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Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn[1]

Motto:Consilio Manuque
(Scholarship and Dexterity)
EstablishedFebruary 11, 1784
Location Dublin 2, Ireland
Michael Horgan
Professor Gerald O'Sullivan FRCSI
Affiliations:NUI, RCPI

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), (Irish: Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn) is a Dublin-based private medical institution, situated on St. Stephen's Green. The college is one of the five Recognised Colleges of the National University of Ireland. The college dates back to 1784 and at present incorporates schools of medicine, physiotherapy, pharmacy and nursing, providing both undergraduate and postgraduate levels of medical education. The word Royal in RCSI came from the charter granted to it by King George III. Among medical institutions, the use of the term "Royal College" in the UK currently indicates an oversight body for postgraduate medical education: the RCSI performs such a function, but is also unique in having its own undergraduate medical school.

Additional recommended knowledge



Since medieval times, the practice of surgery was licensed by the Barber-Surgeons' Guild, also known at the time as the Guild of St. Mary Magdalene. The guild chapel was in Christchurch. Guild membership at that time was obtained by a 3 year apprenticeship followed by 2 years as a master. In fact the College of Surgeons maintained a mandatory period of apprenticeship to a qualified surgeon until 1828. In 1446, the Barber-Surgeons' guild was incorporated by royal decree of Henry VI, becoming the first medical corporation in the British Isles.

In 1765, Silvester O’Halloran, a surgeon from Limerick, proposed a College of Surgeons along the lines of the College de St. Cosme in Paris, which had been regulating French surgeons since it had been created by Royal Charter by Louis IX in 1255, to train and regulate surgeons. The Dublin Society of Surgeons’ was founded in 1780 at the Elephant public house on Essex street (now Parliament street). Trinity did not teach surgery as a subject until 1851, so Ireland was entirely without a school focused on surgery. To have a separate organisation focused on providing standardised surgical education became one of the goals of the society and they lobbied for a Royal Charter, in 1781 presenting the lord lieutenant a petition to be incorporated separately from the barbers. The awaited character was granted on 11 February 1784. The governing body, including the first President Samuel Croker-King and William Dense, first professor of surgery, met in the boardroom of the Rotunda Hospital for the first time on March 2. Most importantly, admission or employment was not discriminated against on sectarian grounds. Two of its chief founders, Silvester O’Halloran and William Dense as well as eleven out of its first 57 presidents were Catholic. The college also recognised the medical qualifications given by the Catholic university from 1856, which gave legitimacy to their diplomas. The first candidate for examination was John Birch in August 1784. The current location, at the corner of York Street, was acquired in September 1805, with additional land at Glover’s Alley bought in 1809. It was previously an abandoned Quaker burial ground. The Duke of Bedford laid the first stone of the new building on St. Patrick’s Day, 1806 and building reached completion in March 1810. A supplemental charter was granted by Queen Victoria in 1844, dividing medical graduates into Licentiates and Fellows. Initially, physicians were trained alongside with surgeons. These two disciplines were merged in 1886; and, the medical school began operation. Due to these historical reasons, graduates of medicine still receive Licentiate diplomas from the two Royal Colleges as well as now being awarded MB (Bachelor of Medicine) BCh (Bachelor of Surgery) and BAO (Bachelor of the Art of Obstetrics) degrees by the National University of Ireland. Ever since the 1980s, the Beaumont Hospital, Dublin has been the principal centre for medical training. Other affiliated hospitals include teaching hospitals such as Connolly Hospital.

Postgraduate Faculties

  • Faculty of Dentistry
  • Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine
  • Faculty of Radiologists
  • Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery


For the medical programme, currently, there are two main entry routes. The first one being the graduate entry scheme leading to a total duration of 4 or 5 years. And, the second one being regular entry scheme for high school graduates leading to a total duration of 5 or 6 years. Entry requirements are based on the country of origin. The general Irish Leaving Certificate score requirement is around 570[2]. In the case of North American applicants with bachelor's degrees applying to the medical program, MCAT scores, GPA and recommendations are used for evaluation. Similar applicants from Australia, for example, may use GAMSAT results. For the four-year Pharmacy program, graduates are awarded B.Sc in Pharmacy. For the three-year Physiotherapy program, graduates are awarded B.Sc in Physiotherapy.[3]

Student life

Students at RCSI are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities that promote service in the community and cultural awareness. As a side note, 80% of the student population is from outside the European Union, with a significant portion coming from North America, the Middle East and Malaysia. A complete list of current student societies and clubs can be found on the RCSI website.[4]

International outreach

As a leading international medical institution, RCSI is active in all medically related sectors of education around the globe. During the South African Apartheid, for example, RCSI provided medical education to those that were discriminated against.[5] In 2005, RCSI Dubai was founded and currently offers a master's program in Healthcare Management. The Medical University of Bahrain is a fully owned constituent university of RCSI and already has nearly 450 registered students. The first cohort commenced medical studies in October 2004 and graduates are entitled to an M.D. degree. In 2006 the Medical University of Bahrain (MUB) established a new School of Nursing which took its first cohort of students in September 2006. In Malaysia, Penang Medical College became RCSI's far east launching pad. Established in 1995, Malaysian medical students may choose to complete their pre-clinical studies at either UCD Dublin or RCSI. For students at the home institution of RCSI, electives may be taken abroad as a result of collaborative agreements with other medical schools around the world. As of 2007, these medical schools include Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, and Tufts University. There are also informal agreements with other institutions such as the Johns Hopkins University and Mayo Clinic. More than 60 countries from each continent are represented in the RCSI student body.


Notable Honorary fellows

  • Benjamin Bell (1784)
  • Percival Pott (posthumously 1788)
  • John Hunter (1790)
  • John Abernethy, Astley Cooper, Antonio Scarpa, Samuel Thomas von Sömmering (1821)
  • Georges Cuvier (1831)
  • Friedrich Tiedemann (1836)
  • Benjamin Collins Brodie (1838)
  • Richard Owen (1849)
  • William Bowman (1867)
  • Samuel Haughton (1873)
  • Hermann von Helmholtz (1881)
  • Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister, Thomas Henry Huxley, James Paget, Thomas Spencer Wells (1886)
  • John Eric Erichsen, Jonathan Hutchinson (1887)
  • Thomas Heazle Parke (1889)
  • John Shaw Billings, Hermann Snellen (1892)
  • Thomas Joseph Crean (1902)
  • Anthony Traill (1905)
  • Henri Hartmann, Alfred Henry Keogh, Almoth Edward Wright (1906)
  • William MacEwen (1912)
  • Berkley Moynihan (1913)
  • Harvey Cushing (1918)
  • Arthur William Patrick Albert (1919)
  • William Mayo and Charles Mayo, William Williams Keen (1921)
  • Alfred Webb-Johnson (1948)
  • Cecil Pembrey Grey (1954)
  • Sean T. O'Ceallaig (1958)
  • Benjamin Guinness (1961)
  • Éamon de Valera, Arthur Porritt (1964)
  • Michael Ellis De Bakey (1967)
  • Bryan Guiness, Walter Mackenzie (1968)
  • Denis Parsons Burkitt, Francis Daniels Moore (1973)
  • Cearbhall O'Dalaigh (1975)
  • Patrick Hillery (1977)
  • Robert B. Salter (1978)
  • John W. Kirklin (1979)
  • Daoud Hanania (1980)
  • Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (1988)
  • Sultan Azlan Shah (1991)
  • Dato' Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohammed (1991)
  • President Mary Robinson (1994)
  • His Excellency the Emir Shaikh Isa bin Sulman Al Khalifa (1995)
  • Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1995)
  • President Nelson Mandela (1996)
  • Professor Alfred Cuschieri (1996)
  • Professor Seamus Heaney (1998)
  • President Mary McAleese (1998)
  • His Majesty, Sultan Azlan Shah The Yang Di Pertuan Agong IX (2000)
  • His Highness, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum (2004)
  • An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern (2006)
  • Bob Geldof (2007)
  • Jimmy Carter (2007) - 39th President of the United States


  • Former United States First Lady Nancy Reagan visited RCSI in 1984 and liked one of the carpets used by the college. She eventually ordered a similar one for both the American embassy in Ireland and the White House.[6]
  • During the 1916 Rising, the main college building on Saint Stephen's Green was occupied by rebel Irish forces, led by Countess Markievicz. Bullet holes from that time are still visible in the stone facade.
  • Now defunct subjects taught include: Logic (1852-1862), Military Surgery (1851-1860), Botany (1792-1889) and Hygiene or Political Medicine (1841-1921, then united with chair of Medical Jurisprudence).
  • The RCSI motto, "Consilio Manuque", was adopted from the College de St. Cosme in Paris, which had been afforded the motto by Louis XIV. It was originally "Consiloque Manuque", his personal motto.
  • The RCSI college council has by custom, met on Thursdays, dating to the advent of the Dublin Society of Surgeons in 1780.
  • The statues on the St. Stephen's Green facade of the college are Aesclepius in the center, with Hygeia on his left and Athena on his right. These statues represent healing, health and wisdom respectively. Over the entrance on the same side is a stone carving of Hippocrates.
  • The Royal College of Surgeons is the first medical institution of learning to offer a 4-year graduate entry program for medicine in the Republic of Ireland.

Notable alumni

  • Pat O'Callaghan - Irish gold medallist at both the 1928 and 1932 Olympic Games.
  • Professor Abraham Colles of Anatomy - the first person to characterize the injury that was later on known as Colles' fracture.
  • Sir William Stokes - knighted for his contribution in the field of surgery.
  • Francis Rynd - introduced hypodermic medication.
  • Sir William Wilde - Surgeon, Author and father of Oscar Wilde
  • Oliver St John Gogarty - Surgeon, Author and Statesman
  • Baron Darzi - Professor of Surgery, Imperial College London who is at the forefront of minimally invasive surgery research
  • Wan Azizah Wan Ismail - former patron of Majlis Kanser Nasional and a Malaysian opposition politician.
  • Felipe Contepomi - Captain of Los Pumas and Leinster Rugby fly-half.
  • Nada Haffadh - became Bahrain's first female minister when she was appointed Minister of Health in 2004

See also


  1. ^ RCSI Website; Main Page
  2. ^ Entry Requirements for Applicants; Entry Requirements for Applicants
  3. ^ Irish Statute Book; The Royal College of Surgeons In Ireland (Charters Amendment) Act 2003
  4. ^ RCSI Website; Student Life / Clubs Societies
  5. ^ RCSI Website; About the College
  6. ^ RCSI virtual tour; The Board Room of the RCSI MP3
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Royal_College_of_Surgeons_in_Ireland". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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