Apothecaries' Hall of Ireland

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Medieval apothecaries in Dublin were members of Guild of Barbers, Surgeons, Apothecaries and Periwigmakers. The Barbers’ Guild had been founded in 1446 by a Charter of Henry VI (25HenryVI)(the earliest Royal medical foundation in Britain or Ireland, before the Edinburgh equivalent in 1505, and that of London in 1462), and it was united with Surgeons in 1576 by a Charter of Elizabeth I (19Eliz.I)(Barbers and Surgeons were united in London in 1540, by Act of Parliament). The patron of these guilds was St Mary Magdelene, and the Guild of St Mary Magdelene was 4th in precedence, with 4 members on Common Council of the City of Dublin.[1]

The Apothecaries separated from the Barber-Surgeons by Royal Charter of George II in 1747 (20Geo.II). The patron of the new Apothecaries’ Guild was St Luke the Evangelist, and the Guild of St Luke was 25th in precedence, with 2 members on the Common Council. (The Barbers’ representation on Common Council dropped from 4 to 2 members when the apothecaries seceded). The guild colours (established in 1767) were purple and orange.[1][2] (These may have been a variation of the Gold/Blue Livery colours of the London Worshipful Society of Apothecaries - which had seceded from the London Grocers’ Company in 1617 - and the crest of which - a rhinoceros - appears to also have been adopted by the Dublin guild.)[3] [4]

Company of Apothecaries’ Hall[edit]

In 1791, by Act of Parliament (31Geo.III), the Company of Apothecaries’ Hall was established, with a Governor and Directors.

As noted in the Act, the first governor of the group was Henry Hunt (1707-1796), who had previously been appointed the first State Apothecary (1784))[5]. He was born at Curragh Chase according to [1] Burke's, the son of John "of Glangoole" Hunt and Margaret Bowles, his second wife.

The Company was independent of the Guild (although, for practical purposes, they were one institution with a single governance structure). Although the Guild of St Luke did not survive the Reform and related Acts of Parliament in the 1830s, the Company of Apothecaries' Hall did. The principal duty of The Company from its foundation was to examine candidates, and qualify them to trade as an apothecary. A Licence from Apothecaries' Hall (LAH) became a registrable qualification when the General Medical Council was established as the regulator of medical practitioners in 1858, confirming that holders of the qualification practiced medicine.[6][1] The Company continued to licence doctors until 1971[2] when the General Medical Council and the Medical Registration Council of Ireland ceased to recognise qualifications from Apothecaries' Hall. Since an Act of Parliament established the Hall, an Act of Parliament would also be needed to close it, and the Company of Apothecaries' Hall continues to exist as a charitable organisation, although it can no longer serve its primary function.[4]

The Company of Apothecaries’ Hall continues to operate as one of only two direct extant successors of a medieval Dublin guild; the other is the Company of Goldsmiths (successor to the medieval Guild of All Saints) which still runs the Dublin Assay Office.[2][7]


The Guild of St Luke met at the Three Stags’ Heads Tavern on Eustace Street, Dublin.[1] In 1791, Apothecaries' Hall was erected at 40 Mary Street, at a cost of £6000. The Hall contained a spacious chemical laboratory where medicines were prepared. Lectures were delivered at the Hall, and part of it was also a wholesale warehouse, where the apothecaries could procure their materials.

In 1837, the medical school of the Apothecaries’ Hall was established in Cecilia Street, Dublin, which received the necessary recognition from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.[8] In 1854, the buildings and contents were purchased for £1500 in the name of Andrew Ellis FRCSI, Professor of Surgery in the School of Apothecaries' Hall at Cecilia Street, and a Catholic, to form the Catholic University Medical School which opened in 1855.[9]

In 1923, Apothecaries’ Hall moved to 95 Merrion Square, which was sold in 2011. The Company of Apothecaries’ Hall is now hosted by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland whose premises on Kildare Street it shares.[4]

External links[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Webb, John J (1929). The Guilds of Dublin. London: Ernest Benn.
  2. ^ a b c Clark & Refausee (1993). Directory of Historic Dublin Guilds. Dublin: Dublin Public Libraries. ISBN 0-94684-1438.
  3. ^ "Worshipful Society of Apothecaries".
  4. ^ a b c Harriet Wheelock (October 2011). "Apothecaries' Hall of Ireland: ACC/2011/3" (PDF). Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2014-08-21.
  5. ^ Cameron, Sir C. A (1916). History of the Royal College of Surgeons. Dublin: Fannin and Company./</ Cameron
  6. ^ George Newenham (1825). An Historical Guide to the city of Dublin.
  7. ^ Widdess, J. D. H. (1984). The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and its Medical School, 1784-1984 (3rd ed.). Dublin: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Publications Department. p. 4.
  8. ^ Barr, Colin (2003). Paul Cullin, John Henry Newman and the Catholic University of Ireland 1845-1865. Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 0-85244-594-6.
  9. ^ Fleetwood, John F. (1983). The History of Medicine in Ireland. Dublin: The Skellig Press.