In his memoir, A Life in Medicine: From Asclepius to Beckett, Eoin O’Brien, a cardiologist with an international reputation as a clinical scientist, describes his life in medicine and literature. He depicts his relatively privileged up-bringing in a medical family in the impoverished city that was post war Dublin and his intensely Catholic schooling in St Conleths School and Castleknock College, and how he would eventually rebel against religion.
O’Brien describes his training in medicine in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin and in its teaching hospitals, the Richmond and the Rotunda with personal vignettes of his teachers and the teaching of medicine. Moving to England to train as a cardiologist, he describes from the unique vantage point of a front-line doctor the early development of the exciting speciality of cardiology with the introduction of coronary care units, defibrillation and pacemakers to reverse the then horrendous mortality from heart attack.
Back in Dublin, O’Brien describes the practice of medicine, the establishment of a research unit that would gain international recognition for research on the treatment of high blood pressure, and his role in many activities, including journalism and humanitarian activities.
O’Brien’s interest in literature brought him into close friendship with many remarkable writers and artists that included Nevill Johnson, Samuel Beckett, Con Leventhal, Edith Fourneir, Brian O’Doherty and Niall Sheridan and in the final section, he writes with about these associations, giving unique glimpses into the lives of many remarkable people. His recollections of Samuel Beckett, alone, make this an essential text for those interested in the Novel Prize-winning writer.