In Appreciation of Dr Eamonn Ralph
Dr Eamonn Ralph, who died on May 6, 2015 was a regular contributor to seminars on the importance of caring in medical practice which are part of the professional development program for final year medical students at UCD. Eamonn spent his professional life as a standalone general practitioner, initially for many years in the gaeltacht community at Gweedore, County Donegal and subsequently for 20 years in the village of Kildysart Co Clare.
Eamonn drew on his experience as both a doctor and as a patient to offer our students a powerful role model of an empathetic, patient-centred physician. With his customary gentle demeanour and wise counsel, Eamonn encouraged our students to hold on to the core motivation which first inspired their career choice. Through his example and experience, he demonstrated the principles of a caring, empathetic doctor in practice. He also proved an inspiring, impactful teacher and a much admired clinical colleague.
We can think of no better tribute than the reflections of Dr Michael Harty, the general practitioner in a neighbouring Co. Clare village of Kilmihill penned the following note in response to Eamonn’s passing.
It's lonely in the West to-night. Our great friend and colleague Eamonn Ralph died on Wednesday. Aged 61, he continued practicing up to 3 months ago, in spite of his illness. If you did not know him then you missed a great character. We had him in West Clare for 20 years and we enjoyed every minute of his company. Friends from school, college, friends from his time in Donegal, rural GP’s, his colleagues in Clare and above all his patients attended his funeral this morning.
He was a rural single handed GP of the old order. He loved the country people of Clare and they loved him in return. He looked after them with empathy and good honour. You did not leave his company without a smile. He loved the close knit support of his fellow GPs.
But Eamonn was more than a GP. He was a healer, a philosopher, a shaman, a scamp and a rascal. He was a deep thinker and a great judge of human nature. He was on a different plain to most of us and saw clearly from an alternative point of view. He was spiritual in all he did.
There were a few tears at the church, but in the churchyard mainly laughter at the innumerable stories about his communication skills, how a simple events could be turned into an epic. How he could elongate a yarn and dissect a situation or character, creating a hilarious story.
As a golfer he could has a birdie or a 9, it did not matter. Being in the company of his friends and striding down a famous fairway was all that mattered. He was not competitive in any sense.
He played football for Mayo "at the highest level" - his only departure from modesty. I will leave you to check the history books.
He asked that there not be a eulogy at his mass the morning, so I will stop now.
If you can, have a drink to celebrate his life to-night, and remember a time you spent with him.
One of his favourite songs was "The parting glass" - a fitting end to his time with us.
May he guide us and watch over us.
In closing, we share a link to a recording of one of the ‘Care in Medicine’ seminars at which Eamonn contributed with such great impact.
Eamonn's piece begins at 15 minutes.
Our students and staff were privileged to have gotten to know Eamonn in recent years. We are inspired by the courage and strong faith that he displayed during a prolong illness. We offer our condolences to his widow Sheila and their children, James, Alan, Vivienne and Georgina as well as to his colleagues, friends and patients.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam