Fermanagh’s ‘greatest doctor’ to be honoured

By John Carney
ENNISKILLEN Royal Grammar School will host a special event for one of its most celebrated students and the man described as ‘Fermanagh’s greatest doctor’ on Saturday.
The commemoration ceremony is to honour the world-famous Dr Denis Burkitt. Born at 3 Alexandra Terrace, Chanterhill Road, Enniskillen in 1911, he is recognised as the first person to successfully diagnose “Burkitt’s non-lymphoma”, a new cancer in Africa that was named after its discoverer, Dr Burkitt. He was also the first person to pinpoint the importance of fibre in our diet.
Dr Burkitt went to Portora in 1920, but in 1922 he accidentally lost the sight in his right eye, which prompted his parents to move him to a boarding school near Holyhead in Wales.
He entered Trinity College Dublin and although initially studying engineering, after watching an operation at Enniskillen Hospital, he switched to medicine.
The Fermanagh Genealogy Centre event is being hosted by the Enniskillen Royal Grammar School’s Cooper Crescent site at 11.00am where presentations will be made by Professor John Cummings from the University of Dundee and the author of a new biography on Dr Burkitt, and Professor Owen Smith CBE of Trinity College Dublin, Burkitt’s alma mater. His daughters will also be attending to honour their late father.
The new biography by Professor Cummings called “Denis Burkitt: A Cancer, the Virus, and the Prevention of Man-Made Diseases” is the first of the world-famous surgeon to be written with full access to his diaries and family archives. It explores his contribution to cancer biology and nutritional science, and examines his legacy for the cause of cancer and the prevention of disease.
A plaque will later be unveiled at 12pm at his former Alexandra Terrace home where Burkitt grew up, while Trinity College Dublin Provost Linda Doyle will make a speech to celebrate the occasion. There is currently no recognition thus far in his home town or county for his achievements.

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