History of RCPI

1654 - 1700

Dr John StearneThe Fraternity of Physicians of Trinity Hall was founded by Dr John Stearne, Professor of Medicine at Trinity College Dublin, to improve the practice of medicine in Ireland.


Royal CharterThe College of Physicians in Dublin is established by Royal Charter granted by King Charles II. Under the Charter no person can practice medicine within a seven mile radius of Dublin unless licensed by the College. The Charter named the first 14 Fellows of the College, and confirmed Stearne as President for life.

1667 - 28 June

Grant of ArmsA Grant of Arms was made to the new College. The arms show the celestial hand descending out of a cloud to take the pulse of the temporal hand, over the Irish harp. The motto Ratione et Experientia (reason and experience) is also granted. A version of these arms and motto remains in use to this day.

1667- 16 August

Second Royal Charter granted by King William and Queen MaryA second Royal Charter is granted by King William and Queen Mary, the powers of the College to grant licenses is extended to cover the whole Kingdom of Ireland; the College also has the power to examine midwives and Apothecaries. The College is renamed the King and Queen’s College of Physicians in Ireland, and Patrick Dun is appointed President. The 1692 Charter, although heavily modified, is still the governing document of RCPI to this day.


1700 - 1750

Sir Patrick Dun Sir Patrick Dun, 13 times President of the College, died on 24 May. In his will, Dun left his substantial property in trust for his wife during her life and, on her death, to the College. The funds were to be used to establish a Professorship, and became an important source of income for the College into the 19th century.


Sir Patrick Dun's Library Dun’s personal library was transferred to the College. This forms the core of the College’s own library, which is still called Dun’s Library.


1750 - 1800

The School of Physic Act The School of Physic Act is passed, settling the dispute over Dun’s estates. Three King’s Professors are to be appointed at a fixed salary, with a fourth Professor of Midwifery to follow. The rest of the income from the estate was to go towards establishing a hospital, to be called Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital.


1800 - 1850

Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital The foundation stone of the new Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital on Artichoke Road (now Grand Canal Street) was laid. The hospital opened in 1808 and in 1812 the College was given a meeting room in the new hospital.


The College mace College President William Stokes commissioned his friend, the artist Sir Frederick William Burton, to design a mace for the College, made by West & Son in Irish silver.


1850 - 1900

The Medical Act The Medical Act was passed, introducing registration of medical practitioners for the first time. Under the Act, the College was named as one of the recognised awarding bodies for medical qualifications.


The College bought the premises of the Kildare Street Club for £5,000. 11 November: A fire destroyed the new premises before the College could move in, but an insurance payout of £6,000 was received and was put towards the construction of a new building.

1860 1 July

6 Kildare Street The College’s new home at 6 Kildare Street, designed by William Murray Jr. was complete.


Corrigan Hall The building at 6 Kildare Street was extended to include the former racquet court of the Kildare Street Club, now the Corrigan Hall.


Elizabeth Louisa Walker Dunbar The College took advantage of the Enabling Act, which allowed colleges to decide if they would admit women to medicine. Elizabeth Louisa Walker Dunbar became the first woman Licentiate of RCPI, and the first woman to be allowed to practice medicine in the British Isles.


The order of Membership of the College In response to the growing number of medics in Ireland, the College introduced the order of Membership of the College, as a step between Licentiateship and Fellowship.


The Irish Conjoint Board The Irish Conjoint Board was established between the College and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). The Board awarded the joint licentiates of the two colleges, which meet the terms of the 1886 Medical Act.


Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Letters Patents were granted by Queen Victoria, changing the name of the College to the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.


1900 - 1950

Irish Parliament The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (Adaptation of Charter) Order was passed to make RCPI’s Charter valid under the laws of the new Irish State.


1950 - 2000

The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists was founded.


The Irish Committee on Higher Medical Training The Irish Committee on Higher Medical Training was founded to oversee the specialist training of Irish doctors.


Fellowship Special Membership exams were introduced to allow senior medics not involved in RCPI to be fast-tracked to Fellowship.


The Faculties of Occupational Medicine and Community Medicine (now Public Health Medicine) were founded. The Faculties of Occupational Medicine and Community Medicine (now Public Health Medicine) were founded.


Collegiate Membership was established to give Members greater involvement in the running of RCPI.


Dr Brian Alton Dr Brian Alton was appointed first Director of Education. RCPI develops its postgraduate education programme.


The Faculty of Pathology was founded. The Faculty of Pathology was founded.


The Faculty of Paediatrics The Faculty of Paediatrics was founded.


Examination candidates An MRCPI exam is held outside of Ireland for the first time.


The Higher Specialist Training programme was launched in five specialties.


2000 - Present

Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine RCPI and RCSI established a joint Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine.


6 Kildare Street 6 Kildare Street undergoes extensive restoration and refurbishment, and opens as a conference and events centre.

2003 - June

Leo Kearns RCPI holds an intensive review of the structures and by-laws of the College, resulting in the reorganisation of its corporate functions and the appointment of Leo Kearns as the first CEO.


RCPI’s Public Meeting Series was established to provide a forum where expert advice and medical knowledge can be made available to the public.


RCPI and the Heath Service Executive (HSE) start developing Clinical Care Programmes, to develop and implement models of best practice in clinical care in Ireland.

RCPI’s Heritage Centre RCPI’s Heritage Centre was established to raise awareness of RCPI’s invaluable library, archives and historic items, and to promote public engagement with medical history and humanities.


Traffic Medicine RCPI and the Road Safety Authority of Ireland establish the National Programme Office for Traffic Medicine.