Kevin Cahill links art, medicine, politics in amazing fashion. Photo by: YouTube

Irish American doctor who opens a door to a much wider world


Kevin Cahill links art, medicine, politics in amazing fashion. Photo by: YouTube

There are few more rewarding times than spending an afternoon with New York-based Doctor Kevin Cahill former President General of the American Irish Historical Society but for the purposes of this article the Professor of Humanitarian Affairs at the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland

He has written a new book called ” The Open Door,” subtitled “Art and Foreign Policy at the RCSI.”

Surely art and foreign policy have little in common? Not so as you will realize after reading this beautifully bound book.

Saying Kevin Cahill has written a new book is rather like saying the Yankees are due up to bat again. It is something he does well, frequently and with great zest.

His enthusiasm for dozens of topics is infectious (excuse the pun) A Renaissance man he remains as curious and interested in the world around him as he was when I first met him 30 years ago.

At an age of 77 where many might be eying the retirement couch he charges ahead with life, writing books, lecturing, working as a physician whose patients have included popes and presidents but most of all as a man with insatiable curiosity about how the world works and how it might be made better.

His new book reflects this.

For 36 years Cahill was the Professor of Tropical Medicine at the college but much more that that, he was a world renowned humanitarian who worked at the coal face in numerous international tragedies such as Somalia and other desperate places.

The intersection of politics, art and medicine is rarely enough explored but never better than in this book, which has a spectacular illustration by Louis Le Brocquy and is beautifully designed by Massino Vignelli

The lectures contained were all given at the RCSI under Cahill’s tutelage and his commitment to combining the best aspects of art, medicine and politics is clear. He made the connection to the benefit of all.

Seamus Heaney's lecture is there as is those of former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, actress Vanessa Redgrave among others.

Those names alone give the breath of Cahill’s relationships, a fact much commented upon.

Indeed when the book was launched in Dublin at Iveagh House, home of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Niall Burgess Secretary General of the Department stated

“You cannot put Kevin in a box and know with any assurance he will stay there.

“He is a physician, a humanitarian, a writer, editor and book lover an Arabist and a gardener. He is also a proud Irish American."

Burgess pointed out that by opening the door to so many great speakers and creating a new linkage between medicine and politics, Cahill had opened a whole new chapter.

“This legacy is a profound one” Burgess stated. For that we are in your debt Kevin."

Indeed we are.

Typically, all sales of the book will go to help humanitarian workers.

“The Open Door” is available from The Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation 850 Fifth Avenue New York 212 636 6294


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