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The Meath Hospital (Ospidéal na Mí) was the oldest voluntary hospital in continuous existence in Ireland; the oldest university teaching hospital; and a most significant hub of medical eponyms and notable names.

Opened March 2nd 1753, The Meath was initially housed in rental accommodations. The hospital was funded by a benefit play and several annual subscriptions of the wealthy inhabitant’s of the Earl Of Meath’s land. It was thought important to have a hospital in the now-Liberties to cater to “a part of town remote from city hospitals and generally thronged with the industrious poor”.

It eventually gained it’s own permanent address in the Coombe, with the first stone laid on the 10th October 1770 by Lord Brabazon.


Historical timeline of Meath hospital
  • 1753 – Founded to care for the sick and poor of the Liberties.
  • 1774 – Took on the mantle of the County Dublin Infirmary
  • 1822 – Thomas Pleasants donated £8000, allowing the hospital to be moved to Heytesbury Street. Here it became focus of the Dublin School of Medicine.
  • 1826 – 1843The Golden Age of the Meath hospital – when Graves and Stokes introduced bedside teaching to the English-speaking world.
  • 1844 – The first hypodermic injection was administered by Francis Rynd, surgeon in the hospital
  • 1933 – First hospital in Ireland to introduce Liaison Psychiatry
  • 1951 – First hospital in Ireland with a dedicated Urology department
  • 1995 – Ireland’s first dedicated stroke unit (named after Dr William Stokes)
  • 1998 – The Meath joined with the Adelaide hospital and moved to Tallaght to form The Adelaide and Meath Hospital incorporating the National Children’s Hospital (later Tallaght University Hospital) on 21st June 1998.
Meath Hospital 1771
Meath Hospital 1771

Notable Names
  • John Cheyne (1777-1836); physician to the Meath hospital 1811-1817
  • Sir Philip Crampton (1777–1858); surgeon to the hospital in 1798
  • Robert Graves (1796-1853); physician from 1821-1843
  • William Stokes (1804-1878); physician from 1826-1875
  • Francis Rynd (1801-1861); physician and inventor of the hypodermic syringe
  • Rawdon Macnamara (1822–1893); appointed Meath surgeon in 1861
  • Lambert Hepenstal Ormsby (1850-1923); surgeon to the hospital 1872-1923
  • Richard Lane Joynt (1867-1928); surgeon to the hospital and one of the first radiologists in Ireland

Literary associations

The site of the hospital from 1822 (the Dean’s Vineyard) was where Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) kept a garden and a paddock for his horse – the wall of the hospital along Long Lane incorporates parts of the wall built by Dean Swift.

James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849) and Brendan Behan (1923-1964) were patients and spent their last days in the Meath Hospital.

The poet, author, and otolaryngologist, Oliver St John Gogarty (1878-1967) was on the staff of the hospital from 1911 to 1939. The fictional character of Malachi “Buck” Mulligan in James Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses is partly based on Gogarty, a close companion of Joyce. One of the surgical wards, which now houses the ENT office, is named in his honour.

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressing gown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned: “Introibo ad altare Dei

Opening line to Ulysses, 1922

References

Meath hospital publications

Historical references


eponymictionary

the names behind the name

MB, BCh, BAO LRCP & SI (Hons). Graduated RCSI Dublin May 2021. Currently working in Western Australia as a junior doctor. Interests include Urology and General Surgery.

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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