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COUNTY HAS LOST AN ILLUSTRIOUS SON

Leinster Leader 26 January 1962
County has lost an illustrious son


Through the death last week, of Dr. Robert P. Farnan, Co. Kildare lost one of its most illustrious sons, the medical profession a foremost member, and the country a man whose lifetime was devoted quietly but steadfastly to the cause of Irish nationalism. He died at his home “Bolton,” Baily, Howth, where he had lived for many years.
Born at Bolton Castle, Moone, near the West Wicklow border, he was a son of Mr. Patrick Farnan, who had been a friend of, and a regular visitor at the home of Charles Stewart Parnell. A maternal uncle was Dr. Patrick L. O’Neill, Geraldine House, Athy, Coroner for South Kildare. During the time
he attended Athy C.B.S. he lived with Dr. O’Neill at Geraldine House.
After his early education at Athy C.B.S. and Castleknock College, he studied medicine at the Royal University of Ireland. Before taking his M.B. and B.Ch. degrees, he attended Cecilia St. School of Medicine of the old Catholic University, where he was assistant to Dr. Bermingham, the famous anatomist, and an associate of Dr. Denis Coffey, former President of U.C.D. He graduated from the Royal University in 1897 and, two years later, qualified for his M.O.A. and Licentiate of Midwifery at the Rotunda Hospital.
Dr. Farnan, who soon rose to be one of the leading obstetric surgeons in Ireland, became Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at U.C.D., and was gynaecologist at the Mater Hospital, Dublin, a post from which he retired 13 years ago.
He was Chairman of the Medical research Council from its establishment in 1937 until he retired in 1955. In that year, an honorary degree of LL.D was conferred on him by Trinity College.
Lifelong friend
During the Black and Tan period, President de Valera, his life-long friend, was a guest at his home, 5 Merrion Square, Dublin, and used it as his headquarters. When Mr de Valera went on his mission to meet Lloyd George, the British prime Minister, he was accompanied by Dr. Farnan and it was at 5 Merrion Square that Mr. de Valera met general Ian Smuts, Prime minister for South Africa, for talks before the 1921 Truce. It was also at Dr. Farnan’s home, when Most Rev. Dr. Mannix was his guest that Mr. de Valera met the Archbishop of Melbourne.
Dr. Farnan was a close friend of all the leaders of Sinn Fein and the Irish Volunteers, and regular meetings and conferences of the leaders were held at his home.
In 1938, he became a member of the Seanad and held that office until 1948. He was again a Seanad member from 1951 to 1954, and from 1957 until 1961.
As a boy Dr. Farnan first met Parnell, and in honoured place in Bolton Castle hangs the flag of the Ladies Land League which belonged to Fanny Parnell. He was later to become President of the Land League in Co. Kildare.
Farming was Dr. Farnan’s recreation and hobby and, during the pressure of professional duties he found his loved home at Bolton Castle a place of welcome retreat. In latter years he became increasingly interested in farming and was a most successful breeder of pedigree cattle. The progress of the Aberdeen-Angus cattle in Ireland owed much to his interest in and attention to that breed. He established a record in the history of the Aberdeen-Angus Association by being its President from 1946 until May 1960.
Applied science
As far back as 1918, Dr. Farnan laid the foundation of his famous Bolton herd by building it up of animals most valuable from the point of view of conformation, breeding and quality. What contributed greatly to the success of his herd was his skilful application of the science of genetics to the breeding of pedigree stock. His unerring judgement in the selection of foundation was the admiration and envy of Scottish breeders, and was in time reflected in his winning innumerable prizes at the R.D.S. and other leading shows.
Since 1932, he was a member of the board of directors of the Irish Press Ltd.
In his native district, as well as elsewhere, Dr. Farnan will be remembered, not only as an outstanding Irishman, but as a big hearted country gentleman, generous and hospitable to a very high degree.
He is survived by his wife and his only son, Padraig, a student at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, Dublin.
The Obsequies
Following Requiem Mass in St. Fintan’s Church, Sutton, Dr. Farnan was interred in the family plot in Moone Cemetery. Very Rev. P. Fahy, P.P., Castledermot, assisted by Rev. V. Kelly, C.C., Moone, officiated at the graveside.
Included in the huge cortege were the President and Mrs. De Valera; the Taoiseach, Mr. Sean Lemass; members of the Government and of the Oireachtas, the judiciary and representatives of the medical and the many other associations with which he had been associated.
The coffin, draped in the Tri-colour, was carried from the church by members of the medical staff of the Mater Hospital, and members of the nursing staff of the hospital formed a guard of honour.
The other chief mourners were Mrs. Brigid Farnan (wife); Padraig Farnan (son); Mrs. M. Lynch, Mrs. S. Lynch, Mrs. M. Keady (sisters-in-law); Dr. J. O’Neill, Athy; Messrs. P. J. O’Neill, Kildare Co. Registrar; Brian Tobin, Athy, and Joseph Brennan, Two-Mile-House (cousins); Sister M. Lazarian, Dominican Convent, Cabra; Rev. J. Murphy, C.C., Arran Quay, and Mrs A. Healy (relatives).

An article from the Leinster Leader of 26 January 1962 on the death of one of Co. Kildare's most noted sons, Dr. Robert P. Farnan 


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