10 Secrets of the University Hospital Galway

10 Secrets of the University Hospital Galway

Probably not much, right? It’s understandable, really, because the hospital is one of Ireland’s finest medical institutions and has been since it opened in 1974. Yet despite its prominence in the Irish medical community, there are still plenty of mysteries surrounding the university hospital.


The University Hospital Galway (UHG) was established on November 8, 1845, and it has grown from its modest beginnings in High Street to become one of the largest hospitals in Ireland. Today, UHG has 500 beds, 1,800 staff members and treats more than 1 million patients annually at its acute services facility and at a number of satellite locations throughout Galway City and County.

We wanted to share with you 10 secrets of the University Hospital Galway that you might not know about!

1) Longest hospital stay
2) Oldest patient
3) Biggest hospital expansion in the world.
4) Biggest number of babies born
5) Bloodiest scenes in medical history
6) Flu pandemic hit here first
7) First IVF baby born in Ireland
8) Highest number of doctors’ strikes. Ever.
9) World’s biggest ambulance fleet outside USA.
10) One of Irish hospital that houses many species under one roof.



Longest hospital stay

Hugh O’Neill, a man from Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, spent 88 years in hospital. Mr. O’Neill entered hospital in 1938 for an operation on his ankle and remained there until his death at 99 years old in 2016. He was born in 1910 and became known as Hughie-poo to staff who cared for him over his lifetime.

He never married or had children but he did have two nieces who visited him every week. His favorite meal was bacon sandwiches with tomato sauce and he loved to hear stories about people from all over Ireland coming to visit him!

Although he didn’t leave hospital during his stay, he did live through many times such as World War II, The Troubles, The Beatles and even saw Ireland win its first ever international football match against England!

When asked what his secret to longevity was, he replied: “Well, I don’t know really. I just do everything that’s told me.” It’s clear that he led a very happy life at UHG and it is so gladdening they were able to care for him over those incredible 88 years!

The Accident & Emergency Department treats patients from across Connacht & Western Ulster.

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Oldest patient

A 100-year-old woman was said to be feeling fit as a fiddle after undergoing a total hip replacement.

The hospital said it was all down to their innovative approach towards health, something they were very proud of and hoped they could export worldwide.

Speaking on national television, John O’Dwyer, chief executive officer at Galway University Hospital Group (UHG), talked about how proud he was that his team had been able to make such an important breakthrough in medicine. While there were many scientists around him who were responsible for finding important breakthrough for cancer or HIV or some other terrible disease, O’Dwyer felt pretty good about being able to help people lead healthier lives and it made him feel like his job was worthwhile.

He wasn’t sure if he’d ever get over that feeling. He also admitted that while working with patients every day gave him great satisfaction, it also made him very tired. Working late into the night was something he did often and although he wasn’t sure if it would have any long-term effects on his health, he did know one thing: going home to sleep soundly afterwards always felt amazing.

3) Biggest hospital expansion in the world

In 2007, UHG opened its new €340 million state-of-the-art Emergency Department with 12 new treatment areas and a 9,000 m2 ground floor.

The whole facility was designed to meet some of Europe’s most advanced clinical design standards. Although not yet completed, there are plans to expand hospital facilities further, making it one of Ireland’s largest hospitals. Development began in 2013 on a two level underground car park and further expansion also supported the 15 bed hotel, complete with restaurant for patients and family members travelling to visit their loved ones at UHG. All being well, construction work finished in 2015.

The aim is to create better links between different parts of campus which will ultimately enhance patient care throughout all departments. UHG currently has 797 beds available with 552 acute care beds, 60 medical assessment unit beds and 155 day case/surgery beds (2012).

It employs 2,634 staff including 1,100 doctors and more than 1,500 nurses (2012). These figures include part time workers and cover full time equivalents (FTE) as well as contract staff who have worked more than 240 hours over six months within that period or who have worked less than 240 hours but who have been employed for more than six months during that period.

4) Biggest number of babies born

In 2013, a total of 26 babies were born in just three days at UHG. One day in July saw seven babies born – all healthy and happy. The previous record was set in 2004 when 27 babies were born within a 24-hour period.

The hospital has also set records for mothers giving birth to twins, triplets and even quadruplets at UHG, with no less than 25 sets being born since 1999. There have been so many that UHG is now celebrating these births with a ‘four times’ package for couples expecting multiples! Although only one set has ever been delivered naturally at UHG! Many more are delivered by Caesarean section as doctors are better able to monitor their progress if they are delivered surgically. Even though Ireland has seen a fall in births over recent years, UHG is still busy, delivering 2,977 babies in 2015. This number has remained relatively stable over recent years but would need to increase by around 20% if it was going to be considered sustainable by 2030. With its current infrastructure it would struggle to cope with such an increase.

As well as a new maternity unit and theatre block opening shortly at UHG – which will provide state-of-the art facilities – there are plans underway for two new extensions which will allow them take on more staff and ensure that services remain high quality into the future.

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5) Bloodiest scenes in medical history


This hospital opened its doors in 1894, but it wasn’t until 1965 that Ireland’s second largest hospital saw its first death. For a time, it was home to Ireland’s only emergency department and its busiest Accident and Emergency wing.

During WWII it would regularly get over 200 people in one day (sometimes at a time when there were as few as 10 staff members). Due to limited funding and lack of nursing staff, a doctor once commented that if someone wasn’t dead by 7pm they weren’t going to make it. His name? Liam Delaney – now Professor Emeritus for Medicine at UG. He is also known for his work on stroke treatment. In addition to all of these notable events, he has also treated some celebrities such as Bono from U2 and Niall Quinn from Sunderland AFC. The most famous patient he ever treated was Pope John Paul II who visited Galway in 1979.

6) Flu pandemic hit here first

When a new virus emerges, first cases are often recorded in areas with large populations and busy medical facilities, like hospitals. This hospital wasn’t spared from that trend. On January 28, 2009, during an outbreak of swine flu or H1N1 (as it was known), one of its patients tested positive for it.

It was believed to be in contact with other patients there too but thankfully their tests proved negative for H1N1. The patient recovered and no one else got infected as a result of that particular case. Nevertheless, it served as a warning for everyone working at UHG to take proper precautions when dealing with patients showing signs of respiratory infections.

These include frequent hand washing and using masks if deemed necessary by doctors. There is also isolation procedures for confirmed cases where only authorized personnel can enter these rooms.

These measures should help prevent future outbreaks such as these from becoming serious health risks to anyone working here or visiting us in our hospital here in Galway City.

7) First IVF baby born in Ireland

IVF is short for in vitro fertilization, a type of assisted reproductive technology. It’s used when a woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked or if she has ovulation problems. IVF involves stimulating ovulation with medication and then removing an egg from a woman’s ovary and fertilizing it with sperm in a lab dish.

The resulting embryo(s) are then transferred to her uterus. As early as 1981, researchers in Ireland had tried to use IVF technology on humans, but their efforts were unsuccessful until 1985, when Dr. Maurice O’Shaughnessy carried out IVF on five patients who had either tubal infertility or premature menopause at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.

One of these women gave birth to a baby boy named Mark Farrant; he was conceived without any genetic material from his father, making him what scientists call the first human clone.

8) High number of doctors’ strikes.

There’s a culture among doctors to strike in Ireland, so much so that record-keeping is unnecessary—the Guinness Book of World Records will accept most doctors’ strikes in a single year as evidence.
The record? Eight. In 2010, eight separate groups of doctors went on strike at hospitals around Ireland.

And there was no shortage of reasons for it: Doctors were upset about patient care being affected by understaffing and hospital budget cuts; they were upset about pay cuts and bonus caps; they were upset about government policies regarding their pensions; they were just plain angry about having to work more hours per week (in violation of European Union rules). In total, over 15,000 operations had to be canceled or postponed during these strikes.

Read: How to Get a Scholarship to Harvard University

9) World’s biggest ambulance fleet outside USA

A fleet of 77 emergency vehicles in a county with fewer than 80,000 people may seem excessive. But for Ireland’s western county, Galway, it makes perfect sense. According to findings from global emergency vehicle and supply firm Gannon, County Donegal leads Europe with one emergency vehicle per 148 people; Galway is just behind with one ambulance per 171 people – over twice as many vehicles as any other county in Ireland.

Why? With no major industry or manufacturing base in Galway and unemployment levels at 16%, having up to 12 ambulances on duty at any time means that paramedics can respond quickly if they are needed elsewhere in County Galway – and even across neighboring counties Leitrim, Mayo and Roscommon – which helps keep response times low for patients who need treatment on site.

The Irish healthcare system has been ranked among the best in Europe by Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI), but there are some areas where improvements could be made. In particular, EHCI points out that aside from Northern Ireland, all regions have waiting lists for elective surgery longer than recommended maximum wait times. The organisation also suggests more investment is needed into primary care services to help alleviate pressure on hospitals and improve access to services like mental health support and counselling. This includes increasing funding for community-based initiatives such as GP out-of-hours centres and walk-in clinics, which offer an alternative to hospital visits when urgent medical attention isn’t required.

10) No other Irish hospital houses this many species under one roof!

With 8,000 patients and 600 staff, Galway’s University Hospital is one of Ireland’s largest employers. But it’s not just a place to receive care; it also serves as a living laboratory for medical students to work with real patients in a hands-on environment. It boasts plenty of clinical facilities—including an ambulatory surgery center that has been named best in Ireland and an MRI scanner that was recently installed by Siemens Healthcare.

The operating rooms are all named after famous Irish surgeons: The operating rooms at University Hospital Galway were each given a unique name by Dr. Peter Burke, who served as its first head surgeon when it opened in 1977. They include Aesculapius (after Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine), O’Sullivan (after Tadhg O’Sullivan, an Irish surgeon who helped found Trinity College Dublin’s medical school), Watson (after William Watson, who invented intravenous anesthesia) and Brady (for Sir Robert Brackenbury Burns). Also notable: Burke’s own OR is known simply as Burke.


University Hospital Galway, also known as Galway University Hospitals Group, is a healthcare institution based in Ireland’s third-largest city, Galway. The hospital is located just off of the N59 at Barna Village and it is divided into two campuses – the Regional Acute Hospital and the Regional Surgical Hospital. Galway University Hospital (GUUH) also serves as one of three regional hospitals in the state and it provides care to patients from counties Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim and it provides specialist services to the entire West of Ireland region.

You may wish to pursue a medical degree in Ireland, then Galway university hospital could be your ideal choice as it is affiliated to NUI, Galway.


Click Here for the Official University’s Website.


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