Instruments & Innovations, new publication from RCSI Library

The RCSI Library team is delighted to announce the publication of Instruments & Innovations, a new online publication highlighting the historical legacy of innovation in RCSI. The publication showcases 10 medical device innovations and adaptations by figures connected to RCSI with illustrations and historical context, highlighting RCSI’s long history of positive impact on public health and improving patient experience.

Featured instruments and innovations include:

  • the first blood transfusion in Ireland which has a unique connection to Bram Stoker’s blood-thirsty Dracula
  • the trepan, a tool used to drill a hole in a head
  • the stethoscope which took on its modern form thanks to RCSI graduate Arthur Leared
  • the butcher’s saw which cut through bone more evenly than any other saw
  • the aural snare developed by William Wilde, father of Oscar Wilde.

This project began as RCSI Library’s first Research Summer School project with two undergraduate students who laid the groundwork for further investigation and development by the Heritage Team.

Commenting on the publication, Ms Kate Kelly, Director of Library Services said “RCSI holds a unique place in the history of surgery and medical education in Ireland since the late 1700s. We are delighted to share these highlights from our collections with the public for the first time, sharing unique facts about the history of medicine in Ireland.”

Dr Ronan Kelly can be seen discussing the exhibits in further detail in the RTÉ News feature ‘Before anaesthesia: What was medical practice like in 19th-century Ireland’.

The digital publication is available to view for free online at the RCSI Digital Heritage Collection Website, a platform which also hosts other online exhibitions showcasing RCSI’s history and heritage.

Congratulations to the Library’s Heritage Collections team members Susan Leyden, Dr Ronan Kelly and Mary O’Doherty for their work on this publication.