Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2015

Merry Christmas!

The bells are jingling, people are mingling and the lights are twinkling so it is time for all of us at RCSI Heritage Collections to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Our resident rein-dog hopes you enjoy the holidays! RCSI Heritage Collections will be closed from Wednesday 23rd December until Tuesday 5th January 2016. - Researched and written by Meadhbh Murphy

Surgeons & Insurgents: RCSI and the Easter Rising

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland c.1900 As this year draws to a close, Ireland is about to embark on a year of commemorations and celebrations in 2016 as it will be 100 years since the Easter Rising took place in Dublin and around the country. Every day, thousands of commuting Dubliners pass by RCSI's iconic building on the western side of St. Stephen's Green in the heart of the city, with its impressive 19th century stone-column façade. Even regular passers-by may not have noticed the subtle reminders of our history which are scattered across the columns - now gently smoothed by 100 years of weathering, are bullet holes from the 1916 Easter Rising. The centrepiece of RCSI's 2016 Commemorative Programme, which will coincide with the official state commemorations, is a special exhibition Surgeons and Insurgents - RCSI and the Easter Rising   and accompanying public lecture series.  The exhibition will tell the story of the events surrounding the bat

Lend Us A Hand!

The wealth of historical, societal and cultural information you can gather from newspapers is immense. Not only do newspapers report on major incidents of global importance, but the local and bizarre are also included. RCSI Heritage Collections have a newspaper collection made up of scrapbooks with articles relating to the College which date from the 1880s. Some very odd articles have been included in these scrapbooks that don't really relate to the College. One of these can be seen below. It was taken from The Irish Times on 4th December 1914. As the saying goes "the article speaks for itself"!! Put your hands together! (RCSI/News/02) - Researched and written by Meadhbh Murphy

Explore Your Archive 2015

RCSI Heritage Collections are delighted to take part in Explore Your Archives 2015. This campaign strives to highlight the intriguing and magical nuggets of history waiting to be found and studied in archives throughout the country.   Explore Your Archives 2015 As we are heading into 2016 and a year of fabulous exhibitions, lectures, events commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising, our story box focuses on a unique item that directly relates to that time. Visit the Learn About Archives website to find out more about these story boxes and wondrous collections.   Plus check out the Explore Your Archive events page to see what is happening this week and over the coming months. Go forth and explore! The beautiful Vatican Archives - Researched and written by Meadhbh Murphy

Intriguing Heritage Items: No.1

As the RCSI Heritage Collections is full of interesting and intriguing stand alone pieces we have decided to start a series dedicated to these. First up is this..... Field surgical kit RCSI/MI/252 This is a field surgical kit that was used by surgeons during the Battle of Vitoria , in the Basque region of Spain. This battle took place on 21 June 1813 and it was between an army of British, Portuguese and Spanish soldiers under the command of General Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington  and a French army under the leadership of Joseph-Napoleon Bonaparte , eldest brother of the Napoleon Bonaparte.  This battle was one of a series in what became known as the Peninsular War, which eventually lead to the defeat of the French and Napoleon. 'Victoria of Vittoria' by John Masey Wright 1814 Courtesy of the British Museum   How can we tell this kit was used on the battlefield, you ask. Well we have a receipt! Accompanying this item is the receipt below. If o

Crazy Confectionery Collectors....WOOOOOOO!

Special collections and archives house unique one-off priceless pieces of historically valuable and irreplaceable material. This material can be made out of paper, skin, wood, bone, metal, animal – you name it and it is most likely stored away and cared for in an archive. When you think of these unique and priceless items; the Book of Kells, the Magna Carta, a letter written by Padraig Pearse. These are the types of things that can spring to mind.......not necessarily sweet wrappers. But never fear lovers of all things sweet and  confectionery  related! There is an  archivist or two out there who is  squirrelling away all the  shiny  paper, crinkly bags, plastic wrappings that once covered sweets of any and every sort. Yummy sweets from the 1980s Want to know more about these  confectionery  collectors or indeed why they exist?? Click here and here        H a p p y H a l l o w e e n

Give Your Right Mummified Arm!

What could a pioneering Irish boxer, grave robbers and RCSI have in common?? Remember it is Halloween..... A 200 year old preserved right arm of course!! Dan Donnelly's right arm  He's pointing at you! Dan Donnelly was born in Townsend Street, Dublin in March 1788. He was one of 17 children growing up in the harsh living condition faced by the majority of Dubliners in the late 18th century. Donnelly was a carpenter by trade but was known in Dublin for being a hard drinker and an even harder hitter! Donnelly was known by RCSI surgeons from an incident in his youth. He rescued a lady from being attacked by two sailors down by the docks but in the fight his arm was badly mangled. Donnelly was brought to Abraham Colles  who operated and saved Donnelly's arm from amputation. Colles described Donnelly as a 'pocket Hercules' to his surgical friends. Dan Donnelly (1788-1820) George Cooper  Donnelly's

Sealed With A Waxy Disc!

Detail of wax seal from RCSI 1784 Charter with George III depicted on horseback RCSI was founded in 1784 by a royal charter being granted by King George III. The recently conserved charter can be seen here with it's large wax seal intact. These wax seals were very important as they authenticated the document they were attached to. A seal was a device which made an impression in wax, clay, paper. The seal with a unique and specific design was pressed into the wax, clay or embossed on to paper by the author 'sealing' their name, rank, power, honour to the document. Most seals have always given a single impression on an essentially flat surface. But in medieval Europe two-sided seals with two matrices were often used by institutions or rulers (eg. towns, bishops, aristocracy, royalty) to make two-sided or fully three dimensional impressions in wax, with a 'tag' (a piece of ribbon running through them attaching them to the document). These 'pendant' sea

A Doll's Innards?

In the heritage collections and archive world you get used to coming across odd things; a collection of hair in an envelope, a framed picture made of saint's relics and rude drawings done by a gentleman travelling around Europe in the 1700s.   Yesterday the Heritage Collections received the receipt above in the post. It was sent in by the lovely people in the Doll's Hospital in Dublin. They attached a note explaining that while doing repair work on an old doll they found this receipt inside the doll!  I wonder if little Miss O'Connor ever told her father where she had hidden his receipt! - Researched and written by Meadhbh Murphy

Get Ready for Culture Night 2015!

Courtesy of David Carus It's tomorrow! RCSI will celebrate the culture of Dublin and Ireland as well as the cultures of a number of other countries. Culture Night will kick off with a series of special performances at the St Stephen's Green entrance to the College, where you can see a variety of musical and dancing performances that showcase the cultures of just some of the 60+ countries where our students come from. These will take place from 5.30pm until 6pm.  Inside the College, you can take a self-guided tour or talk to a member of the RCSI Culture Night team to learn about the rich heritage and history of RCSI and the part it has played in shaping both local and national history, including when the building was seized by rebels led by Michael Mallin and Countess Markievicz during the 1916 Easter Rising. We look forward to seeing you all tomorrow night. - Researched and written by Meadhbh Murphy

Unsolved Mystery: The Deceased Dentist

RCSI Heritage Collections are appealing to you, the virtual community, to help locate a relative, photo or any information about a graduate of dentistry from the College who is to feature in our 2016 exhibition  Surgeons & Insurgents: RCSI and the Easter Rising ---------------------------------------------------------------- Are you related to  Charles Hachette Hyland (LDS RCSI 1907)? Charles Hachette Hyland was born in Dublin in 1887 to Charles and Martha who lived in 5 Percy Place, Dublin 4. Charles Snr was manager of the Gaiety Theatre for many decades and celebrated his silver anniversary there in 1904. Charles was the eldest of five children; Hugh, Eileen, Gerard and Winifred.  1911 Census courtesy of the National Archives of Ireland Charles studied dentistry in the College and received his licence (LDS RCSI) in 1907. He married Kathleen and by 1916 they had one son, Charles. Unfortunately it is in 1916 when tragedy struck the young Hyland family. C

'Outsider Women'

Last night was the launch of ' Outsider Women ' an online exhibition of digitised archival collections from RCSI, Maynooth University and DCU: St Patrick's College through the 3U Partnership .  This online exhibition explores the lives of Emily Winifred Dickson (FRCSI 1893), Agnes O' Farrelly (Irish language activist and writer) and Teresa Deevy (playwright). These women lived in different time periods and social worlds but are connected by two major themes - their contribution to their societies and their status as outsiders, either in their contemporary world or in our subsequent historical recordings of it. All three collections have been catalogued, digitised and made available through their own standalone websites. Click on the links below to visit each one Emily Winifred Dickson  Agnes O' Farrelly Teresa Deevy In a video and essay Dr Jennifer Redmond, Lecturer in Twentieth Century Irish History in the Department of History at Maynooth Unive

RCSI Heritage Week 2015

Heritage Week starts next week and RCSI Heritage Collections are delighted to be running tours and talks on Monday 24th, Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th August. Tours will take place at 11am, 2pm and 6pm each day and will be followed by a talk entitled Dublin in the Rare Ol' Times The talk will look at what it was like to live in Dublin in the decades leading up to the 1916 Easter Rising with a particular focus on the living, health, sanitation and hospital conditions during those years.  Advertisements taken from the Medical Directory  of the time show what new medical devices were being sold, what courses were available and the latest waterproofers in fashion! You will notice some of these establishments are still around in Dublin today.  The horrendous living conditions endured by those in the tenements and the diseases Dubliners battled on a daily basis will also be touched upon. Tenement in Kilmainham in 1914 Sir Charles Cameron's pamph

Deer's Gall: A Cure for Freckles?

These days the majority of prescription drugs are man-made by large pharmaceutical companies. But before the GlaxoSmithKline's of today, what did people take for stomach pain, to help stop deafness and cure freckles? The answer is they looked to the natural world, both animals and plants, to produce medicinal remedies, tinctures and lotions. By looking at the book Zoologia Medicinalis Hibernica written in 1739 it seems a lot of ailments were treatable by various animal parts. Zoologia Medicinalis Hibernica by John Keogh 1739 Keogh's book not only tells us what part(s) of an animal can cure your ailment. He also tells you how to prepare the animal part(s) to be eaten, drunk, rubbed on or poured over. Below can be seen his entry for the medicinal uses of a deer, which are quite extensive and in some cases bizarre! How deer can help treat diseases according to Keogh    Who knew that mixing the filings or ashes of a deer's hoof with bear's grease and