Researching Irish Doctors


Because medical practice was only partly regulated before the middle of the nineteenth century, early records of medical education are patchy. The major Irish institutions were the Dublin Guild of Barber-Surgeons (from 1576), the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (from 1667), the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (from 1784) and Apothecaries' Hall (from 1747). In addition, the University of Dublin (Trinity College) had a School of Physic (Medicine) from 1711. Many Irish medical men also trained in Britain or on the Continent.

The records of the Dublin Guild of Barber-Surgeons (1530-1849) are in Trinity College, Dublin (Ms. 1447). Completing an apprenticeship in the guild required admission to the Freedom of Dublin. A full list is in the ' Ancient Freemen of Dublin' section of The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has registers of admission to the College from the seventeenth century. The records of Apothecaries' Hall from 1747 to 1833 are on microfilm in the National Library (Pos. 929). Alumni Dublinenses (eds. George D. Burtchaell and Thomas U. Sadleir; Dublin: 1935) contains detailed records of Trinity College students up to 1860 and is on FindMyPast. Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Licentiates and Members are online (though not transcribed or indexed) at

For tracing the careers of medical practitioners, the major sources are Dublin directories, which list physicians and surgeons from 1761 and apothecaries from 1751, as well as local, generally later, directories (see Directories) and Irish Medical Directories, published intermittently between 1843 and the end of the nineteenth century. The Directories for 1852 and 1858 are on FindMyPast.

Another, less conventional source is the 'Biographical file on Irish medics', compiled by T.P.C. Kirkpatrick, which is a compendium of biographical material on Irish medics up to 1954 held in the Royal College of Physicians. The College's heritage centre ( specialises in the genealogies of early medical men and is open to the public by appointment.

A bibliography of published works is in the 'Occupations' checklist.

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