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Dr Robert B. Fitzsimons
MB BCh (1970), MD (1993)

Front Cover 'The Emperor and the Irishman' by Dr Hubert O'Connor

I was delighted to see the piece by Tom Clinch [about 20 years of Trinity Access Programmes in 2011/12 Impact: Philanthropy in Trinity magazine].  I know his uncle Jim Clinch, the obstetrician, and as a child I used to play with his aunt Paddy in Pontypool, Wales, where Jammie was in GP practice.

My father - [John] Barry Fitzsimons - TCD 1942 - was also in GP practice there, and for a time they were in partnership.  I came to TCD also - MB BCh 1970, MD 1993

I recently traced my ancestry to Godwin Swift, who was one of the, apparently, reluctant benefactors of Jonathan Swift.  Godwin's son Willoughby Swift, according to the Rev Milford, one of Swift's biographers, around 1697 sent a parcel of silver coins from Lisbon to his cousin (if Sir John Temple was not Jonathan Swift's father) , that enabled him to complete his study in Trinity.  It is a very compelling story.  That was the impetus behind my last donation.

All my grandfather's family left Ireland in the 1920's, to the USA and England.  He was the only one who stayed.  He was in the Provincial Bank in Cork and then Bantry, during the Troubles, and made sure his son got a good education in Portora and Trinity.  My father had to go to England, however in the war, and married there. I was fortunate to be able to come back as a Paediatrician in Cork in 1978 and Kerry in 1984, where I have been ever since.

My great, great, great grandfather, Mathew, was a Tanner/farmer in Gorey, Wexford, during the 1798 rebellion, and managed to send his son William to Trinity in 1814 (one of two William Fitzsimons' entering that year!).  I suspect they did not pay for the commencements.  William went on to be ordained deacon in Kilmore in 1820 by the notorious Bishop Beresford and then drifted into the Perpetual Curacy in Monamolin (£60 tithes) in 1823, close to the family home at Mountforest.  He married Jane Fleetwood, who was a descendant of Willoughby Swift in 1832.  Times cannot have been easy what with the tithe war and all that.  Probably when things were settling down, along came the famine, and in one dreadful week in September 1849, the Rev William Fitzsimons died from a fever caught whilst visiting a parishioner, and five days later his wife Jane died also, leaving seven orphans, my great grandfather being an infant of ten months.

My great grandfather married Jane Barrington, daughter of William Barrington of the Diocesan School in Wexford (TCD 1831) ,  and they went on to have seven children.  Bankruptcy in 1880 resulted in the Barringtons helping out.  For my grandfather to enter the Bank in 1904 required a family friend and an uncle to stand surety for him.

The thread through all this story is the importance of education and getting the means to access education through good management, luck, or whatever else.   

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