‘Medicine in Trinity College Dublin, An Illustrated History’, by Professor Davis Coakley

Posted on: 06 May 2014

The medical school in Trinity College Dublin is one of the oldest in Europe and because of this a history of the school is also a history of the development of medical education and clinical practice in Ireland over the centuries. The book 'Medicine in Trinity College Dublin, An Illustrated History' by Professor Davis Coakley and published by Trinity College Dublin was launched by the Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast, at a special event in the Provost's House on May 1st last, with friends and colleagues from the School of Medicine, extended College community and affiliated  hospitals in attendance. The Provost gave an opening speech, followed by speeches by the Head of Medicine, Professor Paul Browne and the author, Professor Coakley.

The author follows the history of the school over three centuries. The medical school emerged from an intellectual milieu created in the 1600s by a group of Dublin physicians, many of whom had studied on the Continent. The evolution of the school is described against the political background of the period, such as the Cromwellian and Williamite wars. This approach is maintained throughout the book with accounts of how major events such as the Act of Union, the agitation for Home Rule, the War of Independence and the First World War impacted on the school.

The later chapters describe the school's adaption to an independent Ireland, its survival through recurrent recessions and the effect of the ban on Catholic students attending Trinity. The book concludes with an account of the remarkable development of the school and its two major teaching hospitals, St James's Hospital and Tallaght Hospital, over the last thirty years. The story is brought up to date with a description of the growing contribution which the medical school is making to international medical research through the creation of several large research institutes.

The book contains over two hundred illustrations, many being published for the first time.

About the Author

Davis Coakley is a doctor and writer who graduated from University College Cork in 1971.  He served as a consultant physician at St James's Hospital, Dublin (1979-2011), and was professor of medical gerontology in Trinity College Dublin (1996-2011).  He was Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences between 1993 and 1999.  He is co-chairman of the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland, a body which promotes research on ageing across the island of Ireland.  He is chairman of the Trustees of the Edward Worth Library and he served as Dun's Librarian in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.  He is an honorary fellow of Trinity College Dublin  and  a fellow of the Irish, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow Colleges of Physicians. He is the author and editor of books on medicine, medical history and literature. His book Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Irish was published in 1992 and it is recognised as the first work in what is now a flourishing field of Wildean literature and research.  He is currently writing a history of St James's Hospital, Dublin.

For copies of the book, email:  Trinity Foundation Associate Director, Zhanna O'Clery,  ocleryz@tcd.ie.

Media Contact:

Caoimhe Ni Lochlainn, Head of Library Communications | nilochlc@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 4710