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Showing posts from 2014


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the RCSI Heritage Collections Photo of a snow covered St Stephens Green taken in the winter of 1910.  The College can just about be seen in the background.  (RCSI/News/01)

Listen to Tales of Eyes with Your Ears

Last week the RCSI Heritage Collections were involved in the recording of the brilliant The Book Show on RTÉ Radio 1  which will be aired this Saturday 20th December. The show is about the rise of Gothic novels and ghost stories. Sinead Gleeson, The Book Show presenter, discusses Edith Wharton's novel The Eyes with Dr. Ian Flitcroft, an eye surgeon at Temple Street Hospital and author of the short-listed People's Book Prize 2013 The Reluctant Cannibals .     To set the scene for The Eyes  the RCSI Heritage Collections pulled out a number of antique eye instruments and gave a brief description on how they were used. RCSI/MI/964 The instrument on the left is an eye retractor (RCSI/MI/964). This would have been used to pull and hold the overlying tissue out of the operating field. RCSI/MI/942 is an eye scoop. This would have been used after the removal of an eye to scoop out any of the remaining tissue. The instrument below is an eye speculum (RCSI/MI/937). It do

Glass that Sparkles and Shines

In these dark, damp and deeply cold evenings it is nice to gaze at a beautifully crafted stained glass window with its magnificent array of colours. And what better way to to do so then while keeping warm indoors! The RCSI is very fortunate to have a number of stained glass windows in it's historic building on Stephens Green. Two of which come from the internationally revered and highly sought after Harry Clarke Studios. Harry Clarke took over his father's stained glass studios in Dublin in 1921 and soon became synonymous with unique and exceptionally crafted stained glass. Despite his untimely death in January 1931, the Harry Clarke Studios continued to produce stunning pieces of art for all over the world. In 1930 Terence Clarke, a nephew of Harry, entered the family studios as an apprentice quickly learning and honing his skill as a stained glass artist.     Detail of 'Mother and Child' stained glass panel in the RCSI Chapel of Meditation  Terence Cla

Time for Exam Results!

The RCSI Heritage Collections has recently digitised the RCSI Examinations Register from 1784 to 1803 (RCSI/LIC/01/02). The 12 folios list alphabetically the names of those who have been examined in the RCSI for Letters Testimonial, Mateship, Army Surgeon, Surgeoncy, Army Mate, Navy Mate, Assistant Surgeon and to be a ranked mate to a ranked officer. Find the full register on our website. RCSI/LIC/01/02 pg.1 RCSI/LIC/01/02 pg.2 - Researched and written by Meadhbh Murphy

A Bright Hope for Lunatics

After a revision of the laws relating to lunacy was taken by the Lord Chancellor Sir Edward Sugden in 1845 the Lunatics Act was introduced. This meant that the inspector of lunatic asylums was to have a medical background and that the status of the mentally ill changed from prisoner to patient. This was a major step forward in the care and treatment of the mentally ill and the first inspector to be appointed in Ireland in January 1846 was Francis White. Francis White (1787-1859) White had initiated a campaign to secure medical participation in the treatment of the mentally ill years before the 1845 Act. White had been appointed Inspector-General of Prisons in 1841 and he saw this as a step towards a medical professional being appointed to a similar role for asylums. Lunatics were not shown any kindness, they would be chained up, caged, left in cells and neglected. No attempt had been made into understanding what has effecting their minds and what could be done to help these pe

My Rolls is Better Than Yours!

Oliver St John Gogarty in one of his many fancy fast cars, possibly a Mercedes 28/95 RCSI/IP/Gogarty Oliver St John Gogarty (FRCSI 1910) loved extravagant cars. The faster the better. He owned the Mercedes above as well as in 1912 buying a butter cup yellow coloured Rolls Royce. Gogarty was a colourful character to say the least. He was a surgeon, a poet, a playwright, a Republican and a prankster. According to Ulick O'Connor, Gogarty's biographer, h e became known for flamboyant theatrics in th e  operating room , including off-the-cuff witticisms and the flinging of recently removed   larynx   at the viewing gallery! Gogarty's Rolls Royce was his prized treasure but it lead to the loss of a dear friend and became a ghostly figure for the IRA during the Civil War. William Orpen and Gogarty were great friends with Gogarty visiting the artist's studio frequently. Orpen painted a  portrait  of Gogarty that hangs in  the  College today. The story goes that Orpen

Explore Your Archives 2014

The RCSI Heritage Collections were delighted to take part in the national Explore Your Archives 2014 campaign . Two lectures were organised for local secondary school students and staff of the College. These lectures entitled 'Archives Breathe Lives into History' illustrated that archives house material belonging to unknown individuals who have been forgotten by history. Archival material can be pieced together to breathe live back into a person's legacy which has lain dormant for tens if not hundreds of years. A prime example of this from the RCSI Heritage Collections is the Irish surgeon William Wallace.  Wallace was a controversial figure and because of his questionable methods in finding a cure for syphilis he was forgotten by the medical and historical worlds. William Wallace But it's not only Wallace who is brought to life through his collection. It is also the patients he treated. In preparation for a medical atlas relating to venereal and skin disease W

Safe Haven for Wounded WW1 Officers

This day 96 years ago an armistice between the Allies and Germany took place at Compiégne, France which ended the hostilities and brutality of WW1. During the years of fighting millions of people were killed and wounded. In Dublin a small group of people took it upon themselves to open a hospital for wounded officers sent back from the war. This hospital was established on 1 December 1914 with the approval and guidance of the British Red Cross Society. The minute book of this forgotten hospital is housed in the RCSI Heritage Collections. Offer of premises for the hospital made by W. I. De Courcy Wheeler  Minute Book of the Hospital for Wounded Officers The hospital was given premises at 33 Upper Fitzwilliam Street by Sir William Ireland De Courcy Wheeler (1879-1943) who also volunteered his surgical services. The sub-committee was made up of notable wealthy and respected citizens of Dublin including Lady Talbot de Malahide, Lady Powerscourt and Francis T. Heuston FRCSI

At Slumber with Graves

It being the day of Samhain the door to the other world slowly creaks open and the desire to visit one of Dublin's oldest and lesser visited cemeteries has struck the RCSI Heritage Collections. Mount Jerome Cemetery was established in 1836 and is the resting place of a number of prominent Irish surgeons. So who has made Mount Jerome there eternal home? Only a man with a name that couldn't be more fitting for Samhain, Mr. Robert Graves . Graves' tombstone in Mount Jerome Robert Graves (1797-1853) Graves was a distinguished scholar who started his studies in Trinity College Dublin under the tutelage of Rev. Ralph Wilde, the brother of the Sir William Wilde. Graves graduated in Arts in 1815 and deciding upon medicine graduated with an M.B in 1818. Graves recognised the importance and promoted the need for post mortem examinations by the pathologist. He studied in a number of European universities (Berlin, Austria, Paris,Italy) and, according to Charles

BLOOD: Not For the Faint Hearted

Last night the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin launched a new exhibition called BLOOD The Gallery approached the RCSI Heritage Collections as they had heard we had a very important blood transfusion apparatus. Indeed we do! So we were delighted to loan them Robert McDonnell's blood transfusion apparatus. If you don't know that story of Robert McDonnell and the first human to human blood transfusion in Ireland find out more  here McDonnell's apparatus is the only historic item to be found in a very interesting, visual and though-provoking exhibition. Where else could you see a video installation of a woman receiving a blood transfusion from a horse, buy blood inspired jewellery, a vampire impaling kit and find out your blood type?? Robert McDonnell's blood transfusion apparatus on display RCSI/MI/224 RCSI/MI/224 - Researched and written by Meadhbh Murphy

To the Beat of the Drum

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland had an Officer Training Corps (OTC) garrison stationed in it's main building on Stephen's Green in the early 1900s, much the same as Trinity College did. This RCSI OTC provided military training to students in the College. As the members of the OTC were full-time students they were not expected to serve on operations. In the RCSI Heritage Collections we have a number of items relating to the College's OTC. Below you will see the official handbook and regulations that were issued to the OTC stationed in the College. RCSI OTC Handbook 1912 RCSI OTC Regulations 1912 Members of the College OTC would have been in the band who played at events, processions and ceremonies that took place in the College. The drums were a military instrument used to keep time while marching and also transmit signals across the battlefield. The RCSI band can be seen in the photograph below which was taken just before the ou

Care for some light reading?

If you are one for a little light reading, why not visit the RCSI Heritage Collections webpage where you can now find a transcription of the entire charter granted to the College by George III in 1784. In 1765   Sylvester O'Halloran , a surgeon from   Limerick , had proposed a College of Surgeons in Ireland along the lines of the College de St. Cosme in Paris, which had been regulating French surgery since its creation by royal charter by   Louis IX   in 1255. The Dublin Society of Surgeons was founded in 1780 at The Elephant public house on Essex Street (now Parliament Street).  Surgery in Ireland was without regulation. Top page of the RCSI Charter The main goals of the society were to separate from the barbers and provide surgical education in Ireland. They lobbied for a royal charter in 1781 and presented the   Lord Lieutenant  with their  petition. Finally a   charter   was granted by  King George III   on 11 February 1784 establishing  the Royal College of Surgeons i