Michael Neary

I took away the cradle and I left you the play-pen, said Dr Michael Neary, when informing a woman six weeks later that he had carried out a hysterectomy on her.

Dear God. 

They’re covering the Drogheda hysterectomy scandal in a two-part docudrama on RTE at the moment and I recommend it to you, with a warning that you’ll find it harrowing.

Michael Neary, the consultant obstetrician at the centre of the disgrace, is one arrogant bastard.  He’s a classic example of the untouchable god-like consultant, while the junior staff who exposed his actions were nothing short of heroic in standing up to him.  But by the same token, a lot of so-called professional people stood by and did nothing as Neary mutilated one woman after another, while others  continued to show him the exaggerated deference he thought he deserved.

He’s a barbarian.

During the official inquiry into the case, the investigating judge’s office was broken into three times and the medical records in the hospital were systematically altered or removed in order to protect Neary, or the hospital’s reputation or both.

It was one of the greatest scandals ever to afflict this country, and to my mind it exposes the heartless cabal that still informs a significant element of medical practice in this country.

Neary continued to command respect among his colleagues even though they knew he had a propensity to sexually mutilate young women.  That places some of his colleagues on the same moral level as Neary himself, and indicates to me that an unfeeling authoritarianism is still rampant among Irish medical consultants.

Why is nobody in jail?

I have little to add to my earlier comments here: Doctors Circle the Wagons.




RTE.  Whistleblower

Irish Times


Irish Medical Times

Irish Health

33 thoughts on “Michael Neary

  1. Harrowing indeed and heartbreaking. I know much of what happened will be compressed for ‘dramatic purposes’ so remember that the main whistle blower in this this had been a nurse (in England) for eight years and had not witnessed a hysterectomy in all those years – and where these kind of operations were the most God-awful events – yet in Drogheda she was present at three such operations in a month.

    Three (out of five) of our children were delivered in Drogheda and my partner’s very real fear was that she would be taken to the Lourdes hospital instead of the Cottage hospital. That fear consumed her for much of her pregnancies, and, it turned out, her fears were not irrational after all.

    Yet Neary has not faced prosecution whatsoever. He carried out 129 out of a total of 188 peripartum hysterectomies at our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda between 1974 and 1998,when most obstetricians would carry out less than 10 in their whole career.

  2. Hey Bock, couldn’t follow the alleged reason why he carried out these hysterectomies. Was he, allegedly, willy nilly containing the population ? Was that is alleged God complex?

    Or was the unsaid allegation, that he targeted particular women for these hysterectomies?


  3. I wouldn’t even try to analyse Neary’s motives.

    Maybe he’s deranged or maybe he isn’t but I’ll tell you this much: he’s one callous piece of work.

  4. One thing that doesn’t get much mention generally in this discussion (though I’ve not seen the docu-drama so they may have talked about it in that) is that this is something that basic forms of management and administrative competent should have noticed because surely at some level the amount of procedures being performed nationally and at each hospital is being tracked and then someone could and perhaps should have noticed a abnormal pattern. That’s supposed to be part of the reason for all this form filling and so on.

  5. I think it’s a very complex case, and people should be very wary of judging anyone based on a TV dramatisation.

    I don’t believe Michael Neary maliciously carried out these operations, but I do believe that he was very much in the wrong in carrying them out. What was most scandalous about it all, in my book, is that it took so long for any of it to come to light. Certainly, it all highlighted an enormous need for better oversight.

    I should say, I was delivered by Michael Neary, and despite a very difficult childbirth, my mother was not subjected to hysterectomy during childbirth, which I suppose may influence me a little. I have always tried to look dispassionately at the cases though, and sometimes I just think people should hesitate before condemning him completely.

  6. I didn’t aim that at you specifically, but with such a high-profile dramatisation being screened, it’s likely that a lot of people will do so.

  7. Even if people do happen to base their judgements on the Tv programme, it doesn’t bother me too much. Neary treated those women with utter contempt, and he deserves a bit of the same.

    In my opinion, he should be in jail, so he’s not going to find much sympathy here if people think he’s a prick.

    He is a total prick.

  8. that nurse / midwife should be running this health service, the problem is that this irish health service is managed by such spineless people – its well known that many many people in Our Lady of Lourds knew very will what was happening but decided to keep quiet.

    bad medical decisions and abuse of people happens everyday – this case was won on hard evidance, but the average abuse is generally unproveable and is occuring right now in nursing homes hospitals and health care providers around the country

    get rid of brendan drumm and get than nurse in. i want the health service she can offer.

  9. This was a state in which The Blessed Virgin mother figure was revered, yet at the same time Mna na hÉireann was put under the control of the organisation namely the Roman Catholic Church that revered this figure but totally neglected the mothers of Ireland. What our hypocrisy and double dealing did to our own and most vulnerable can never be forgotten. While Butcher Neary was the one who did the butchery what about all the extended support staff that stood aside and let it take place many being mothers themselves. Outside of the butchery of women who wanted to have more family what type of women had it as an ethos for womens bodys to be butchered for to achieve what a simple clip did? They must be sick narrow minded spivs. What I cant understand is the Irish peers of Butcher Neary were prepared to allow him to continue while a British one could see quite clearly he was an out of control butcher. As far as I’m concerned many heads should have rolled that includes many of the mna of the maternity unit who turned a blind eye to what they must have known was wrong. Strange we had to rely on an outsider from a godless country to put standards in place in a country that we believed the women of Ireland especially the mothers of Ireland were primary and protected. It’s strange that the Butcher was finally unmasked with all the power and authority that supported him up to his position becoming untenable. Of the people we must single out are the brave and courageous two nurses who brought this to the attention of the lawyer of the Health Board and the brave a courageous way he fought to right the situation. Only for them the Butcher would still be in place destroying womens lives. It’s this I fear most is how close he got to getting away and could it happen again and are there other Butchers in our hospitals protected and revered like whom we write about.

  10. I think people need to be very cautious about what they are perceiving on the drama as true. It has never been specified that this Whistleblower came from England and not just another Irish or northern irish hospital. People do have to be aware that nursing is a career where people move frequently in their jobs from location and promotions. These Hysterectomies where also happening for years and anybody who is the child of a civil servent knows that they weren’t allowed to hold down Permanent jobs when they became married so the nurses that worked in the maternity unit may not have been working there for long periods of time to be able to see the patterm. As a nurse myself and who worked i’ve worked in at least 9 differnt areas in my 12 years of nursing!

  11. Dear Sarah we do know the whistleblower had experience of a UK maternity hospital where practises or butchery in Drogheda was unknown. Secondly if you took the trouble to read the report of Judge Harding Clark you would have found the term fossilization of staff at the hospital was used to describe their long term presence there. Strange for a heroine the nurse who blew the scandal out of the water has to remain in hiding. Does that not tell us something of the system that protected the butcher is still in place. Strange that none of his Irish peers did not fall on their swords or apologise to the Irish people for the total lack of patient care consciousness and were prepared to leave the monster in place whereas his UK peers could see he was out of control.

  12. A Uk hospital could easily be a hospital in Northern Ireland. Really what i’m saying that people are being very quick to accuse others of not noticing and If you had read the report you would have seen that there were four different people over the years that questioned his procedures. I don’t think there is anyone to blame here but Neary himself and his few supporters, he is the person that stood there with his scalpal and just as bad denies to this day that he did anything wrong!!!! I totally agree with Cork John that his peers and the Irish reviewers have a huge case to answer and I know who I would be avoiding if I where pregnant. Two other Consultants were also questioned in Drogheda regarding the number of section sand Hysterectomies they performed but where cleared of any wrongdoing one of who is now retired the other out on long term sick leave. Drogheda has improved hugely and also has some really good Consultants working there now. Unfortunatly there isn’t enough beds, not enough midwives and not enough Drs to meet the demand, especially since as Dundalk and Monaghan have no maternity departments

  13. Dear Sarah you state that four people had concerns, there were scores of staff in the maternity ward most of them female and they all knew or should have known what was taking place and it was wrong. These were all professionals ie maternity trained nurses and medically trained doctors and surgeons anaesthesis, pathologist and their gps outside the hospital. I don’t expect the hospital cleaners to know but the scale of what was taking place they should even have heard it. There were not two gynaecologists who gave him a glowing report but three from the top maternity hospitals in the country while just one of his UK peers could see it was butchery. His professional association tried to stand behind him too.
    I think everyone who knew and that includes all the maternity hospital staff then they had a professional duty to protect the most vulnerable in their care and by vulnerable I mean a pregnant women. A professional can’t look the other way when their professionalism is called for and this is what the staff at the maternity unit did and most of them tried to bring a curtain round the wrong so it could continue.
    Another issue which appals me is the butchery of women who wanted a clip on their tubes. What type of ethos could support this type of butchery but sick sick people and that goes for the sterilization ethos of the hospital.
    We need an outing as we had in Dear Daughter to bring to light what the women of Drogheda suffered under a regime of butchery in that hospital. Shame on all those who were part of it, you are equally guilty as the scalpel yielding butcher because you failed in your professional duty to help the sick.

  14. Cork John you didn’t read my post properly I did not say that there was two Consultants asked to review I said there was two Consultants also reviewed. In the report it clearly states that Mr. Neary Mr Lynch and Mr Quigleys hysterectomies reviewed and if you read the report of even the name you will see that thhis was not only a investigation in Mr Neary its actually called “The Lourdes Enqiry” not the Neary enquiry. The following is the numbers from the report which shows the amount of Hysterectomies that took place between 1990-1998.
    Dr. Neary 53
    Dr. Lynch 29
    Dr. O’Brien 1
    Dr. O’Coigligh 2
    Registrars 5
    Locum 1

    AND excuse me but who do you think you are saying “you are equally guilty as the scalpel yielding butcher because you failed in your professional duty to help the sick”

    I did not say I worked there during that time and for your information i didn’t! I’ve worked there since and I have no problem standing up and saying that the care nurses give the Lourdes is excellant. I’m an excellant nurse and I wouldn’t get up day in day out and go in to CARE for people if I didn’t want to help the sick.

  15. It’s not my impression you worked in the hospital in question. My address of the “you” is to those that did. I understand five is the average number of hysterectomies that UK gynaecologist carry out during their careers and we have this Dr Lynch with figures in an eight year period with six times that number. I understand gynaecologists careers last over 40yrs to put this into perspective. During the eight year period it should be one or none. It for me shows the absence of patient care in that place of butchery. I do not shirk from the charge that all those who saw what was going on and did nothing about it are also guilty. What is that again we learn from history about evil prospering is for GOOD MEN STAY SILENT FOR EVIL MEN TO PROSPER.

  16. What i cant get over with this is that this man is still on a full pension and not locked up for his actions.In the documentery the midwife whos womb he removes screams at him not to do it.If that is true to the incident,she must have known exactly what was going on and kept stum.I know once I become a midwife I’ll question everything and will stand up to doctors.I think that was the problem in this case no-one wanted to go against a top consultant and get sacked for it but after this i thinkmore nurse/mdwifes have and will continue to do so

  17. I do not think Neary was an evil man. Do you think of all the hundreds of women he selecred 150 to remove their wombs deliberetly.Not a hope, he may felt jhe was doing what he throught correct andlets face it, Dr Lynch was nottoo far behind (Not described as a buther) and Dr OCaoighligh, in the report was shocked himself that he had such operations inone year (or did Neary make himdothem-Ijest). Why doyouall look onthe evil and black side and feel you all think he had a hidden desire to cut the population of N.East or that he hated women. Perhps he was doing in his best in hospital that was clearly backwards in certain areeas. Certain medicaions not allowed, no vascular surgeon,
    and no tubal ligation. The blood wasnot easy tto come by.All this by the way was based on pathology reports, maybe they were inaccurate??? As for him to be jailed? He had witnesses in theatre who saw no wrong. Why did the so called whitleblower not call the police if she knew he was endangering women???

  18. Are you nuts? Neary mutilated hundreds of women and there is no defence for it.

    You seem to know quite a lot about Neary and you seem very sympathetic to him. Suspiciously sympathetic. I wonder who you are.

    Since you know so much about the pathology reports, perhaps you could tell us who stole the files on Neary’s cases from the hospital, and where they are now. Maybe you could also tell us who broke into the investigating judge’s office.

    Is there something you’d like to share with us?

  19. The pathology reports were held in the Pathology Dept. A copy was placed in the patients charts. (as many went missing obviously so id the pathology report with their files). But a copy still existed in theLab. The cases (for those with incomplete notes) was based on the pathology report. Maybe they were wrong, after all a womb that will not contract will not show uip on a pathology report . The Inquiry mentioned the caution in reading pathology reports alone.

  20. Well no one was charged with the theft of the files – despite a 10 month garda inquiry into the allaged stolen files and over 300 people interviewed, no-one was charged and they were never located. Maybe it was a mastermind who stole them. Big books taken out and no-one saw them go. 44 patient files and birth registers. One would wonder how clever those involved were. The Hospital did an Affidaviit stating in one casethey were stolen andi n another they weere destroyed?
    Harding-Clark although looked uin this very well, the gardai did the investigation over 300 interviewed and the DPP madea a decision in aday. No charges in in any area of the investigation.

  21. As you know perfectly well, criminal charges are not the issue here, just another red herring.

    Women were mutilated unnecessarily due to the authoritarian regime in the hospital and a particular mindset among certain medical practitioners.

    Incidentally, I wouldn’t believe an affidavit from the Lourdes hospital if it said the Pope was a Catholic. The hospital is without credibility.

  22. I agree with you on that , I would not not trust,maybe they took the files themselves. I see in the Shine case files are missing now too.
    I still do not belive Neary is an evil man, he made mistakes obviously, but he was not the only one. I really do feel the media coverage was awful . I was rather freaked out by it all. Pity he never spoke out, might hAVE MADE A difference. Why you interested in his case?

  23. Why should I not be interested in his case? Do I have to pass a special exam before taking an interest in abuse or injustice?

  24. i am looking for a book that was published on these horrific findings for my grandmother i cannot seem to find it anywhere as i do not know the name or the author i was wondering if you could be of help i would be grateful
    regards ciara

  25. Ciara, There were a few books published on this. One is by a woman who set up a charity who organised meetings for the women and their partners to organise etc, and the other is by a midwife who worked at the hospital and later was treated there and underwent a painful hysterectomy herself. The latter book was published I think in 2015.

    Andrew, why conflate these two cases, they are quite different. Yes, first Neary, now Shine, though that does not mean that the Neary case has gone away, to me it seems as unresolved as ever. The Hosp Inquiry – ringfenced a specific cohort of women. The terms of reference excluded some cases that were deemed concerning, but ah well, sure weren’t they outside the terms of reference. P. 99 of the report, states: We came across a small number of hysterectomies carried out in association with a failed pregnancy and this caused us some concern. These were outside of our Terms of Reference.

    The powers that be know who those cases who were outside the terms of reference are surely? Did they take the same obligation upon themselves to do a leak to the media alerting those cases outside the terms of reference? Look at the way this whole inquiry evolved also, the use of the media, the story broke through the media, the cat got out of the bag, the women, some, read about themselves in the paper, before anything formal initiated. Quite ridiculous really.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.