The lasting legacy of a rugby star and doctor
Playing at outside centre, Barry Bresnihan won 25 caps for Ireland from 1966 to 1971, scoring five tries. He won his first cap against England at Twickenham in February 1966, and his last against Wales in March 1971.
He was twice selected for the British Lions: on their tours of New Zealand in 1966, when he scored five tries, and of South Africa two years later, when he scored two tries. He turned out four times for the Barbarians (1966-67), including in a match against Australia in January 1967.
As Bresnihan was born in Waterford, he was qualified to play for Munster. He did so several times, and was in the side that beat the touring Australians in 1967. He played his club rugby with University College Dublin (UCD), Lansdowne and London Irish.
In his career as a Lion, Bresnihan remained on the substitutes' bench for the test matches in New Zealand. In South Africa he played in three of the four tests.
It was as a doctor and medical scientist, however, that he left an enduring legacy.
Born in Waterford on March 13, 1944, Finbarr Patrick Kieran Bresnihan was educated at Gonzaga College in Dublin, considered the "posher" of the capital's two Jesuit schools, then qualified as a doctor at UCD. Thereafter he specialised in rheumatology in London, working at Guy's Hospital, the Medical Research Council's rheumatism research unit at Taplow, and the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in Hammersmith.
There followed a two-year fellowship at the University of Texas, Southwestern, in Dallas, where he worked with the famous American rheumatologist Morris Ziff.
Returning to Ireland as one of the Republic's few qualified rheumatologists, he set up a laboratory at UCD's Medical School, and at its teaching hospital, St Vincent's.
Between both institutions, he created a matrix of specialised clinics and multi-disciplinary teams in rheumatology, and rapidly developed a clinical practice with what the former chairman of the St Vincent's Medical Board described at his funeral as "a staggering workload".
At the same time, Bresnihan produced more than 200 major papers, two books and 13 chapter-length contributions to specialist collections in rheumatology.
He developed a particular interest in rheumatoid arthritis, with an emphasis on the study of the molecular basis of joint inflammation, an extremely painful condition. He was renowned for his straightforward, yet sensitive, way with patients.
Bresnihan lectured at medical conferences throughout the world. Last year the American College of Rheumatology conferred on him the title 'Master', an award granted to physicians aged 65 or older who, as the college puts it, "have made an outstanding contribution to the field of rheumatology through scholarly achievement and/or service to their patients, students and the profession".
In 1991 UCD created for Bresnihan a special 'Chair of Rheumatology', the first in Ireland.
Later in the decade he accepted visiting professorships at the Pasteur Institute in Paris and at the University of Geneva.
In his private life, Bresnihan was extrovert and generous, enjoying the singing of ballads, among them Take Me up to Monto, a paean of praise to the prostitutes of Edwardian Dublin, and The Wild Mountain Thyme -- the latter was sung at his funeral in Dublin.
Barry Bresnihan enjoyed an especially happy marriage to Val Thompson, herself an academic with a PhD in social policy. She survives him, with their son and three daughters.