Online Exhibitions

From smallpox vaccination to the surprising preponderance on obstetricians in Irish literature, our collection of online exhibitions use the Heritage Centre's archive, museum and rare books collections to tell the story of medicine and medical education in Ireland.

The Truths of Pathology

Pathology in the nineteenth century was a broad field, aiming to understand the causes and nature of diseases. Unlike today, when pathology is its own specialty within medicine, in the nineteenth century, pathological research was carried out by physicians, surgeons, and obstetricians. In Ireland, there was a particular focus on linking the clinical observation of patients to the signs found in their bodies, post-mortem. 


Cartoons in the time of COVID

Our new online exhibition looks back over a year of COVID through the fantastic cartoons of Dr Eoin Kelleher. From the first days of the pandemic to the role out of the vaccine, this exhibition visually charts a momentous year for the medical profession in Ireland. The exhibition launched on Friday 12 March 2021, the anniversary of An Taoiseach’s first statement announcing COVID-19 restrictions in Ireland. 


'A Great Reformer': The Life and Work of Dr Conolly Norman

This exhibition focuses on the life and career of renowned Irish psychiatrist Dr Conolly Norman. The apparent growth of insanity in 19th century Ireland saw the building of an extensive asylum system. Upon his appointment at the Richmond Asylum in Dublin, Norman began attempting to reform the system and use his experiences to shape the future of psychiatry. The exhibition charts his early life, career and work in the Richmond Asylum, followed by his commemorations and accolades. From an epidemic outbreak in the asylum to his delivery of lectures to psychology students, Norman always tried to progress the study of mental illness.


'The most terrible of all the ministers of death': Smallpox and the introduction of vaccination to Ireland

The first recorded vaccination in Ireland took place in 1800 against smallpox, then one of the most serious infectious diseases known. This exhibition explores the discovery of the smallpox vaccination, its introduction to Ireland and how the authorities rolled out the programme of vaccination, and where and when it was opposed. It also looks at contemporary vaccination in Ireland and why, in a time when there are numerous safe vaccines against a number of serious infections which have saved millions of lives, there has been a rise in anti-vaccination sentiment. 


'The remarkable prevalence of tuberculosis in Ireland': 200 years of disease

An exploration of the prevalence and treatment of tuberculosis in Ireland, focusing on the records of the Royal National Hospital for Consumption and the Glasnevin Cemetery Museum.

This exhibition was curated by Emma Deignan and Rachel Frires, students on the MA in Public History and Cultural Heritage in Trinity College Dublin. Listen to them talk about the exhibition here.



"Some effort to check the needless waste of infant life": The early years of St Ultan's Infant Hospital

Our 2019 exhibition was created to mark the centenary of the founding of St Ultan's Hospital for infants in Dublin by Dr Kathleen Lynn and her group of female supporters. The exhibition explores the early years of the hospital's existence and the intersection of politics, healthcare and religious interests in the Irish Free State and beyond.



Irish Medicine in War and Revolution

Drawing on our collections this exhibition explores the impact of the period from the outbreak of the First World War to the end of the Civil War on the medical profession in Ireland. Examining the experiences of medics on all sides of the conflict, it delves into the tensions between personal views, political opinions and professional obligations. It was originally held in our home at 6 Kildare Street in 2016 as part of the centenary of the 1916 Rising commemorations.



From Man-Midwife to Female Master: 350 years of obstetricians and gynaecologists in Ireland

This 2018 exhibition was held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Ireland. It explores the history of the specialty in Ireland, from its origins in the 1600s to the foundation of the Institute as the professional body for the specialty in 1968, and what the future may hold. It also looks at the changing gender balance in the specialty, and how it has gone from female to male dominated, and back again. 



Becoming Royal: The founding charters of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

This exhibition tells the story of the foundation of the College, from the initial idea of Dr John Stearne to the founding of a fraternity of physicians to the granting of a Royal Charter in 1667 and 1692. It also looks at how the College has change and adapted over time, especially how a Royal College it found its place in an independent Ireland.



RCPI Charter

A History of RCPI

Explore the fascinating history of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland with our virtual timeline covering over 350 years.