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24 September 2014
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Scouse Characters -
Dr. Jerome Connolly l906 - 1963

Dr Connolly
Dr Connolly

Dr. Jerome Connolly arrived in England l from Cork in 1932. He worked in hospitals and doctors' surgeries in Birmingham, Sheffield and elsewhere, before returning to Liverpool, where he immediately felt at home.

He opened his first practice in Juvenal Street in 1936, in Everton, to help poverty stricken local people who were living hand to mouth.

During the 1930s, unemployment had reached new highs; people were desperate for work. And of course, with no Welfare State, families suffered severe hardship. During those years, for a doctor to waive his fees for treating children with diseases and malnutrition took great courage and compassion. Jerome Connolly had that compassion. He treated whole families, and there were many times he left money - which he could rarely afford - hidden on the mantelpieces, so mothers could provide their children with a square meal, without losing their dignity and pride.

Dr Connolly
The Connolly Wedding

When the second World War broke out, Dr. Connolly enlisted in the British army, as a medical officer, later becoming a captain in the medical corps.

In 1943, he took part in the Allied Anzio landings in Southern Italy, where he was captured. After some months he escaped, making his way to the Apennines and the safety of the Italian partisans. There he made use of his expertise, learning Italian, attending the wounded, delivering babies and yet again, treating people for malnutrition. A hero amongst the partisans and their families, he was referred to as the "Englishman with red hair". He always corrected them, politely, reminding them of his Irish birthright.

After six months of freedom he was recaptured and again incarcerated with other "undesirables" who dared defy German authority. Under appalling conditions, his weight plummeted to seven stone.

Dr Connolly
A family occasion

At the end of hostilities, with no family to greet him, he stepped off the train at Lime Street station. No bands playing, no crowds cheering - just his friend and partner Dr. Goldberg, who didn't recognise the stooped and skeletal figure of his colleague.

His former surgery was long gone, bombed during the May Blitz, but Jerome rebuilt his life and his practice. With the Welfare State in place, he had over 7,000 patients on his books. He reluctantly advertised for a partner - "no lady doctor need apply". But Dr. Catherine Foley did apply. She got the job - and a marriage proposal - within a week. The Connolly clan grew to seven children, most of whom are in the medical profession today.

The father of the Connolly clan devoted his life to the care of the people of Everton. He had a special interest in obstetrics, delivering most of the babies in the district. He was a pioneer in many ways, bringing in new techniques and equipment - like a ventouse to aid difficult deliveries - so that local people would have the most up to date medical facilities.

He died in 1963, leaving a fine legacy - a community practice that is still be run today, by one of his daughters, in Islington Square, Everton.

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