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Would you like a present of a racehorse?


There was a famous surgeon in Cork called P.K Kiely who was a great friend of my fathers and was probably the most loved and respected medical people ever in Cork. Today I am going to tell you a few stories about him, as in my view his book should have been written and I am just afraid that some of the great stories about him might get lost. 

He was a golfer and a race horse owner and a very famous and renowned surgeon who according to my Dad was a general surgeon who sorted out problems in all areas of the body.

He had a gentle way with him but had a roguish side to him and even though he was probably 60 years older than me we often played golf and in his later years when he was over 90 years of age, if Vincent O’ Brien or his nephew John Kiely the trainer in Dungarvan had a horse running, he would often walk the mile or more from his house in the Douglas Road to my office in The South Mall for a chat about the likely outcome of the race.

He once owned a horse called Dominick’s Bar who won the Irish Grand National but had many other horses that didn’t run so fast and a nice saying attributed to him was “If you don’t like someone and you want to do them serious financial harm give them a present of a racehorse, and if that doesn’t fix them then give them another one”!

The first time he attended the Cheltenham racing festival in March he was accompanied by Mick Sheehan the wealthy Cork coal merchant who introduced him to William Hill the renowned and very profitable UK bookmaker. Mick said “this is Dr Kiely from Cork and Mr Hill he is good for whatever bets he wants to make” 

According to my Dad who was in their party it was about the 4th race before PK decided to have a bet with Hill and the horse whose name I don’t recall was priced at 7 to 2. In other words you put on 2 to win 7. PK said to Hill that he would have 2 on the horse to win 7. Hill to his clerk says £200 to win £700 for Dr Kiely. No no says PK its £2,000 to win £7,000. Now back in the 1960’s this was an extraordinary large bet.

Having placed his bet PK walked away and then out of interest and devilment and natural curiosity looked back to see if Hill had shortened the odds on the horse as a result of his substantial bet. Hill saw PK turn around but out of bravado and to show the man from Cork that his bet was really chicken feed to him; instead of shortening the odds he changed the price from 7/2 to 4 to 1.

Well if he did PK got a bit insulted and retraced his steps and said quietly and firmly “in that case Mr Hill I will have another £ 2,000 on to win £8,000 this time.”

And yes this nice story had a happy outcome and there was a good bit of Sterling brought home on the boat to Cork that year.

Another day they were travelling by train to a race meeting at the Curragh and decided to have a game of poker to pass the time. They were 6 of them playing jackpot poker which meant you needed a pair of Jacks or better to “open the pot” to play.

Everyone playing put in ten shillings (50% of an old Irish pound) each time. It wasn’t opened on the first dealing so everybody put in the same stake again and in fact nobody opened the next two or three times with either queens nor kings and then PK decided he would check the kitty to make sure the correct amount was on the table.

Well as you will have guessed the kitty was short and PK asked everyone were they in and all said yes that they were. There was a pause and then PK picked up all the money on the table and opened the sliding window that used to be on the old trains and threw the lot out the window where it fluttered gently in the wind to the shocked silence of all and said. “Well now we will start again as nobody is going to be playing for my money unless they are in themselves”

Nobody argued and nobody was shy again!

When he was very old and frail I remember Liam Higgins the wonderful professional golfer at Waterville who used to caddy for PK at Little Island. I went to visit PK in a nursing home in Rochestown and whilst PK wasn’t sure who I was his face lit up when he saw that Liam was visiting him. In those days when Liam used to caddy for him PK would often have walked from Douglas to Little Island about 7 miles and then would play 36 holes. He might then take a lift home if he was tired!

I met his son P.B.Kiely at Mallow races a few years later and asked about PK. Well he said “As you know he is in a nursing home but he is doing well. He will be 101 in two months time and he wants to get to 101 to show us all that getting to 100 wasn’t a fluke!”

He was buried the morning of his 101st birthday!

Ted Dwyer Family Business

January 2014

Ted Dwyer is the Founding Director of City Life Wealth Advisors a family business in Cork

By |2017-01-30T12:53:48+00:00January 15th, 2014|Categories: Golf Story, Racing stories, Uncategorized|3 Comments

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  1. Greg Canty 15th January 2014 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    that’s a really gorgeous story Ted – we need our characters. I would have loved to spend some time with PK and your dad…. I’m guessing it would have been fun!

    Keep the great stories coming ..

    • teddwyercitylife 16th January 2014 at 10:34 am - Reply

      Thanks Greg they were also mad bastards at times!

      Ted Dwyer CFP(r) Founder Director City Life Wealth Advisors Nore House Bessboro Road Blackrock Cork Ireland

      T: +353 21 4358533 F: +353 21 4358556 Meteor Cork Financial Services Firm of the Year 2007 City Life Ltd., t/a City Life Wealth Advisors is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland and is a company limited by shares, registered in Ireland with the number 33613. The information transmitted in this email is intended for the addressee only and may contain confidential and/or privileged material. Any review, retransmission, dissemination, reliance upon or other use of, this information by persons or entities other than the addressee is prohibited. If you received this in error, please contact the sender and delete the material. If you are planning to print this email please give thought to the environment.

  2. Aidan Coffey 26th August 2017 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    PK (my granduncle – died on 29th January 1998) was born in Moonakirka near Stradbally, Co.Waterford to John and Mary Ann Kiely. He went to school in Stradbally National School and to St Augustine’s College, Dungarvan, and qualified in medicine in UCC in 1920 and gained his fellowship in Surgery in London. Subsequently, he was appointed Consultant to the South Infirmary, Mercy and Bons Secours Hospitals. Some years later, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland made him an Honorary fellow (FRCSI). Like many medics of his time, he cut his teeth on the human debris of the War of Independence and The Civil War. In 1924, he married Christina Curtin of Rathcormac, Co. Cork and had nine children. Two of his sons followed their father into surgery, while a third became a Professor in Moral Theology in Rome. PK began as a surgeon in the pre-antibiotic era, at a time when anaesthetics were either chloroform or ether, so the avoidance of infection required great surgical skill and nursing care. He was Professor of Surgery at UCC for 30 years until his retirement from office in 1968. Afterwards, he continued his general surgical practice until well into his seventies. His brother John Kiely, who died in 1996, was also a surgeon in Cork during the same era. PK’s book, Textbook of Surgery was first published in 1949 and his spur to the less energetic student as some suitable reading material was to have a read of “The Book”. He had a great interest in sport, having played college club and inter county football. He played a good game of gold off a single figure handicap and was a past captain of Lahinch and Cork Golf Clubs. He enjoyed nothing better than a good fourball for a little wager with a shot to save and the post mortem in the 19th. Horse-racing and ownership with a tilt at the bookies played a big part in his life. His racing colours of (Waterford’s) blue and white was sported on the flat and over jumps from Tramore to Fairyhouse and from the Curragh to Aintree. His own horse Dominic’s Bar ridden by Martin Moloney and trained by Tim Hyde won the Irish Grand National in 1950, while Cabin Fire whom he felt was his best, ridden by Tim Hyde was brought down when “flying” according to himself at Valentine’s in the Grand National of 1938 (won by Battleship (B. Hobbs)). The incident with the game of cards on the train happened on the way back from the Curragh near Watergrasshill: he felt that the man repairing the line might be in greater need of a few bob. An extremely kind, out-spoken, generous and religious man, PK outlived all of his contemporaries by many years. At 90, he still walked from Douglas to Holy Trinity for Mass each day.

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