October 9, 2015

Our sympathies to family of Austin Darragh, founder of the Irish Cancer Society

The Irish Cancer Society is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Professor Austin Darragh, founder of the Irish Cancer Society.

Professor Darragh set up the Conquer Cancer Campaign which later became the Irish Cancer Society in 1963.  Working as a GP at the time, Professor Darragh became interested in the incidence of skin cancer in Ireland.

He noted the high number of cases in skin cancer in Ireland and recognised that this disease was both visible and curable if caught early, and yet nothing was being done to educate the public. He gathered a number of people together and they established the Irish Cancer Society with a view to educating the public around the importance of early detection.

Aside from his work at the Society, Professor Darragh had an extensive career as a practising physician. He set up Leo Laboratories in the 1950s as well as a clinical research company.

Later in his career, Professor Darragh was a Professor in the University of Limerick where he was working on the energy potential of biomass. He also published a collection of essays called ‘The Facts of Life’, as well as having a part-time career in broadcasting.

Professor Darragh served on the Board of Directors of the Society for several years, and he continued to maintain close contact with the Society until his death. His vision in setting up the Irish Cancer Society, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, has had a lasting, positive impact on public health in Ireland.  

Austin Darragh will be greatly missed by his colleagues and friends at the Society and we extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Anna and family. May he rest in peace.