Mourners pay respects to renowned heart surgeon
THE family of eminent cardiologist Maurice Nelligan will be given "grace and consolation at this time of parting and sorrow", those at his removal service were told last night.
Hundreds of mourners, including medics, politicians, family and friends congregated at the small Church of the Assumption on Booterstown Avenue in Dublin to pay their respects to the distinguished heart doctor, considered to have been "the outstanding surgeon of his generation" and a passionate campaigner for better patient services.
He was to have addressed a press conference held by the Roscommon Hospital Action Committee yesterday.
He performed the first open-heart surgery for congenital problems in 1974 and performed the first coronary artery by-pass graft in 1975. He famously carried out Ireland's first heart transplant in 1985.
He is believed to have performed between 14,000 and 15,000 open-heart operations throughout his distinguished career, many of them on children.
Mr Nelligan served as consultant cardiac surgeon at the Mater Hospital from 1971 to 2002 and at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin from 1974 to 2002. He was co-founder of the Blackrock Clinic.
Mr Nelligan (73) died suddenly at his home last Friday.
Mourners at the removal were led by his wife Patricia, sons Maurice, John and David, daughters Lisa and Lucy, his sister Margo and his six grandchildren. The service was also attended by Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin, former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes, singer Andrea Corr, actor Frank Kelly, broadcaster Micheal O Muircheartaigh -- whose brother, a back specialist, worked with Mr Nelligan -- TD Dr James Reilly, MEP Mary Banotti and broadcaster Jimmy McGee.
Parish priest Mgr Seamus Conway expressed his sympathies to the family on behalf of the community.
Last Friday, the family were "deeply shocked by Maurice's sudden death", he said, adding that the congregation had gathered as a tribute to Maurice and to express their sympathy and support. He expressed thanks to God for Maurice, "for all he was", and for his "wonderful life of healing service as a doctor and surgeon".
The funeral takes place today after 11.30am Mass and will be followed by cremation at Mount Jerome, Harold's Cross.