Written by Barry Lally (Original Published in April/May 2013 issue of Ballinasloe Life Magazine)
In the south aisle of St. Michael’s Church, next to the chancel arch, is a stained-glass window bearing the legend: “In honour of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Of your Christian charity pray for the souls of Junius and Frances Horne. Erected by their son Sir Andrew Horne. A.D. 1915.” Who was this Andrew Horne? He was, in fact, one the leading obstetric and gynaecological physicians in the Ireland of his time, born on 8th August 1856 in Society Street. His father, described as a general merchant, owned several properties on the street.
Educated in Clongowes Wood College and the Carmichael School of Medicine, Dublin, after which he studied for a year in Vienna (1883- ), Horne returned to Dublin and set up an obstetric and gynaecological practice at 28 Harcourt Street. In 1894, as a founder member, first joint master and ex officio governor of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, he was, from its beginnings, largely responsible for the management of the institution. A pioneer in obstetric procedures, he performed the first caesarean section at Holles Street in 1901.
Horne served as President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland from 1908 to 1910, and was re-elected joint master of Holles Street in 1909 and 1919, presiding over a period of medical development and expansion of the institution which later became the largest maternity hospital in Europe.
He married Margaret Norman in 1884, and the couple had five children, two of whom followed their father into the medical profession. When his wife had a leg amputated in 1918, Horne preserved the severed limb in formaldehyde and on her death in 1920 placed it in her coffin.
James Joyce featured Horne as a character in chapter 14 (The Oxen of the Sun) of Ulysses, where his name appears ten times and he also subsequently received a mention in the same author’s Finnegan’s Wake. Horne, though, never read Ulysses and was seemingly unappreciative of the bestowal of literary immortality, for it is said that on one occasion he had Joyce thrown out of the hospital when he caught him snooping about in the maternity ward.
Sir Andrew Horne died on 5th September 1924 at his home 94 Merrion Square, Dublin, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.