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Educated in Longford and UCD, Harold was among the first
Irish surgeons to be awarded a fellowship to train at the
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota before returning to
Ireland as a Consultant Surgeon at the Richmond Hospital.
His surgical expertise made him the choice of his colleagues
when they went under the knife and his wisdom led them
to elect him President of the Irish Medical Council.
On his return from the US in 1953, he began teaching
anatomy in RCSI part-time and, when he retired from
surgical practice in 1987, he became a Surgeon Prosector
in the Department of Anatomy. Fellowship of the American
College of Surgeons, Honorary Fellowship of RCSI, the
College medal and the naming of the Medical Council
Board Room and an operating theatre in the Bon Secours
Hospital in his honour are among the glittering prizes
he has accumulated. But I suspect that it is the high
regard in which he is held by generations of students
that matters most to him the students elected Harold
as President of their Biological Society in his 90th year,
and it marked 60 years of his teaching in the College.
On his return to anatomy in 1987, Harold worked with
Michael McCormack and Sean Hanson to set up a
thriving group of Surgeon Prosectors who have become
a mainstay of teaching. Harold was instrumental in
setting the tone and standard, and successive Professors
of Anatomy have known that something really was
up when a letter from Harold arrived or he requested
a quiet chat. His advice has always been excellent
and has kept us out of serious trouble so far!
Mind you, with Max Ryan, Brendan Rooney, Kamal Sayed,
Eddie Guiney, Dan Kelly, Brian Lane, Ray Fitzgerald,
Paul Farrell, Henry Osborne, Alec Blayney and Bill
Quinlan around, one suspects that Harold has not had
it all his own way in the Surgeon Prosectors' Office,
but a collegiate unity has always been maintained.
A potential weakness has been his love of Arsenal
FC but this seems to have been rectified recently
as they are now top of the league. Harold, Vivienne
and the family have been most hospitable over the
years, welcoming us to their beautiful home for a
wonderfully long lunch at the end of the summer term.
In 2007, we were delighted when the College agreed
to our request to name the lecture theatre beside the
Anatomy Room the `Harold Browne Lecture Theatre'
in honour of Harold, who had begun teaching there
in 1953. Last year, he and Vivienne were in the same
theatre when the Biological Society presented the Harold
Browne medal for the first time to the winners of an
annual `University Challenge' style anatomy competition.
Last summer, the Anatomical Society met for the
first time in the College and made Harold an
Honorary Fellow. `Gubernaculum' is Latin for `helm,
rudder'. Harold has helped steer RCSI for the past
60 years and we are all truly grateful to him.
Clive Lee is Professor of Anatomy at RCSI.
Harold J. Browne
a legend in his
own lifetime
Clive Lee profiles a venerable surgeon
and educator renowned for his
knowledge, wit and wisdom
A sure hand at the helm Harold Browne at the lecture podium.
Harold and Vivienne Browne pictured at the naming
of the Harold Browne Lecture Theatre in 2007.