Veitch, James Andrew (c.1770–1856?), surgeon, was born in Scotland and graduated MD from Edinburgh University. He then served as a surgeon in the British army, and was quartered in Longford during the 1798 rebellion. As the first surgeon superintendent to the newly built Galway County Infirmary (1802–33) on Prospect Hill, he was also the first Roman catholic to be appointed to such a position in Ireland. Together with Robert Ffrench, he was responsible for the able and efficient administration of the new hospital, making it a model of its kind. As surgeon, he dictated the diet of the patients, which consisted of ample supplies of milk and meat and, where required, wine as a restorative. Around the same time he was appointed attending physician to the new county jail (1803) and later the new city jail (1810), where his duties included looking after the health of prisoners as well as supervising their punishment.
It appears that Veitch was a popular man, and the governors of the county infirmary passed a public resolution of thanks to him on 1 July 1816 for his ‘unwearied exertions, zeal and attention to the sick under his care, and by whose medical and surgical abilities (which are so conspicuous) that many thousands of our fellow creatures have been restored from wretchedness to a state of health and comfort’ (Hardiman, 304–5). When Maria Edgeworth (qv) travelled through Connemara in 1833, she stopped over in Galway and sought out someone to show her and her party around the ‘dirtiest town I ever saw’. From a list of the ladies and gentlemen of Galway provided by her landlord, she chose Dr Veitch and sent a message to him. When he arrived, she was delighted to find that he was the same man whom her father had protected from a mob in Longford during the 1798 rebellion. Veitch was anxious to repay the kindness, and showed Maria and her party around Galway, later advising them to break their journey to Ballynahinch at Oughterard. He was married and had at least two children – Andrew James and Thomas (b. 1807). James Veitch is reputed to have died in 1856.
His eldest son Andrew James Veitch (1803–64), born in Galway, entered TCD (1820) and graduated BA (1824) and MB (1828). He received the LRCSI in 1827 and was elected FRCSI in 1833. Highly qualified, he helped his father out at the Galway County Infirmary and was apothecary and compounder of medicine there before being elected surgeon on his father's retirement (1833). He was also surgeon to Galway town and county prisons. Competent and dedicated like his father, he ran the infirmary until he fell into ill health about 1858. The following year he apologised to the governors for his long absences and hoped he was now recovered, but in 1862 resigned on account of poor health. Veitch was evidently a mainstay of the institution, for the infirmary ceased to flourish after his departure and became the subject of much criticism under his successor, James V. Browne. He married in 1838 Maria E. Balfe, the daughter of Edmond Balfe of Dublin, and died 31 December 1864 of suffocation from bronchitis.