Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Dr. Michael Loftus and Mr. Joseph Gallagher Awarded with Honorary Fellowships

16 September 2006

Dr. Michael Loftus and Mr Joseph Edward Gallagher were awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine of The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland for their outstanding contributions to their fields. The conferring was made at the The Annual Scientific Meeting of the Irish Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine which was held on September 16th 2006.

Dr Michael J Loftus who received Honorary Fellowship of the the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine with, with his wife Edie, at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland on Saturday 16th September 2006

Dr. Michael Loftus was born in County Mayo, some 77 years ago in 1929. County Mayo has provided Ireland with many famous people who have contributed to sport or medicine, but few, if any, have contributed as much to both medicine and sport at local and national than Michael Loftus over many years, and continues to do so with unrelenting enthusiasm and energy.

He received his primary and secondary education locally in North Mayo attending the local National School in Crossmolina and St Muredach’s College in Ballina. He then attended the Medical School at University College Galway qualifying as a medical doctor in 1954. He undertook his surgical and medical postgraduate training at Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar and Manorhamilton Orthopaedic Hospital in County Leitrim.

In 1957, he started practice as a General Medical & Family Practitioner in his native Crossmolina where he continues to practise daily.

He was Coroner for County Mayo for many years and it was during this period that he developed concern about alcohol abuse and particularly its effects on young people in relation to road traffic accidents, and on the lives of others surrounding the victims of accidents and alcohol misuse.

Michael Loftus excelled as a football player at his chosen sport of Gaelic football at club, county, university and provincial levels. He won three All-Ireland University Football Championships with University College Galway in the 1950s - namely the Sigerson Cup - the competition named after that famous doctor - Dr George Sigerson.

He played in minor, junior and senior All-Ireland Football Finals and was part of the Mayo team who last won the All-Ireland Football Championship in 1951. He is very confident the long frustrating wait for Mayo to regain the Sam Maguire Cup will end with success over Kerry tomorrow in Croke Park.

He became a Gaelic football referee when he finished playing football and refereed at all levels of club, county, and national level. He refereed two All-Ireland Senior Football Finals in 1965 and 1967.

He later became a noted administrator within the Gaelic Athletic Association at club, county, provincial and eventually national level. He was Chairman of the Mayo County Board, and subsequently Provincial Chairman of the Connaught Council, and ultimately became the third medical doctor to become President of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1985-87. The other doctors who were Presidents of the Gaelic Athletic Association were the late Dr Joe Stewart, an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Coombe Women’s Hospital in Dublin, and the late Dr Donal Keenan who was also an All-Ireland footballer and General Medical Practitioner in Roscommon.

Dr. Loftus has worked tirelessly on behalf all of the community in his area and nationally and has had particular involvement in campaigns to deal with issues of alcohol misuse and abuse, and issues of ageing and older people. He campaigned tirelessly to have local, national and government agencies and governing bodies to be involved in dealing with these issues.

Mr Joseph E Gallagher receiving Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine, from Dr Michael G Molloy, Dean, at a ceremony held at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland on Saturday 16th September 2006. (Looking on, Dr Philip Carolan, Honorary Secretary of the Faculty and Ms Eileen Maher, Dean of the Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland)

Mr Joseph Edward Gallagher surgical career initially followed the well trodden path to the United Kingdom where he first trained in general surgery but from early on in his training orthopaedics and in particular spinal surgery captured his interest.

He was conferred with a Fellowship of the college of Surgeons in Ireland in 1956 and quickly followed this with a Master of Surgery degree from the National University of Ireland, UCD, in 1957.

Prior to returning to Ireland to take up a Consultant post, he held Senior Registrar posts at the internationally known Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.

Appointed Consultant to St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin and Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital, he took on the onerous task of setting up initially the Accident & Emergency Department in St Vincent’s and then pioneered spinal surgery which, at that time, dealt with a significant volume of patients with tuberculosis.

He was the founder member and President of the Irish Scoliosis Society and later when hip joint replacement became feasible he pioneered this in Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital and like all master craftsmen made surgery look easy!

As a tribute from his Consultant colleagues in Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital a medal exam was instituted for students in their final year in orthopaedics. This is a hotly contested medal.

Mr. Gallagher’s interest in sports goes back to his early days, particularly rugby. He played for UCD while at college and in the Hospital’s Cup he captained the St Vincent’s Hospital team.In the early 70’s he was appointed Medical Advisor to the Irish Rugby Football Union, a post he held until 1995.

His dedication to rugby football and its injuries was recognised internationally when he was appointed to the International Rugby Board in 1989. He continues currently as a member of the Irish Rugby Football Union Charitable Trust.