History of RCSI

Founded by Royal Charter in 1784, to set and support professional standards for surgical training and practice, RCSI has been shaping healthcare in Ireland for over 230 years.

Since 1810, when we established what is now the impressive facade of 123 St Stephen's Green, RCSI has played host to some of the most influential public figures in the nation's history. From dignitaries to revolutionaries – all have walked our hallowed halls. 

Our journey

Rediscover our fascinating history and learn more about the people that have shaped RCSI as it is today. 

Foundation of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) by charter of George III, 11 February.

1784
RCSI in 1810

Surgeon’s Hall opens on St Stephen’s Green.

1810
Professor John Cheyne

The first Chair of Medicine, Professor John Cheyne, is appointed. and medical teaching begins on St Stephen's Green.

1813
An operation about to begin at a Dublin Hospital c1890

Third supplemental charter of Queen Victoria opens the RCSI Medical School, License and Fellowship to women. Among the early female pioneers of RCSI were Mary Emily Dowson, admitted as the first female Licentiate in 1886, and Emily Winifred Dickson, who became the first female Fellow in 1893.

1885
RCSI Boardroom in 1916

Insurgents occupy the College during Easter Week under the command of Michael Mallin and Countess Markievicz. Our surgeons work to treat the injured.

1916
1970s extension on York Street

The new medical school on York Street is formally opened by Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, President of Ireland (1974-1976). RCSI subsequently becomes a recognised College of the National University of Ireland (NUI) in 1978.

1976

Beaumont Hospital opens as RCSI’s principal teaching hospital following the closure and merger of the Charitable Infirmary, Jervis Street Hospital and the Richmond Hospital.

1988

Medical and surgical technologies continued to advance in the 1990s. David Bouchier-Hayes, RCSI Professor of Surgery, performed the first keyhole gall bladder removal in Ireland.

1990

Penang Medical College opens as a co-operative initiative between RCSI and University College Dublin (UCD) to facilitate training of Malaysian medical students in pre-clinical studies in Dublin and hospital training in Penang.

1996
Research at RCSI

RCSI becomes a major player in Irish research, securing funding in the first round of the internationally assessed Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) administered by the HEA.

1998
School of Physiotherapy launch

Registrar Professor Kevin O’Malley drives the development of new Undergraduate schools, with the School of Physiotherapy opening in 1999 and the School of Pharmacy in 2002.

1999

RCSI establishes the first Clinical Research Centre on an Irish hospital site. And a new education and research centre at the RCSI Smurfit Building, Beaumont Hospital.

2000

The Dáil and Seanad enact the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Charters Amendment) Act 2003 which confers statutory degree awarding powers on RCSI – subject to approval by the Minister for Education.These powers are activated in 2010.

2003
Opening of RCSI Bahrain

RCSI Bahrain opens its doors, with the first cohort of students joining in October 2004. The foundation stone was laid for a new state-of-the-art campus in 2005, which was officially opened by Mary McAleese and His Royal Highness Prime Minister, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa.

2004

The RCSI Institute of Leadership opens in Dublin and Dubai.

2005

RCSI is the first to launch a Graduate Entry Medicine programme in Ireland. In the same year, we establish a School of Postgraduate Studies to support postgraduate research within RCSI.

2006
COSESCA partnership

With funding from Irish Aid, RCSI and the College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa establish a Collaboration Programme to develop surgical training in the region. In the same year, in Dublin, we launch the country's first Nurse Prescribing programme.

2007
Ms Eilis McGovern

Eilis McGovern is elected as the first female President of a Surgical College, worldwide. While Professor Hannah McGee becomes the first female Dean of a medical school in Ireland.

2010

PU-RCSI School of Medicine at Perdana University in Malaysia is officially opened.

2011
Ruairi Quinn

Mr Ruairi Quinn, Minister for Education and Skills lays the Foundation Stone for a new RCSI education building at 26 York Street.

2014

The Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 enables RCSI to describe itself as a university outside of the State only.

2015
Simulation at 26 York Street

RCSI opens 26 York Street, Europe’s most advanced healthcare education facility and home to our world-class simulation centre.

2017
PA graduation ceremony

The first physician associates in Ireland graduate from RCSI.

2018
2019 university status

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. and Minister of State with responsibility for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. announce that RCSI has been authorised to use the title of university in Ireland. Making it Ireland’s first, not-for-profit, independent, university.

2019

RCSI is named as the highest ranked university in the world for Good Health and Well-being in Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings.

2020