World Health Day is a global health awareness day observed on 7 April every year. In this article, we celebrate ten famous Irish doctors and nurses who have had a significant impact on the world of medicine.
After a year defined by a global pandemic that has seen massive stress and pressure placed upon health systems worldwide, there is no better time to honour the work of our doctors and nurses.
World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on 7 April and sponsored by the World Health Organisation. This year’s theme is a new campaign for a fairer, healthier world.
Over the centuries, health professionals from the Emerald Isle have done much to progress the world of medicine. So here we are celebrating ten famous Irish doctors and nurses on World Health Day.
10. Dominic Corrigan – known for his observations in heart disease
Born in 1802 in Dublin, Dominic Corrigan was an Irish physician known for his original observations in heart disease. His work with many of Dublin’s poorest led him to specialise in diseases of the heart and lungs.
The abnormal collapsing pulse of aortic valve insufficiency is named Corrigan’s pulse after him, and Corrigan’s Ward in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital is named in his honour.
9. Francis Rynd – invented the hypodermic needle
Born in Dublin in 1801, Francis Rynd was an Irish physician known for inventing the hollow needle used in hypodermic syringes.
He became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1830 and went on to work at Meath Hospital while also serving as medical superintendent of Mountjoy Prison.
8. William Brooke-O’Shaughnessy – discovered the cure for cholera
William Brooke-O’Shaughnessy was an Irish physician born in Limerick in 1809, and his remarkable discoveries mean he had to make our list of famous Irish doctors and nurses.
He is credited with discovering the cure for cholera, introducing cannabis to western medicine, and creating the world’s longest telegraph.
7. Hans Sloane – physician to three British monarchs
Hans Sloane was born in 1660 in Killyleagh, County Down, and he is remembered as an Irish physician, naturalist, and collector.
Succeeding Sir Isaac Newton as president of the Royal Society, he is credited with founding the British Museum, the British Library, and the Natural History Museum after bequeathing his impressive collection of 71,000 items.
6. Emily Winifred Dickson – first female Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Emily Winifred Dickson was born in County Tyrone in 1866 and is remembered as the first Irish woman to receive a doctor of medicine degree.
She was also the first female Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the first female Fellow of any of the Royal Colleges of Surgery in Great Britain and Ireland.
5. James Barry – performed the world’s first successful caesarean operation
James Barry was a talented physician born in Cork in 1795 remembered for performing the world’s first caesarean operation in which both mother and baby survived.
Dr Barry was the first fully qualified female doctor in Britain, but it was only on her death that her true identity as a woman, Margaret Ann Baulkley, was revealed.
4. Kathleen Lynn – a pioneer in the treatment of children with tuberculosis
Born in Mayo in 1874, Kathleen Lynn was an Irish politician, activist and medical doctor known for her work at Saint Ultan’s Children’s Hospital, which she established in Dublin in 1919 and was the only hospital in Ireland managed entirely by women.
She was so greatly affected by the poverty and disease among the poor in the west of Ireland that she decided to become a doctor at the age of 16.
3. William Stokes – created important works on cardiac and pulmonary diseases
William Stokes was a physician born in Dublin in 1804. He is remembered for his works on cardiac and pulmonary diseases and one of the first treatises on the use of the stethoscope.
Both Cheyne–Stokes respiration and Stokes–Adams syndrome are named after him.
2. Elizabeth Bell – one of the first women to qualify as a doctor in Ireland
Born in Newry in 1862, Elizabeth Gould Bell is remembered as one of the first women in Ireland to qualify as a doctor graduating from Queen’s University in 1893.
A fervent advocate for feminist ideals, after graduating, Bell became one of the first women to work with the Royal Army Medical Corps and served as a doctor in Malta.
1. Frank Pantridge – invented the portable defibrillator
Born in Hillsborough, County Down in 1916, Professor Frank Pantridge tops our list of famous Irish doctors and nurses.
He was a Northern Irish physician, cardiologist, and professor and is credited with transforming emergency medicine and paramedic services through his invention of the portable defibrillator.