Local doctor had a remarkable life

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Dr Raymond Clean was known throughout Derry for his tireless work for the people of the city through his roles as a GP, civil rights campaigner, and politician but his achievements went far beyond these activities.

He was also an author, professional footballer and boxer, a lifelong friend of renowned Irish novelist and commentator, Ulick O’Connor.

His RAF career also took him to the Persian Gulf where he developed an interest in the people of Iraq which would remain with him for the rest of his life.

As a young medical student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, the Derry man discovered his passion for sport, taking the unusual step for a medical student of taking up boxing.

He proved successful as a boxer, winning the Irish university championship three times during his student years.

As well as boxing, Dr McClean was also a talented footballer and played for his college in the Irish university football league.

He excelled in both sports and at one stage competed in both league competitions in the same week. It was during his time at the university boxing club that he met Ulick O’Connor and the pair struck-up a lifelong friendship.

After graduating from university, the Derry doctor moved to Wales where he continued his sporting success, playing professional football for Hollyhead Town and Carnarvan.

He returned to Derry in the early 1960s and took up a job in the newly built Altnagelvin hospital and married his wife, Sheila, in 1961.

He did not remain in the city long, however, joining the RAF and moving to Persian Gulf. Speaking about his time with the RAF, Dr McClean said; “It was hard work and I saw some terrible sights.”

He left the service after three years with a parting gift of £750 which he used to set up a medical practice when he returned to Derry.

On his return to the city, he took up a position as the medical officer at Du Pont and learned about the effects of chemical on the human body. That knowledge was to prove useful in the following years when CS gas was used on the streets for the first time.

After seven years in Du Pont, Dr McClean went into a partnership with Dr McDermott, Dr McCabe, and Dr Devlin. Their surgery was in Great James’ Street, close to where the health centre now stands.

Seven years later he set up his own practice, taking over from Jimmy O’Donnell. By this stage the Troubles had started, and Dr McClean was often in the front line.

“I was doing what I always wanted to so I was happy but the calls at night during the Troubles were awful. We always knew if the army were raiding in Creggan that there would be at least four or five call outs for me that night,” he said.

Dr McClean’s widow, Sheila, was also involved in the civil rights campaign alongside her husband and designed the famous logo of the movement using oak leaves.