“Limerick Connection: A Disputed Allegation in the Royal College of Surgeons’ Presidency Election”

The Presidency of the Royal College of Surgeons was the subject of a lawsuit in which damages were claimed for an alleged libel. Mr. Thomas Myles, Vice-President of the Royal College of Surgeons, sought an order to restrain Dr. Henry FitzGibbon from publishing alleged defamatory statements. Myles was running against FitzGibbon in the upcoming election for the Presidency of the College. FitzGibbon’s accusations against Myles were centered around Myles’ connection to the city of Limerick and the United Irish League.

In a letter to the Fellows of the College of Surgeons, FitzGibbon stated that whilst he admired Myles’ surgical proficiency and respected him as a friend, Myles’ association with politics in Limerick made him unfit for the position of President of the college. According to FitzGibbon, Myles had received and accepted an offer from the Mayor and Corporation of Limerick to receive the freedom of the city. This claim was supposedly supported by a newspaper article in the Evening Telegraph, but closer examination revealed that FitzGibbon had misinterpreted the article. The letter Myles had sent to the Town Clerk of Limerick reportedly had no connection with the United Irish League, nor did Myles’ actions in Limerick indicate any association with them.

Despite the allegations in FitzGibbon’s letter, the fact that both he and Myles were esteemed professionals in the field of surgery indicated that much of it was based on conjecture and incorrect interpretation of the facts. His accusations were deemed unfair and damaging to Myles’ reputation, and an injunction was secured to prevent further libelous publications.

Belfast News-Letter – Thursday 24 May 1900

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