Friday 22 November 2019

Dr Peter Boylan profiled: 'Captain' who delivered 6,000 babies is married to sister of current Master

Dr Peter Boylan Picture: Steve Humphreys
Dr Peter Boylan Picture: Steve Humphreys

"It is like captaining the All Blacks for seven years, or the Irish team - not bad," was how Dr Peter Boylan summed up his time as Master of the National Maternity Hospital.

Over the course of his 40-year career, he delivered over 6,000 babies and has long been known for his outspoken campaigning in defence of women's rights.

In the wake of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar at Galway University Hospital in 2012, Dr Boylan gave expert witness at her inquest, saying that she would still be alive if an abortion had been performed - but that the legal situation had not allowed it.

Afterwards he hit out strongly at criticism that he was 'pro-abortion', saying: "My agenda is the protection of the lives of women and equal respect for the unborn."

"I take grave exception to people extrapolating from my wish to see women get the best care available to attempt to brand me as something that I'm not, which is pro-abortion," he said in May 2013.

"I'm as 'pro-life' as any obstetrician in this country but I do recognise there are times when terminations of pregnancy need to be done."

Some months later, he told 'Morning Ireland' that Ireland lagged far behind best international practice when it came to staffing levels in maternity hospitals.

Born in a nursing home in Dublin, Dr Boylan was the fourth child of Henry Boylan from Drogheda and Patricia Clancy from Northern Ireland.

He went to school in St Mary's in Rathmines and then on to UCD where he studied medicine.

A keen rugby player, the played for Leinster under-19s and under-21s.

He was inspired to go into obstetrics when, as a medical student, he spent six months in Holles Street. He qualified in 1974 and spent time in the US and the UK before returning to Ireland in 1981 as a Registrar in Holles Street.

Dr Boylan was appointed Master of the hospital in 1991 and brought relief to thousands of women when, almost overnight, he liberalised the hospital policy towards epidurals.

He is married to Trinity historian Jane Boylan, elder sister of current Holles Street master Rhona Mahony.

Their relationship as in-laws has sparked much curiosity and is understood to be significantly strained with the recent debacle over the future of the hospital, with the publication of terse emails.

However, Jane Boylan has defended her husband's stance on Twitter, saying he had abstained from the key vote "out of loyalty to the Master."

Irish Independent

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