The book, called Saddlebag Surgeon: The story of Dr. Murrough O’Brien, has been making the rounds in my family for years simply because our family and his family intermingled briefly in the late 1800s in southern Manitoba.
Although there are many fascinating moments described in the book, the real drama, in my mind, hinges on his patrilineal family line, who are descendants of Irish royalty.
At the time of his birth in 1867, his uncle was the Baron Inchiquin of Dromoland Castle in County Clare. Even the current Baron Inchiquin, Conor Myles O’Brien is a descendent of the original King of Ireland, Brian Boru.
With such a pedigree came privilege and status although Murrough lost both when he failed his final exam at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in 1888 and was essentially banished from the family.
With nowhere to go, he ventured to Canada, finished his medical degree in Winnipeg, and started a country practice that lasted for 60 years.
In addition to his alleged encounter with Jack the Ripper in 1888 as a med student (you can read about it here), another of his famous encounters was with Tommy Douglas who was an adolescent patient of his for a spell. Douglas would go on to pioneer Canada’s medicare system and was also the father of Shirley Douglas, a well-known actress here in Canada. Shirley, of course, married Donald Sutherland in 1966 and Kiefer was born that same year at — of all places — St. Mary’s Hospital in London. The same teaching hospital that Doc O’Brien had attended 80 years prior.
When I had learned that Tommy Douglas was featured in Doc O’Brien’s biography, I immediately thought of Kiefer Sutherland as a potential lead to play Murrough if my decades-long effort to adapt the book into a screenplay ever took off. I think he would have a personal interest in the project plus there’s a distinct similarity between the two men as seen above.
How does Queen tie into all this? I stumbled across this little treasure in the trivia section of his IMDb profile:
It seems to me that one huge Queen fan is keen to have another huge Queen fan participate in a project whose main character crosses paths with both of our families years ago. Add in the fact that St. Mary’s Hospital is an affiliate of Imperial College . . . and the stars have aligned.
Now, how do I get him a copy of Saddlebag Surgeon so we can get this show on the road?