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

National Heritage Week 2014 at RCSI

27 August 2014

Approximately 600 members of the public visited RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) over the three days of National Heritage Week 2014. This annual initiative involves a host of event that celebrate the different aspects of the illustrious heritage and history of RCSI. National Heritage Week at RCSI, which looked into the establishment and building of RCSI; some of the interesting characters and individuals who have shaped the history of the College; and the role Irish doctors and surgeons played in the First World War, took place at the main building on St Stephen's Green.

Pictured (l-r) is Frank Donegan, Head Porter, RCSI; Prof Clive Lee, Head of Department of Anatomy, RCSI; Meadhbh Murphy, Archivist, Mercer Library; Mr Joe Duignan, retired Consultant Surgeon; and Bryan Sheils, Deputy Head Porter, RCSI.
RCSI ran three historic public talks and six tours of the College over the three days on Wednesday 27th, Thursday 28th and Friday 29th August and were completely free of charge to the public. The tours were led by RCSI Porters Frank Donegan and Bryan Sheils. 

Frank speaks to members of the public in the Council Chamber

On Wednesday 27th August, Meadhbh Murphy, Archivist at the RCSI Mercer Library, delivered a lecture called "Beguiling and Brilliant: The Medics of RCSI". In this talk Meadhbh spoke about the pioneers, founders and inventors of new surgical techniques and instruments who walked through the doors of the RCSI. Be they students or staff they helped forge medical advancements that benefit patients daily. The lives of a few of these RCSI people, such as William Wallace, Emily Winifred Dickson, Sir Charles Cameron and Oliver St John Gogarty to name but a few, will be brought to light in this talk. 

Pictured (l-r) Sophie Mason (Killiney, Dublin) with her aunt, Susan Buckley and Susan's son Neil Buckley, with a display of the RCSI heritage collections

The following day, Thursday 28th August, saw retired Consultant Surgeon and former RCSI Council member, Mr Joe Duignan address the public with a lecture on "The Role of Surgeons in World War I". In this talk, Mr Duignan detailed the role of the some 3,300 Irish surgeons, doctors and students who contributed to the medical effort in the World War I. These medics often found themselves at the front line of battle when advancing into no-man's land to help the wounded while also dressing wounds, splinting fractures and occasionally performing amputations close to the battlefield. Mr Duignan will bring attendees through the duties of such doctors who were involved in every theatre of war from the Western Front to the Dardanelles, African and, later, in Russia. 

Pictured (l-r) is John and Eileen Dempsey from Newbridge, Co Kildare, with a display of the RCSI heritage collections in the College Hall 

Professor Clive Lee, Head of the Department of Anatomy, RCSI closed Heritage Week on Friday 29th August with a lecture on "Surgeons' Halls", a talk which charts the history of RCSI from its foundations on a disused Quaker graveyard, to the part it played in the 1916 Rising, right up to the present day. Attendees will learn the story behind one of Dublin best known buildings and how it came to be built. Prof Lee will also discuss some of the individuals who have shaped the College's history over the past 230 years. 

This year's events follows on from the success of the 2013 Heritage Week activities at RCSI, where free public tours of the building on St Stephen's Green finished as a national runner-up in the ‘Best Interactive Event' category. All three lectures and historic tours of RCSI are run in conjunction with National Heritage Week, an annual programme of over 1,500 events which take place during the last week of August each year. National Heritage Week 2014 is organised by the Heritage Council and will run from the 23rd to the 31st of August. For more information of National Heritage Week 2014 at RCSI, visit  
RCSI is a not-for-profit health sciences institute which focuses on education and research to drive positive change in all areas of human health worldwide. RCSI is headquartered in Dublin and is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland. In 2010, RCSI was granted independent degree awarding status by the State, which enables the College to award degrees alongside its traditional powers to award licentiates.