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Sunday 20 April 2014

Portmagee poet receives UCC doctorate for cancer research

Dr Joe O’Connell, Portmagee.

TAKING a break from writing about 'women, drink and Kerry', Portmagee native Dr Joe O'Connell received a Dsc (doctorate of science) on Published Work from the University College Cork on Thursday due to his work in the area of cancer research.

TAKING a break from writing about 'women, drink and Kerry', Portmagee native Dr Joe O'Connell received a Dsc (doctorate of science) on Published Work from the University College Cork on Thursday due to his work in the area of cancer research.

The doctorate was presented to Dr O'Connell, who also has a book of poetry, at the UCC conferrings for his published paper on the discovery of a counter-attack concept, which has received over 600 citations in scientific literature since its publication in 1996.

Dr O'Connell, now retired and spending parts of his summer in Kerry, discovered a mechanism by which cancers elude the immune system. This has since proved vital in the study of malignancy in cancers such as colon, lung and breast cancer.

His mother, Bridie, was a teacher in the national school in Portmagee for over 30 years and Dr O'Connell credits her with his beginnings in the academic world. Kathleen, Dr O'Connell's wife, also hails from Ballinskelligs.

Dr O'Connell, who now lives in Cork City with his wife and son, was awarded a Centennial Prize for Academic Publishing in Medical and Health Sciences by the National University of Ireland in 2009.

The research efforts of O'Connell have contributed to the establishment of The Cork Cancer Research Centre and Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at UCC.

In addition to his academic work, Dr O'Connell wrote 'Dingle Day' in 2009, a collection of poetry on "music, women, drink, Kerry, cars and spirituality."

When asked about the inspiration for his poetry, the phrase 'you can take the man out of Kerry' came to mind, "It was just coming home from nights out and jotting a few things down that were in my head," he explained.

It was only through showing his poetry to his friends that he realised he had any promise in the art. Publishers found his work entered into online competitions, none of which he won, and took interest.

The collection has since received great reviews: 'He lets his language go and invents words, delights at times in the pure sound of words, in the pure sound of sound,' said one reviewer"

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