Donaghy, John Patrick (1919–87), physician, was born 4 March 1919 in Holywood, Co. Down, the son of Matthew George Donaghy, an officer in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and Julia Donaghy (née Brady). Educated at QUB, he graduated MB, B.Ch., BA in 1943. After being rejected for service with the RAMC on medical grounds, he worked for a short time as a general practitioner. His first hospital appointment was at the Mater Infirmorum Hospital, Belfast (1944), but he moved soon afterwards to Crumpsall Hospital, Manchester, where he worked for two years (1945–7). Following a short period at the Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith, he became chief assistant in medicine at the Sheffield Royal Infirmary, but in 1948 returned to Belfast on appointment to the consultant staff of the Mater Infirmorum Hospital. He remained on the staff there until his retirement (1984), while also working as a clinical lecturer and examiner in medicine at QUB.
As a doctor Donaghy was popular among staff and patients because of his courtesy and consideration, and he was widely appreciated as a dedicated teacher. He was equally well known for his achievements outside of his profession, and he represented the nationalist community as a university senator in the upper house of the Stormont parliament (1953–68), where he was deputy speaker (1955–7). During this time he often drew attention to the difficulties experienced at the Mater Infirmorum Hospital on account of its exclusion from the National Health Service. A Gaelic scholar, he spoke the language fluently and was also interested in Celtic art and in encouraging youth, which he did through his work as commissioner of the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (1971). In many ways his personality was defined by his strong religious beliefs, and he spent much of his spare time involved in community and church activities. He was a marriage counsellor for the Down and Connor Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, of which he was also a founder member. After his retirement Donaghy acted as honorary advisor to the Northern Ireland hospice (1984–7), and at the time of his death he was chairman of the Down and Connor branch of the Irish Association of Catholic Doctors. In 1986 he was acknowledged for his contributions to society by the award of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal by Pope John Paul II.
Throughout his career Donaghy favoured clinical teaching over research, and he was associated with an insistence on the importance of medicine taught at the bedside. He taught courses on medical ethics and the philosophy of medicine at QUB, where his habit of speaking slowly, deliberately, and formally at all times was well known. Though he was not particularly concerned with the trappings of his profession, he was a fellow of both the RCP (1970) and of the RCPI (1979). He was married to Una (1947) and they had seven children – five daughters and two sons. After a long period of ill health, Donaghy died 2 October 1987 while on holiday in Spain.