History of The Sir Peter Freyer Surgical Symposium

Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture & Surgical Symposium

The Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture & Surgical Symposium is hosted annually on the first weekend of September by the Department of Surgery, NUI Galway. Professor Sean O’Beirn established this conference in 1975 and was succeeded by Professor HF Given. It is currently hosted by Professors Oliver McAnena and Michael Kerin.

It is the largest surgical conference in Ireland and is open to all surgical disciplines both nationally and internationally.

The Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture & Surgical Symposium provides a platform for healthcare professionals to present their research and clinical work and allows for the merging of both scientific and clinical information. Abstracts are published in a supplement to the Irish Journal of Medical Science.

Each year the Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Medal is awarded to the best original research paper (chosen from the Plenary Session). A poster prize is also awarded. Participants at the Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture and Surgical Symposium are eligible for CPD credits. 


Sir Peter Freyer

K.C.B., M.D., M.Ch., M.A. (Hons. Caus.), L.L.D. (Hons. Caus.)

1851 Born – July 2nd, first son of Samuel Freyer, Salerna, Connemara, Co Galway and his wife Celia Burke
Educated – Erasmus Smith College, Galway (Galway Grammar School) and Queen’s College, Galway
1869 Entered Science section of Faculty of Arts, Queen’s College, Galway
1872 B.A., First Class Honours and Gold Medal, Queen’s College, Galway Headed list of scholars in Science Division of Faculty of Arts, 1869-70, 70-71, 71-72
1873 Senior Scholarship in Chemistry, Faculty of Arts, Queen’s College, Galway.  Resident pupil, Dr. Stephen’s Hospital, Dublin
1874 Graduated Queen’s College, Galway, M.D., M.Ch., with Scholarship, Gold Medal and First Class Honours.  Was awarded Gold Medal in Diploma of Obstetrics examination, and Senior Scholarship in Natural Philosophy, Faculty of Arts
1875 First Place, Indian Medical Service (I.M.S.)
1886 M.A. – Royal University of Ireland (Hons. Caus.)
1887 Surgeon Major, I.M.S.
1894 Delegate from the Indian Government to the International Medical Congress at Rome where he presented a paper “Eight hundred and Fifty-two Operations for Stone in the Bladder”.  In 598 patients the bladder stones were removed by transurethral lithopaxy using the method of Bigelow with an astonishingly low mortality for that time of 1.84%.  This contrasted to a mortality of 12.5% for lithotomy (open operation) popular at that time in British Hospitals
1895 Lieutenant-Colonel, I.M.S.
1896 Retired from the I.M.S. with Honorary rank of Colonel
1897 Elected to the staff of St Peter’s Hospital for Stone, London
1900 Performed first enucleative prostatectomy on John Thomas who lived in the Birdkeeper’s Lodge, in St James’ Park, London
1901 Published first four cases of Prostatectomy, (BMJ 11,125: 1901)
1904 Awarded the Arnott Memorial Medal for Surgical Research by the Irish Medical Schools and Graduates Association
1912 Published first 1,000 cases of Prostatectomy (BMJ 11,869: 1912); he had a mortality of only 3% in his last 200 cases
1914 Re-joined the I.M.S. but worked in England in Queen Alexandra Military Hospital, Millbank, in the Eastern Command
1917 Commander of the Order of Bath.  Knight’s Commander of the Order of Bath
1919 Retired from the I.M.S.
L.L.D. University College, Galway (Hons. Caus.)
1920 Elected first President in Section of Urology of the Royal Society of Medicine
1921 On 9th September, Sir Peter died at 27 Harley Street, London and was buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Clifden

Sir Peter married Isabelle McVittie, daughter of Robert McVittie of Dublin.  They had one son – Dermot Johnston and one daughter – Kathleen Mary.  Isabelle died in 1914.  Grandson Michael died in 2002.  Grandson Patrick is living in Ireland.

Published Books:
Litholapaxy, 1885, with enlarged edition in 1886 and 1896.
Stone of the Bladder, 1900.
Stricture of the Urethra and Enlargement of the Prostate, 1901.  3rd Edition 1906.
Surgical Disease of the Urinary Organs, 1908.
Articles on Disease of the Prostate and Vesical Calculus in Burghard’s Operative Surgery, Vol. III, 1907.