Gems of wisdom, not only for the medical student, but for us all

Dr. Dom Colbert has dedicated most of his working life to medical work on the missions in Africa and other global hotspots. He is a renowned expert of tropical diseases and continues to lecture on the subject. He belies his 83 years and is a daily all-year-round swimmer in Galway. His two new books, an Irish Doctor’s Odyssey and No Tears Left reflect in great detail a very extraordinary life.


A Review by Uinseann Mac Thómais

It is a wonderful gift to know your own mind. From a very early age Dr. Dom Colbert knew and owned his. That is clearly demonstrated in his two new books an Irish Doctor’s Odyssey and No Tears Left  published by Orpen press.

Dr. Dom knows how to tell a story. His books combine to tell extraordinary anecdotes from his life. These spellbinding stories make you laugh, cry and angry. They will also terrorise and disturb you. (Warning! some of the medical pictures included in the books are not for the faint-hearted.)

An Irish Doctor’s Odyssey chronicles the doctor’s early years in his home county of Waterford and brings us in a very easy-read manner through his formative years. His schooling and education is well documented also. His mother, a great influence on his life, was way ahead of her time as a feminist. His father was a solicitor and avid reader was also a huge influence on the young Dom.

What is simple and very readable is his style of writing. On occasion however you may need to have a dictionary to hand. All the anecdotes are given titles and are easy to find if you wish to revisit any of them. The Holy Frog, an anecdote from Canada was a particular joyous favourite, but at the other end of the spectrum you have the awful tragedy of the pregnant woman who is dead….

There is one quote from the preface of No Tears Left with which I profoundly disagree. It says:

“Finally, I warn you not to look for anything more than what I tell or  you may be disappointed for it is a simple story that carries no great philosophical message.“

Both books are peppered with philosophical messages, insights of man’s humanity and inhumanity, and gems of wisdom, not only for the medical student, but for us all.

If ever two books were destined for a best sellers’ list these are two prime examples. I think we can look forward to Dr. Dom telling some of his stories on the Late Late Show or having more than a chat with Pat Kenny.  It would be a grievous error of omission on our broadcasters’ part, were it not to be so.


© Uinseann Mac Thómais

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