Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Open call to artists for Women on Walls at RCSI in partnership with Accenture launched

01 March 2018

An open call to artists for a series of new portraits of historical female leaders in medicine has been announced today at RCSI.

Women on Walls at RCSI in partnership with Accenture will recognise the pioneering achievements of a group of extraordinary women and enhance the visibility of historical female leaders in medicine. The new portraits will be hung in the Board Room of RCSI’s historic building on St Stephen’s Green.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, Professor Cathal Kelly, RCSI CEO said: “Gender diversity is core to our ethos at RCSI and we are proud to be associated with women who broke boundaries to become leaders in medicine. (Emily) Winifred Dickson, for example, became the first female Fellow of RCSI in 1893, making her the first female Fellow of any of the surgical Royal Colleges in Britain and Ireland.

“Women on Walls at RCSI in partnership with Accenture will bring the legacy of these women to life, providing a platform to celebrate their contributions and raise the visibility of the role of women in medicine. We are delighted to be working with Accenture and Business to Arts on this important campaign and we look forward to seeing the completed portraits hang in our historic St Stephen’s Green building,” added Professor Kelly.

 Women on Walls launch

Pictured at the launch of an open call to artists for a series of new portraits of historical leaders in medicine are (L-R): Dr Avril Hutch, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at RCSI; Andrew Hetherington, Chief Executive of Business to Arts; Professor John Hyland, RCSI President; Alastair Blair, Country Managing Director, Accenture; and (front) Michelle Cullen, MD Enterprise Enablement, Accenture.

Alastair Blair, Country Managing Director, Accenture Ireland added: “We are very pleased that RCSI is joining the Women on Walls campaign by commissioning portraits of eight exceptional female medical pioneers for the walls of their remarkable building at St Stephen's Green. The powerful public reaction to what started out only two years ago has surpassed all our expectations. This next chapter of Women on Walls is about changing how we look at gender inequality, ensuring that the next generation can be inspired by the last.”

Andrew Hetherington, Chief Executive, Business to Arts said: “We are proud to work with RCSI and Accenture on the next phase of the Women on Walls Campaign. Celebrating the lives and achievements of these incredible women through portraiture continues our mission to make Ireland's female academic and industry leaders visible. This is the largest portrait commission series that Business to Arts has been involved with and we cannot wait to see what is created. Art is a powerful means of visual communication and these portrait commissions will be seen by people for generations to come.”

RCSI is committed to promoting gender equality among staff and students for the advancement of the College’s mission to educate, nurture and discover for the benefit of human health. RCSI is a signatory of Athena Swan, a Charter that recognises and celebrates good practice towards the advancement of gender equality and enables representation, progression and success for all.

Women on Walls is a campaign that seeks to make women leaders visible through a series of commissioned portraits that will create a lasting cultural legacy for Ireland. Accenture’s Women on Walls began in 2016 with the Royal Irish Academy.

Artists are welcome to submit a proposal to Business to Arts before 5pm on Wednesday, 25 April 2018. It is anticipated that the successful artists will be selected in June and that the completed artworks would be launched in Spring 2019.

Further information is available at

Note to editors

Portraits will be commissioned of the following female Graduates or Fellows of RCSI:

  • Dr Victoria Coffey (1911 – 1999)
  • Mary Frances Crowley (1906 – 1990)
  • Dr (Emily) Winifred Dickson (1866 – 1944)
  • Dr Pearl Dunleavy (1909 – 2002)
  • Dr Mary Josephine Hannan (1865 – 1935)
  • Sr and Dr Maura Lynch (1938 – 2017)
  • Dr Barbara Maive Stokes (1922 – 2009)
  • Dr Mary Somerville Parker Strangman (1872 – 1943)
Female portrait Accomplishments
Dr Victoria Coffey (1911 – 1999) One of the earliest to investigate Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. One of first female Paediatricians in Ireland who did considerable work in the area of congenital abnormalities. First female recipient of the RCSI’s Distinguished Graduate Medal, first woman President of the Irish Paediatric Association and the Paediatric Section of the Academy of Medicine in Ireland, and, was the first woman President of the RCSI Post Graduates' Association. Also of note, she was President of the Irish-American Paediatric Society.
LRCPI & LM, LRCSI &LM 1936, PhD, MA Dub. 1965, FRCPI 1979, MFCM 1974, LM Coombe 1944, DCH RCPSI. (RCSI).
Mary Frances Crowley (1906 – 1990) Founder member and first Dean of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She started the Medical Missionaries Midwifery Training School at the International Hospital, Drogheda in 1942.
Dr (Emily) Winifred Dickson (1866 – 1944) First female fellow
M.D.R.U.I. 1896, M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O. 1893, M.A.O. 1896; F.R.C.S.I. 1893, L.R.C.P.I and L.M. 1891
Dr Pearl Dunleavy (1909 – 2002) Graduate and lynchpin of Dublin's immunisation programme, and Dublin was the first local authority in Britain and Ireland to introduce BCG vaccine which prevented TB.
L.R.C.P.I & L.M., L.R.C.S.I. & L.M. 1932; D.P.M. R.C.S.I. 1938.
Dr Mary Josephine Hannan (1865 – 1935) First woman to both train and qualify at RCSI.
L.R.CP.I. and L.M. L.R.C.S.I and L.M. 1890; L.M. Rot. Hosp. Dub. 1890; (R.C.S.I.)
Sr and Dr Maura Lynch (1938 – 2017) After 17 years in Uganda and Angola as MMM, she returned to Ireland in 1948 and, at the age of 46, began training as a surgeon at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. Extensive work in missionary hospitals in Africa.
MB, BCh BAO NUI 1964; DObst RCOG 1967; DTM Lisbon 19667; (Univ Coll. Dub; FRCSI 1985.
Dr Barbara Maive Stokes (1922 – 2009) A paediatrician and disability campaigner, Stokes was born 20 December 1922 in London.
Dr Mary Somerville Parker Strangman (1872 – 1943) Suffragette and advocate of women’s and public health services and became the first female elected town councillor of Waterford in 1912.
F.R.C.S.I. 1902, L and L.M 1896; L.R.C.P.I. and L.M. 1896.