Meade, Henry Sords (1884–1952), surgeon, was born in December 1884 in Amoy, South China, the son of Henry John Meade and his wife Mary Josephine Meade. At the time of his birth the family was based in China, where his father worked in the imperial civil service, but they returned to Dublin when he was young. He was educated in Dublin at the Carmelite school, Terenure College, and later studied medicine at the Catholic University medical school, Cecilia Street, where he distinguished himself as a first-class student, winning the chancellor's gold medal in his final year, graduating LRCSI (1909) and taking his fellowship the following year.
Meade was assistant surgeon to St Vincent's Hospital (1913–27), but at the outbreak of the first world war, he joined the French army medical service. Stationed in the south of France with the 17th army, he remained there for a year and acquired much experience in surgery. He was awarded the medal of the Reconnaissance Française for his war service, and was later made a chevalier of the Légion d'honneur (1936). He left the French army and joined the RAMC (1915–16) with the rank of captain; he returned to the front, and treated casualties at the battle of the Somme.
After the war his surgical practice in Ireland expanded rapidly. In 1919–20 he was consulting surgeon to the White Cross Society, an organisation set up to assist the families of Volunteers. In 1923 or 1924 he was appointed consulting surgeon to the army medical service of the new Irish Free State. He succeeded John McArdle (qv) as surgeon at St Vincent's in 1927, also succeeding him in the chair of systemic surgery at UCD (1928–52), which he held jointly with H. L. Barniville (qv). Although he was devoted to the college, the department did not flourish under his leadership: he failed to promote research and few papers were published during his tenure. However, he maintained a steady stream of his own papers, publishing in the Irish Journal of Medical Science and British journals between 1926 and 1951 on a variety of subjects relating to abdominal surgery. A member of several European and international surgical groups, Meade was awarded an honorary M.Ch. (UCD) in 1934, the same year in which he was appointed consulting surgeon at the National Maternity Hospital. A fellow of RAMI, he served as president of the RCSI (1948–50) and then as president of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (1950).
As a lecturer Meade was competent; though he advised his students to be warm and concerned as physicians he was himself intimidating to his undergraduates. However, he was a first-class surgeon and his excellent bedside manner, together with a well-developed sense of responsibility for his patients, was an inspiration to his students. His catchphrases were as famous as his sharp tongue, most notably: ‘Eyes first and a lot, hands next and a little, tongue not at all’ (Lyons, 1984, 117). His large circle of friends, which included William Doolin (qv), knew him as Harry and they held him in high esteem as a loyal colleague, whose integrity, devotion to his work, and frankness endeared him to them. He worked hard and spent his vacations travelling to centres of surgical excellence to learn new skills. Socially he was an extrovert and enjoyed good company; when he allowed himself to relax he enjoyed a day at the races.
Meade married Alice Carmel Rooney, with whom he had three children, two sons and a daughter. They lived at 9 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin, then, for several years before his death, with his mother-in-law in Shrewsbury Road. He died of a brain tumour in Dublin on 11 November 1952. His funeral was attended by many dignitaries including the president of Ireland, Seán T. O'Kelly (qv), Dr Michael Tierney (qv) president of UCD, Professor W. J. Jessop (qv), and the minister for finance, Seán MacEntee (qv).