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Macnamara Family of Corofin

Dr Maccon Macnamara of Corofin retired in 2006 ending 180 years of medical provision by his family to Corofin. He donated his family papers to the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. A list of the papers can be found here and Dr Macnamara and the RCPI have kindly allowed us to reproduce Dr Donough Wheeler Macnamara’s account of life in Corofin during the War of Independence below.

The Macnamara family of Corofin, Co Clare provided four generations of doctors to their local community from 1826 to 2006. Dr Michael Macnamara (1806-1892) began his practice in 1826 and was married to Elizabeth Unthank, the couple had 15 children.

Their eldest son George Unthank Macnamara (1849-1919) was one of six brothers who studied medicine. George was a well-known antiquarian and photographer. His collection of photographs was donated to Clare County Library in 1941 by Dr. Donough Wheeler Macnamara. A further collection of glass plate negatives was digitized by Clare County Archives in 2010 by kind permission of Mr and Mrs George Macnamara of Baunkyle House, Corofin.

This collection of photographs contains family portraits of the Macnamara family and other local families as well as images of social and archaeological features of late 19th and early 20th century Clare and other Irish locations. Also included are some images of India where George’s brothers Lieutenant Colonel John William Unthank and Lieutenant Robert Joseph served in the Indian and Bengal Medical Services during the years 1879-1908.

The Photographic Archive can be access on the website of Clare County Library here.
MacNamara Family of Corofin
Macnamara Family Outing. A Macnamara family outing with (L-R) Mrs Frances Macnamara (Pidgi); Mary Macnamara (daughter); Dr. Denis Keane, Ennistymon; Unknown woman; Dr George Unthank Macnamara; Ms Elizabeth Macnamara (Lizzie) (sister); Unknown man; Donagh Macnamara (son); Margaret Macnamara (Maggie) (sister); Unknown clergyman. The outing probably took place to Inchiquin Island, also known as Slatey Island, in Lough Inchiquin.
George married Jane Moran in 1891. His death in 1919 is recorded in the Board of Guardian Books for Corofin as follows:

“That we, the members of the Corofin Board of Guardians deeply regret the demise of our late revered Medical Officer Dr G.U. Macnamara. The news of his unexpected death came as a painful shock to all, casting a gloom over the district, where expressions of sorrow & sympathy became general. His long professional services as Medical Officer of the Corofin Dispensary District – extending over 43 years – brought him into contact with the people everywhere, and it is safe to say that there is not a single household therein that is not under a deep debt of gratitude to him. To the poor he was especially kind and sympathetic and we have had plenty proof of his active interest on their behalf on all occasions. The deceased gentleman was widely known as an antiquarian & student of historical Records, but in his own district he will best be remembered for his painstaking & skillful professional services. His familiar figure will now be missed, but the memory of ‘Dr. George’ is destined to remain fresh in the minds of this generation. To his sorrowing wife & family and relatives we tender our respectful sympathy and adjourn the meeting as an additional mark of respect.”

The relevant page of the Corofin Union Minutes book can be found here.

After George’s death, his eldest son Donough Wheeler Macnamara (1893-1970) took over the practice. Donough wrote an account of Corofin during the War of Independence called ‘Corofin and the sky over it: Life in Corofin during the troubles’. The account tells of Donough’s return to Corofin, his nationalism and his role as a newly-qualified dispensary doctor. Two of Donough’s sons Michael (1924-1997) and Maccon (b. 1936) qualified as medical doctors. When Donough retired in 1966, Maccon carried on the family practice. Maccon Macnamara retired in 2006.


Personal Statement