Lives Remembered

Ian Bailey: Pioneering and unflappable neurosurgeon during worst years of Troubles

Ian Bailey was a consultant neurosurgeon at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital for more than two decades

IAN Bailey was a pioneering neurosurgeon whose remarkable skill and dedication saved numerous lives during the Troubles.

Appointed a consultant at the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1974, he rapidly gained experience in the treatment of gunshot and blast injuries to the head and spine.

The hospital developed the use of titanium to repair skull fractures and techniques employed for the first time in Belfast soon became standard procedure around the world.

Colleagues would marvel at Mr Bailey's stamina as he spent long hours in the operating theatre on difficult cases.

But throughout it all he did not let the terrible sights he witnessed or pressures he bore impinge on relationships at work or home.

Amiable and unflappable, family and former staff cannot recall a single occasion where he gave way to anger.

In retirement his gentle nature also won many more friends as he immersed himself in community life in his adopted home of Boa Island in Co Fermanagh.

The eldest son of a pre-eminent Dublin family, Ian Bailey was born in 1929 and educated at St Andrew's College in the city before studying medicine at Trinity College.

He gained early experience in hospitals in Dublin, Belfast and Larne before embarking on a career in neurosurgery at King's College and Guy's in London.

In 1969 he was persuaded by a colleague to lend his expertise to an underdeveloped health service in Uganda.

Despite political upheavals he established basic neurological services in the East African country and the institution he set up continues to provide treatment to this day.

Mr Bailey published widely during his time both in Africa and Belfast, with almost 30 scientific publications covering a wide range of neurosurgical topics.

His growing reputation also took him to Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other parts of the world.

An accomplished athlete and rugby player while at college, running provided a release from the strains of work throughout his professional life, and he took part in marathons and half-marathons into his sixth decade.

Retirement from the Royal in 1995 also provided an opportunity to further develop his interest in philately, with stamps from Africa making up much of notable collection.

His characteristic diligence and attention to detail were recognised with gold and silver medals and other prizes for his displays at the North of Ireland Philatelic Society, the Irish National Stamp Exhibition and the Royal Philatelic Society.

Ian Campbell Bailey died aged 88 on January 2 while on holiday in the Canary Islands and was buried after a funeral service at Enniskillen Cathedral.

He is survived by his wife Ruth, children Christopher, Michael and Caroline, siblings Cedric and Rhona and six grandchildren.

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