Sadness at death of Donegal's Dr Tom McGinley

Donegal native who founded the Foyle Hospice passes away

Sadness at death of Donegal's Dr Tom McGinley

Donegal's Dr Tom McGinley who founded the Foyle Hospice

There is sadness in Donegal and Derry this afternoon at the announcement of the death of Dr Tom McGinley.

A co-founder of The Foyle Hospice in Derry, Dr McGinley was originally from Gweedore.

Paying tribute to Dr McGinley, Foyle Hospice said: "Dr McGinley was not a colleague and a mentor to staff over the years, he was also a friend and confidant to many patients and families who have engaged with the organisation since it was first established in 1985.

"A true visionary, Foyle Hospice was a labour of love for Dr McGinley and  now stands firm as his legacy to the city, providing palliative care services and support for the community. We will be forever indebted to him for his sheer grit and determination. 

"We hope we do him proud in continuing to deliver the high quality and standard of care that he was exceptionally passionate about.

"We know that he will be sorely missed by his family and friends and we extend our most sincere sympathies to Ciaran, Aisling, Ronan, Sinead and the wider family circle. May he rest in peace."

Reverend Andrew Forster, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, said he never had the pleasure or the privilege of meeting Dr McGinley but certainly knew of his achievements.

"Tom was a man of vision; more importantly, he was a man of action, who used his considerable gifts for the benefit of all.

"When he first conceived of the Foyle Hospice, many years ago, it seemed almost unimaginable. Now, it is an indispensable part of the fabric of this community.

"The Foyle Hospice is a wonderful and tangible monument to a great man, but the enduring gratitude of this whole community will prove an equally significant part of Dr McGinley's towering legacy.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Brian Tierney, has today opened an online Book of Condolence for members of the public to share their tributes and thanks to Dr Tom McGinley. The online Book of Condolence can be signed HERE

Since it opened in 1991, the Foyle Hospice has provided free care for countless patients and played a key role in the north west's health infrastructure as well as helping countless families at a time when they need it most.

Dr McGinley’s work with the hospice saw him awarded a Papal Knighthood by Pope John Paul and the Freedom of the City bestowed on him by Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dr McGinley's family returned to West Donegal a few years after because there was no work in the US.

After attending secondary school in Letterkenny he went to university to study medicine before moving to Derry 1960 to work in the hospital ahead of moving into general practice.

 Following his retirement from the Abbey Medical Centre in 1997 he continued his work with the Hospice.

Dr McGinley decided to set up the Hospice after he became deeply unhappy with the standard of care given to dying people but it was his encounter with a terminally ill 18-year-old cancer patient and his inability to administer effective pain relief or talk to him about dying and death that provided the trigger for what was to become a life-long interest in caring for the terminally ill.

After visiting St Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney in London for a few weeks each year, he decided anaesthetics might be the way forward into providing pain relief so, at the same time as continuing in general practice, he worked towards obtaining a fellowship in anaesthetics.

He was then offered a consultancy position but felt that if he was ever to be involved in hospice care it was better to remain in general practice during which he dedicated his spare time to fulfilling his ambition.

Dr McGinley's son Ciaran said he was 'broken-hearted' at his father's passing.

"My truly amazing Dad & mentor has gone to his rest," he said.

Ciaran added that anyone wishing to pay their respects to Dr McGinley can do so at Bradley and McLaughlin Funeral Home on William Street from 6pm-8pm this evening (Friday).

Dr Tom McGinley: Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.