Above: L-R Micheál Kirby; V. Rev Michael O'Donovan, and Sean O'Sullivan.
The launch of the first phase of the Professor Gerry O’Sullivan Memorial Park in Caheragh took place with the turning of the sod on Easter Monday, April 21.
The Exploratorium being built will emphasise the workings of science in our world — a fitting tribute to Professor O’Sullivan who was a world renowned and preeminent cancer researcher and surgeon, an immunotherapist and the founder of the Cork Cancer Research Centre.
The project (a limited company), which is run by a voluntary group and funded by the West Cork Development Partnership and Cork County Council, will be a significant feature in the village of Caheragh linking the village to the churches and school, in effect ideally ‘infilling’ the existing vacant area. The required land has been generously handed over by Micheál and Kathleen Kirby.
The proposed design by Forestbird Design is elegant and sophisticated with the layout well planned and designed to give a safe and interesting experience for the public to enjoy. The proposed ‘art’ pieces are intelligent and fitting for the memory of Prof. Gerry O’Sullivan. With this in mind, the park, when constructed, will express the fascination of science through two groups of natural processes; Human Senses and Our Climate. Within the Exploratorium, you will be able to walk on the Planet Walk (footpath) and read interpretive signs marking the relative distances between the planets in the solar system.
Born into a traditional West Cork farming family at Milleenahorna, Caheragh, Prof Gerry O’Sullivan was an exceptionally gifted man who simultaneously soared to the highest level of two challenging professions; surgeon and scientist.
Following Surgical Residencies in Ireland and the US, he was appointed Consultant Surgeon at the Mercy University Hospital Cork in 1985. He was appointed as Professor of the Department of Surgery at NUIC in 1999. Also in 1999, he founded the internationally recognised Cork Cancer Research Centre and was its Director in Chief. He also pioneered and developed five new treatments for cancer.
He was a past President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and past President of the European Surgical Association (ESA).
In recognition of a substantial and sustained contribution to scientific knowledge beyond that required for a PhD he was awarded the Doctorate of Science by the National University of Ireland – the highest scientific award they can bestow.
A distinguished academic and clinician, Professor O’Sullivan has authored and co-authored over 200 papers, ranging from the innovation of surgical techniques to novel oncological therapeutics and was one of the early pioneers in discovery and development of probiotic bacteria as therapeutics.
He has received numerous awards for research.
Prof O’Sullivan believed and proved that Cork and West Cork could and did contribute to development of surgical techniques and cancer breakthroughs with global impact.
Dr James Watson – Nobel Laureate (co-founder of the structure of DNA) commenting on his untimely death stated “He was so unique, standing strong above those who first worshipped his surgical skills and then his determination to move from treating, to truly curing cancer. His passing creates a gap that will not go away – in Cork, in Ireland, in Europe and throughout the world”.