The Irish Apothecaries traces their origins back to the Guild of St Mary Magdelane in the 15th century, which originally represented apothecaries, together with the barber-surgeons and periwig makers. In 1746, a Royal Charter of King George II established the Guild of St. Luke for the Dublin Apothecaries, with powers to regulate the profession. This regulation was enhanced by King George III with the Apothecaries Act of 1791, which established Apothecaries’ Hall. Under the Act, which is still in force, the Hall is comprised of a governor, deputy governor, thirteen directors and up to 60 Members. The Act regulated the training the apothecaries, which now required an apprenticeship of seven years. The Hall also had the authority to examine and issues certificates to Apprentice Apothecaries, Journeyman Apothecaries and Master Apothecaries (who could open a pharmaceutical shop).
Under the 1858 Medical Act the qualification of Licentiate of Apothecaries’ Hall (LAH) was included as one of the recognised qualifications to practice medicine in the British Isles. Apothecaries’ Hall was an examining and licensing body for medicine, not a teaching one. Applicants had to present evidence of adequate attendance at lectures and clinical instruction before sitting the examinations. In 1971 the General Medical Council (UK) and the Medical Registration Council of Ireland removed the Hall’s Licentiate as one of their recognised medical qualifications.
In 2011 Apothecaries’ Hall sold their building at 95, Merrion Square. The Hall’s archive, portrait and object collection were transferred to the RCPI Heritage Centre, where they are available for researchers to consult. The Hall continues to meet and is now housed within the RCPI Heritage Centre.
Today the focus of Apothecaries’ Hall is on the promotion and preservation of the history of medicine and pharmacy in Ireland. The Hall runs an annual Charles Lucas Memorial Lecture on an aspect of the history of pharmacy in Ireland. With RCPI the Hall also funded a PhD Fellowship in the history of medicine (2015-2018), this was awarded to Fiona Shannon for her research project Irish Traditional Medicine Post Independence: An analysis of the ‘Schools' Manuscript Collection’.
You can watch webcasts of all the previous Charles Lucas Memorial Lectures using the links below. Please note that no lecture was held in 2020 due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
2019 - A perspective on mental health services from drugs to therapy and back again Prof James Lucey
2018 - The Apothecaries of London: 400 years of tradition and innovation Prof Charles Mackworth-Young
2017 - A history of drugs to calm or assist the failing heart: a cautionary tale Prof Dennis Johnston
2016 - Medicine and pharmacy in 19th Ireland - from doctoring in the dark to rational therapeutics Dr Brian Cleary