Mrs Una McCann from Athboy was among 140 vets recently honoured by the Veterinary Council of Ireland in recognition of more than 50 years service to the industry. Mrs McCann was the only female vet to receive the accolade at a function in the RDS that was attended by President Mary McAleese last week.
The Veterinary Council of Ireland were celebrating World Veterinary Year which commemorates the 250th anniversary of the birth of the veterinary profession worldwide.
The RDS was a most fitting venue for the event as the place where many of those gathered had embarked on their veterinary careers, and from whence in 1800 the Dublin Society, now the RDS was responsible for setting up the Veterinary Institute to provide the first form of veterinary training in this country.
To mark the auspicious occasion, the Veterinary Council of Ireland presented 140 memorial medals to registered vets with over 50 years service to the profession. They came from all corners of Ireland, including 12 twelve vets from Northern Ireland.
President McAleese awarded two very special gold medals to the oldest living vets on the veterinary register- 98 year old Mr Jack Powell from Nenagh who graduated in 1936 and Mr James Tyrell of Portlaoise who registered to practice in 1944.
In her address to the group, President McAleese commented that long before cross border cooperation became common currency, vets from all parts of Ireland trained in Dublin, ensuring strong friendships and a well integrated professional network across the whole island.
"We are indebted to veterinarians for the work they do in the prevention and control of infectious diseases, including those transmissible to humans; in food production, food safety and secure animal traceability.
"We are indebted for the research that has advanced both human and animal healthcare and for the diligence and vigilance which are an essential part of the infrastructure that allows us enjoy safe food at home and to be a major exporter of dairy and meat products," said President McAleese.
The day began with an opening speech by Dr Lindy Vaughan, President of the Veterinary Council of Ireland, in which she briefly recounted the history of the vetinerary profession. She remembered the founding father, Frenchman Claude Bougelat who in 1761 set up the first Veterinary School in Lyon.
Dr Vaughan went on to provide a potted history of the establishment and growth of veterinary schooling in Ireland from its inception in 1800 to the formation of the Royal Veterinary College in 1900 and then the introduction of specialist departments in both UCD and TCD in the late 1950's.
University College Dublin has, since 1977, been solely responsible for veterinary training in Ireland. Today, it houses a state of the art facility. The vet training facility at UCD is one of only nine outside the USA to receive accreditation from the AVMA which is the global gold standard in veterinary education.
Alongside the building of the new veterinary school at UCD, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has also constructed a world class veterinary laboratory at Backweston.