Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

For other uses of "RCSI", see RCSI (disambiguation).
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn[1]
Motto Consilio Manuque
(Scholarship and Dexterity)
Type Private
Established 11 February 1784
Students 4185[2] (as of 2013)
Address 123 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin, Ireland
Campus Urban
Professor Cathal J. Kelly
Professor John Hyland
Affiliations NUI, RCPI

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI; Irish: Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn), a National University of Ireland, is the professional association and educational institution responsible for the medical speciality of surgery throughout the island of Ireland. Uniquely among the four mutually recognised royal surgical colleges in the United Kingdom and Ireland, it also incorporates a medical school, which is now Ireland's largest with over 3000 students from 60 countries.

RCSI's main campus is situated on St. Stephen's Green in Dublin, having received its royal charter in 1784. At present, it incorporates schools of medicine, pharmacy, physiotherapy and nursing, and thus provides both undergraduate and postgraduate levels of education and research activities in a number of healthcare fields.


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 Britain or Ireland.

In 1765 Sylvester O'Halloran, a surgeon from Limerick, had 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.[3] 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 organization focused on providing standardized 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 charter was granted by King George III on 11 February 1784. The governing body, including the first President Samuel Croker-King and William Dease, first professor of surgery, met in the boardroom of the Rotunda Hospital for the first time on 2 March. Most importantly, admission or employment was not discriminated against on sectarian grounds. Two of its chief founders, Sylvester O'Halloran and William Dease as well as eleven out of its first 57 presidents were Catholics. The college also recognized 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 RCSI Disease and Research centre in Beaumont Hospital

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 surgeons. In 1886 these two disciplines were merged, and the medical school began operation. As a result of this historical legacy, 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.

During the 1916 Rising, the main college building on St Stephen's Green was occupied by Irish Citizen Army forces, led by Commandant Michael Malin and Countess Markievicz. After surrendering, both were tried and sentenced to death. Mallin was executed while Markievicz's sentence was commuted due to her gender.

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.

RCSI is the first medical institution of learning to offer a 4-year graduate entry programme for medicine in Ireland.

Since the 1980s Beaumont Hospital, Dublin has been the principal centre for medical training. Other affiliated hospitals include teaching hospitals such as Connolly Hospital, Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, and St. Joseph's Hospital, Dublin.

Academic structure

Undergraduate Faculties

Postgraduate Schools & Faculties


RCSI is a culturally diverse, international organisation with Alumni presence in almost every country in the world. RCSI values innovation, excellence, independence, academic freedom, diversity, tolerance and community. RCSI has played a pivotal role in Irish surgical and medical education and training for over 228 years. RCSI champions a patient-centric approach to all its activities and endeavours. Today, RCSI offers undergraduate degrees in Medicine, Pharmacy and Physiotherapy and is the largest Irish Medical School. RCSI's primary purpose is the education and training of healthcare professionals and health sciences research. More than 3,800 students representing 60 nations are currently enrolled in its Medicine (1,800), Pharmacy (200) and Physiotherapy (100) programmes. There are 17,000 RCSI Alumni working as medical doctors or in allied disciplines around the world.

Student life

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

The Students' Union (SU) is an annually elected body, consisting of 8 officers. The SU is the college's bridge between faculty and the student body and is invited to most meetings, ensuring that student voices are heard on a variety of topics. The SU works closely with the Student Council, which consists of class representatives from all classes at RCSI.

The Biological Society (BioSoc) is the official student society of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and claims to be the oldest student medical society in the world. The RCSI International night and Chocolate Ball (amongst many others) are their main annual events.

International aspects and operations

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 programme in Healthcare Management.

In 2007 RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons Ireland) in conjunction with Valentia Technologies, the Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB), and the Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) launched unique training initiative with the Emergency Medical Services Dubai Training Institute. The aim is to better patient care and improve response times within Dubai's emergency ambulance services.[6]

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.

Also in Malaysia, Perdana University Royal College of Surgeon in Ireland (PU-RCSI) was established in 2011. The programme will host up to 100 students per year on its 5-year undergraduate medical programme, the first cohort will graduate in 2016.

RCSI-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 a Degree of Bachelor of Medicine, NUI, Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Obstetrics MB, BCh, BAO (NUI, RCSI) degree. In 2006 the Medical University of Bahrain established a new School of Nursing which took its first cohort of students in September 2006. Since 2009 students can also obtain the degrees conferred upon RCSI graduates from the National University of Ireland.

For students at the home institution of RCSI, options may be taken abroad as a result of collaborative agreements with other medical schools around the world. In 2007, these medical schools included 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 alumni

Notable honorary fellows

Honorary Degrees

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland was Granted Independent Degree Awarding Status By the Republic of Ireland Government in 2010, Allowing the Institution to Award Honorary Degrees, The Following People Have Received Honorary Degrees from the RCSI.


See also


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