Profile: Ronan Foley

Dr. Ronan Foley, Lecturer, Department of Geography, National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Ronan’s research interest is medical/health geography, and geographic information science. He teaches courses on general health geography and health care planning.

Ronan Foley grew up in County Laois, Ireland, and has spent his academic career at the University of Brighton, and since 2003, in his present post at NUI Maynooth. He completed BA and MA degrees in geography at University College Cork in 1983, before joining the emigrant trail to the UK, where he subsequently completed his PhD at the University of Brighton in 2000.

Ronan’s interest in medical and health geography was stimulated by working on research projects associated with informal carers in East Sussex in the early 1990s, with Dr. Peter Frost of the Brighton health faculty. At around the same time, he became interested in spatial data and the use of GIS in particular. His doctoral research combined these interests by looking at the potential role of GIS in examining access to short-term and respite care services for parents of children with disabilities in the same part of the UK. He has taught health geography and planning since the mid-1990s, and has published on issues associated with accessibility, catchments, service equity and, most recently, on the provision of mental health advocacy services in London. He has also worked on a number of applied research projects with health, voluntary and governmental agencies in both countries. His latest research is branching in two directions: The first is how to measure spatial equity in relation to health and social care service provision in a number of different settings; the second is a move into the subject of therapeutic landscapes with a particular interest in the relationship between health and place through the notion of the ‘spa,’ both as an historic entity in the form of spa towns and in its modern reinvention as a source of ‘well-being’ for the worried well!

Ronan may be contacted at He is on sabbatical this year in New Zealand and Italy, writing a book for Ashgate on Healing Waters, which investigates a range of places in Ireland that can be considered broadly hydrotherapeutic.

Updated: January 2009