consultant Anaesthesiologist, CUH

Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine