Dr. Michael Soden, M.A.O., 1915 - 80, Cavan and Tullamore, Co. Offaly
Dr. Michael Soden, M.A.O. of Tullamore, who has died , was born in Virginia, Co. Cavan, in 1915. He studied Medicine at University College, Dublin and Qualified M.B.,B.Ch. in 1942. He was house physician in the Mater Hospital to Professor Henry Moore , M.D. After his early hospital appointments in Dublin, he decided to specialise in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He was appointed Assistant Master at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin, and worked there from 1945 to 1948. he then took the M.A.O. degree in University College, Dublin. Subsequently he followed his chosen speciality in hospital in England, in Northampton and the South London Hospital for Women.
He returned to Ireland to become the first consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology to Portiuncula Hospital when it opened in 1950. there he spent eight very happy, satisfying years, during which he built up an obstetrics practice which brought patients from all over the Wet of Ireland and elsewhere, from all walks of life, to his care. It was at this hospital that he met Peggy, his wife, who nursed there.
Subsequently, he practised for over twenty years as a family doctor in Tullamore. This surely was a major change for him in professional commitment to patients and he met the challenge with indomitable courage and élan, tinged at times for sure , with deep melancholy.
If ever there evolved then a wise, skilled, shrewd practitioner of the art of General Practice, it was Michael Soden. He did , of course, for a while, to some extent, continue at Tullamore his practice in obstetrics and gynaecology. He kept meticulous records; he got to know and remember his patients in his own indescribable and inimitable way; he got through his work quickly and yet found the time to be very kind to the very old and the very sick.
He was coroner for the Offaly area and for many years a staunch member of the Irish Medical Association, being quick with the repartee, a demolisher of the pompous and a staunch defender of professional rights.
Coming, in his own words, from the haunts of Coot and Heron, the pursuit of the pheasant, woodcock, the humble pigeon and the deer brought him many hours of happiness and consolation and friends all over the country; not to mention the pleasures his boat on the lake gave him. He reared his six children, the apples of his eye, in their lovely home where he was always a generous host.
A sweet striker of the golf ball; he contested the Captains Prize finals three times at Tullamore golf club. Shortly before his death he sang Kevin Barry at the Tullamore Nurses Hospital Dance from the ballroom stage. One readily remembers his singing or whistling to a mixed gathering on the stage at Puerto de la Cruz and with grace joining in a Flamenco dance.
Although outwardly a colourful character, he was a sensitive soul and behind it all was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. Despite a busy days work he attended daily Mass.
They sang Danny Boy after the funeral mass, a lament which went hard to many of the large congregation.
The old order has changed. A large character has passed away from among us. One could speculate forever as to the many facets of his complex character. There was a little of the Chaucer about him, a little of the Falstaff, something of the Hemingway, much of Luke the Physician, and more than a dash of Orion the Great Hunter. But what a Virginian this was, who supped so full of life even during infirmity!
He lies in peace near a little river and a wood not a mile from home at the old church in Muclagh.
A child friend sent his family a Mass card adding : He shall not hear the Bittern Cry. As the Eriskay love lilt went - Bheir Mi O, Sad am I without thee!
- Joe Hughes
Connacht Tribune, 8th February, 1980 , page 46