Irish missionary nun, Sister Hilary Lyons, a native of Mayo, has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Public Health by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. Sister Hilary is a Holy Rosary Missionary and was nominated for the fellowship by Dr Margaret Fitzgerald, who delivered the citation on her behalf during a recent ceremony in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. The award was given to Sister Hilary in recognition of her contributions to health services in Sierra Leone, where she worked for 42 years.
Born in Mayo in 1924, Sister Hilary entered the convent immediately after completing her Leaving Certificate in 1943, and went on to study medicine in UCD. At the age of 29 she was posted to Sierra Leone, in a small rural clinic in Serabu, which served a population of 40,000 people. In 1954, the Holy Rosary Sisters took charge of the clinic in Serabu, which later became a hospital under Sister Hilary’s guide. A second hospital was later set up by the Holy Rosary Sisters in Panguma, in the eastern province of Sierra Leone.
Sister Hilary also acted as President of the Sierra Leone – Ireland Partnership, leading a delegation in 2003 to meet the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs seeking to have Sierra Leone added as a priority country in the Irish Aid programme.
In her citation proposing Sister Hilary for Honorary fellowship, Dr Margaret Fitzgerald said, “Sr Hilary exemplifies the best of her generation and our in medicine and is an inspiration to many of us who worked in global and public health.”
“The Faculty of Public Health Medicine, and more recently the whole of the RCPI has embraced and supports global health initiatives – many of us here worked in resource poor countries and were inspired by people such as Sister Hilary … It is therefore very fitting, President, that we recommend Sister (Dr) Lyons to you for the award of Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the RCPI.”