Corrigan, Dominic John (DNB00)

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CORRIGAN, Sir DOMINIC JOHN, M.D. (1802–1880), physician, son of John Corrigan, a tradesman of Dublin, was born at his father's house in Thomas Street, a long and squalid thoroughfare, which is the way out of Dublin to the south of Ireland, 1 Dec. 1802. After receiving the rudiments of general education at the school attached to Maynooth College, and his first medical instruction from the village doctor, he was sent to Edinburgh and graduated M.D. there in 1825. He returned to Dublin and began practice. In 1833 he became lecturer on medicine in the Carmichael School, and from 1840 to 1866 was physician to the House of Industry hospitals. He attained large practice, and was made physician in ordinary to the queen in Ireland, and in 1866 was created a baronet. He was five times president of the Irish College of Physicians. In 1868 he contested the city of Dublin, and in 1870 was returned to parliament as one of its representatives, and sat till 1874. He supported the popular principles of the day, but had no knowledge of politics, and failed to command attention in the House of Commons. In his later years he suffered from gout, and died of hemiplegia 1 Feb. 1880. As a physician Corrigan has received more praise than is his due. He has been spoken of as the discoverer of the form of valvular disease of the heart known as aortic regurgitation, and as the first described of the peculiar pulse which accompanies it; but Corrigan's paper ‘On Permanent Patency of the Mouth of the Aorta’ was published in the ‘Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal’ for April 1832, while the disease had been described more fully by Hodgkin in 1827 and 1829 (London Medical Gazette, 7 March 1829), and the pulse by Vieussens in 1715. His paper shows that he had made some careful observations, but he cannot have made many, for he remarks (p. 244) that ‘assurance may be given against any sudden termination,’ while the fact is that this form of valvular disease is the commonest morbid appearance associated with sudden and immediate death, and that patients suffering from it are liable to death at any moment. His ‘Lectures on the Nature and Treatment of Fever’ in Dublin, 1853, support the views then becoming prevalent as to the distinction between typhus and typhoid fever. In 1866 he published some general remarks on cholera, and he wrote a few other medical papers of minor importance. His success was due to his good sense and large practical experience, but he was not a profound physician nor a learned one. He had received little general education, and had no knowledge of the writings of his predecessors, but he was the first prominent physician of the race and religion of the majority in Ireland, and the populace were pleased with his success, and spread his fame through the country, so that no physician in Ireland had before received so many fees as he did.

[Works; Lancet, February, 1880.]

N. M.