Obituary: Alban Coghlan, 1940-2023 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Alban Coghlan, 1940-2023 

Born in Ireland, psychiatrist will be remembered for his adventurous spirit, athleticism and vast imagination

Published May 22, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. | Updated May 22, 2023 at 12:19 p.m.

click to enlarge Alban Coughlan - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Alban Coughlan

Alban Joseph Coghlan, born on July 9, 1940, passed away on May 8, 2023. He was the third of eight children born to Ann and Matthew Coghlan. He grew up in Carrick-on-Suir, a small town in County Tipperary, Ireland. He spent much of his primary schooling in Carrick apart from the last two years, when he attended De La Salle College in Waterford. This was followed by six years at the University College of Dublin School of Medicine, his internship at Richmond Hospital and a year of psychiatric training at Saint John of God Hospital. During his training he met, fell in love with and married Harmony Shields. After their marriage in Dublin, they crossed the pond to Topeka, Kan., where Alban completed a fellowship at the Menninger Clinic. While in Topeka, they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Clodagh. After completion of his training, Alban accepted a position at Columbia University; his focus was on adolescent psychiatry. His passion evolved into a position at a residential inpatient clinic for troubled young men. The couple resided in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Harmony died in 1970, and Alban was left to care for his young daughter Clodagh.

It did not take long for Alban to find love again. Mary “Gail” Ryan captivated his heart, as did her children, Abigail, Andy and Jack. They married, and the adventures never ceased until her passing in 2018. While on their honeymoon in Manchester, Vt., they purchased an apple barn and renovated it, and the Mad Tom Barn became home for the Coghlan family. With the move to Vermont, another professional transition took place. Alban established his own private psychiatric practice, worked for Rutland County Mental Health Services and covered for inpatient services at Rutland Regional Medical Center until his focus was primarily on his own practice, which he shared with Gail and a group of colleagues. One of his colleagues shared, “Alban both comforted and soothed many but also challenged others to evolve.”

Alban will be remembered for his adventurous spirit, athleticism and vast imagination, traveling to the Amazon and the Niger River in Timbuktu, and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and to Mount Everest base camp. There were frequent trips home to Ireland, spending time with family he adored. He played rugby on the Irish turf and tennis on the clay courts of the DFC and ran over 20 marathons — there was no stopping him. His gardens and garden parties were the highlight for many of his friends each summer. His stories were endless. One of the all-time classics: In August 1969, he found his way to Woodstock. There was a call for help in the medical “freak out” tent. Rather than treating people with sedatives, he soothed their psyches with ice cream.

Alban will be missed by all who crossed his path, especially his children, grandchildren and siblings. There will be a graveside service at Saint Jerome Cemetery on July 29, 1 p.m., with a celebration afterward to be determined. We could not let his passing go without raising a glass of Guinness Black Velvet in his honor. “May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.”

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