Gilmartin, Thomas James (1905–86), anaesthetist, was born 29 September 1905 in Ballymote, Co. Sligo, son of James Gilmartin, shopkeeper and JP, and his first wife Margaret (‘Rita’) Gilmartin (née Coghlan). He was educated at Summerhill College, Sligo, Belvedere College, Dublin, and RCSI, before being admitted licentiate of the RCPI & SI (1929); he was awarded a diploma in anaesthetics RCPSI (1943), and fellowships from the Faculty of Anaesthetics RCS, England (1949), and RCSI (1960). After gaining clinical experience in English hospitals, he was appointed assistant anaesthetist (1932) and subsequently consultant anaesthetist (1946) at Mercer's Hospital, Dublin. He was invited to join the medical board (1969), formerly the preserve of the honorary medical staff, and was elected as a non-voting member of the board of governors. He resigned (1983) on the closure of the hospital.
As early as the 1930s he appreciated the necessity of developing anaesthetics as a scientific speciality; the first doctor in Ireland to use curare, he was a major influence in raising standards and spearheaded the movement in Ireland for the use of fully trained, full-time anaesthetists in operating theatres. He was chairman of the IMA's Anaesthetists' Group, which produced the seminal Report on the anaesthetic services (1950); as chairman of a steering committee, he played a critical role in the founding of the Faculty of Anaesthetists of the RCSI (1959), of which he was the first dean, examiner, and the first to occupy a chair of anaesthetics in Ireland on his appointment as associate professor in 1965. President of the Biological Society of RCPSI (1950), and of the Graduates Association RCSI (1961, 1962), he was elected hon. FRCSI (1974), and honoured by the inauguration of the college's annual Gilmartin lecture in 1985. He was consultant to the Dublin Dental Hospital, the City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital, and Peamount Sanatorium, Newcastle, Co. Dublin, and contributed articles to medical journals. A founder member (1932), council member, and vice-president of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, he was awarded its highest honour, the John Snow silver medal (1985). A fellow of the RAMI and president of the anaesthetics section, he was elected president of the London Irish Hospitals Graduates Association, and of the Association of Dental Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland.
Known as ‘Tommy’, entertaining and a man of great charm, he was an art collector, and lived at 32 Lower Baggot St., Dublin. He died 22 June 1986 in Dublin, where he was buried in Glasnevin cemetery. He married Margaret (‘Peggy’) Motherwell Maiben (died 1998); they had one son, John Maiben Gilmartin, art historian.