Dun’s Library

A Unique Medical Historical Library

Dun’s Library is a historical medical library containing over 20,000 volumes, some dating from the 16th century. Over the past 300 years it has been a priceless resource for doctors and medical historians. You are welcome to search our online library catalogue and read rare medical books in our Heritage Centre.

In the 1960s we took the decision that it was no longer possible, practically or financially, to maintain a current medical library. The focus of Dun’s Library instead shifted to the history of medicine in Ireland, and the wisdom of this decision can be seen in the growth of research in this area over the last two decades.

Today Dun’s Library remains an important resource for the history of medicine and medical education in Ireland, and is open to all researchers. Our reading room is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 4pm. Please contact us to make an appointment.

We are currently undertaking a project to electronically catalogue the entire library collection, this is a work in progress and we are currently about half way through. The electronically catalogued material includes most of the books dating from before 1850.  

However, if you can’t find the book, pamphlet or journal you’re looking for in the online catalogue, please contact us and we will be happy check the card catalogues.

What’s in Dun’s Library?

A

Books, pamphlets and journals dating from the foundation of Dun’s Library to 1900. The collection is especially strong for the period c.1780-1900. This collection not only contains medical works but also works reflecting the wider scientific, cultural, literary and artistic interest of RCPI’s Members and Fellows of the time.

This collection is partly electronically catalogued – if you can’t find the item you are looking for please contact us.

A

Books, pamphlets and journals covering the period 1900 to 1950 published in Ireland, by Irish medics or with substantial Irish medical interest.

This collection is partly electronically catalogued – if you can’t find the item you are looking for please contact us.

A

A reference collection of publications relating to the history of medicine in Ireland, or with substantial Irish interest. This collection includes biographies and autobiographies of Irish medical practitioners, as well as histories of Irish hospitals and other medical organisations.

This collection is partly electronically catalogued – if you can’t find the item you are looking for please contact us.

A

We hold the personal libraries of a number of important Irish medical practitioners and organisations. Their collections cover a range of topics and periods, details are given below;

  • The collection of Sir John Thomas Banks (1816-1908), Regis Professor of Medicine, TCD, and President of RCPI. This collection is partly electronically catalogued.
  • The collection of Arthur Benson (1852-1912) Surgeon at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, also containing works owned by Charles Benson (1797-1880), RCSI Professor of Medicine. This collection is partly electronically catalogued
  • The collection of Sir John Hawtrey Benson (1843-1931) President, RCPI. This collection is partly electronically catalogued
  • The collection of Fleetwood Churchill (1808-1878), mainly 17th to 19th century obstetrical and gynaecological works. This collection is fully electronically catalogued.
  • The collection of Ephraim MacDowel Cosgrave (1853-1925), president of RCPI, Professor of Biology in RCSI and Knight of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. This collection is partly electronically catalogued
  • The collection of John Fleetwood (1917-2007), focusing on Irish medical history and old age/palliative care. This collection is fully electronically catalogued.
  • The collection of Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw (1839-1900) Registrar General for Ireland, c.100 books. This collection is partly electronically catalogued
  • The Library of the Irish Cardiac Society, covering cardiology works from c.1860-1950. This collection is fully electronically catalogued
  • The collection of Thomas Percy Claude Kirkpatrick (1869-1954), focusing on Irish medicine and Irish medical history. This collection is fully electronically catalogued.
  • The collection of James Little (1837-1916), mainly general medicine and history of medicine. This collection is partly electronically catalogued
  • The collection of Sir Arthur Vernon Macan (1843-1908), contemporary and historical works on obstetrics and gynaecology includes journals. This collection is partly electronically catalogued
  • The collection of Christopher Joseph McSweeney (d.1953), resident medical superintendent of the Cork Street Fever Hospital, Dublin. This collection is fully electronically catalogued.
  • The collection of John Mills (d.1936) Resident Medical Superintendent in Ballinasloe Mental Hospital, mainly works on mental illness. This collection is partly electronically catalogued
  • The collection of John Mollan (1790-1877) physician to the Richmond district lunatic Asylum, and RCPI President, mainly works on mental illness. This collection is partly electronically catalogued
  • The collection of Sir John William Moore (1845-1937), containing medical and non-medical books, pamphlets and journals from the 17th to early 20th century. Also includes works owned by other medical members of the family. This collection is partly electronically catalogued
  • The collection of Conolly Norman (1853-1908), Resident Medical Superintendant in the Richmond District Lunatic Asylum, mainly works on mental illness. This collection is partly electronically catalogued.
  • The Collection of Alfred Robert Parsons (1864-1952), containing contemporary medical, religious and political works. This collections is partly electronically catalogued.
  • The collection of Robert Rowlette (1877-1944), general medicine book form the 19th and 20th century, with some medical history. This collection is partly electronically catalogued.
  • The collection of Aquilla Smith (1806-1890) and his son Walter George Smith (1844-1932). This collection is partly electronically catalogued.
  • The collection of Robert Travers (1807-1888) a Trinity Professor and assistant librarian to Marsh’s Library contains both books on medicine and wider scientific subjects. This collection is partly electronically catalogued.

The Origin of Dun’s Library

Dun’s Library has been part of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland since 1713, when Sir Patrick Dun (1642-1713), an eminent physician and former President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, bequeathed his personal library to the College.

 

“Like wise I would give my books for the lawful use of the sd Professors and College of Physicians, provided the sd. Professor or Professors … give bond and security to keep and preserve the sd Library and all and every book and books in it, and if any should be lost of wanting, to pay for or purchase another of the same kind, the same paper and edition or better in the room thereof.”

Clause in the will of Sir Patrick Dun, (1642-1713)

Visit Us

To make an appointment to view any items from our archive simply contact us.

Our reading room is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 4pm, by appointment.

Harriet Wheelock

Keeper of Collections

Tel: +353 1 669 8817

Harriet is Keeper of Collection and manages the RCPI Heritage Centre. Contact Harriet with any questions about the Heritage Centre, its collection and to make an appointment to visit.