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

History of RCSI

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland was granted a Charter on 11th February 1784. This Charter gave the College the power to control the practice of surgery and to make provision for surgical education.

Prior to that time the surgeons were grouped with the barbers and the Barbers Surgeons Guild. The founders had no premises so the earliest meeting was held in the boardroom of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin. Subsequently, a disused hall in Mercer Street beside Mercer's Hospital was acquired.

Stimulus for growth

The College flourished from the very start and in 1810 moved to its present location at the corner of York Street facing St Stephen's Green. The site acquired for the building at that time was a disused Quaker graveyard. The College set about educating doctors with a strong emphasis on surgery. The founding fathers were very influenced by the standard of surgery in France at that time.

Out of respect for the French College of Surgeons they adopted the motto which is our motto to the present time of "Consilio Manuque" meaning Scholarship and Dexterity. The stimulus for growth in the early years was the demand for Army and Navy surgeons for the Napoleonic wars.

Over the past forty years the College has become home to the Faculties of Anaesthesists, Radiologists, Dentistry and Nursing. These bodies functioning independently have added a great dimension to the College and have added lustre to the Institution.

A supplemental Charter

In 1844 a supplemental Charter was obtained from Queen Victoria. The chief provision of this was the institution of the Fellowship which divided Graduates into Licentiates and Fellows. The latter could only be obtained by examination taken a minimum of three years following graduation. This is essentially the Charter by which the College works today.

The Medical Act of 1886 confirmed that graduates had to be educated in surgery, medicine and obstetrics and so the Conjoint Board between the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians came into existence.

The graduates received Licentiates in these three subjects. Since 1978 the College is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland with the award of M.B., B.Ch., BAO to its graduates in addition to the Licentiates.

RCSI Presidents

Here is a full list of RCSI presidents since the foundation of the College in 1784


RCSI History Timeline

View a timeline of the history of the College here

Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) was established in 1654, as a Fraternity of Physicians which was granted a Royal Charter by Charles II in 1667. The roll of the College includes the names of such famous Irish medical men as John Steam, Thomas Arthur, Sir Patrick Dunn, Thomas Molyneux, William Petty, John Cheyne, Robert Graves, William Stokes and Sir Dominic Corrigan.

In association with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the College plays an active part in the education and examination of undergraduate medical students.

National University of Ireland

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the National University of Ireland (NUI) concluded an agreement in 1977 whereby the Medical School is a recognised college of the NUI and its students graduate from the National University of Ireland as well as from the RCPI and the RCSI. Historically, the Cecilia Street School of Medicine of the Catholic University was the forerunner of University College Dublin Medical School of the NUI.

Recognition was given to the Cecilia Street School by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and all the Professors and Demonstrators at Cecilia Street were graduates of the College.

Power to Award Degrees

On 12th October 2010, RCSI received Designated Awarding Body status from the State giving the College the power to award its own degrees

200 Years on St. Stephen's Green

In 2010 the College celebrated 200 years on St. Stephen's Green in Dublin. A video history of the College can be viewed here