Famous visitors of The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
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Famous visitors of The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

June 08 th

Stokes Table

Many important visitors were those who have been made Honorary Fellows. Admission to Honorary Fellowship is the highest honour the College can bestow. It is reserved for world leaders in medical science and those who have made an exceptional contribution to society. Honorary Fellows of RCPI include many former presidents of Ireland; Eamon de Valera (1882-1975) on St. Luke’s Day 1967 (as part of the historic Tercentenary celebrations), president of Ireland from 1959-1973; Erskine Childers (1905-1974), the fourth president of Ireland, in office 1973-1974 and Patrick John Hillery, sixth president of Ireland from 1976-1990.

The College wished to bestow an Honorary Fellowship on HRH Princess Margriet of the Netherlands in October 1922 to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of the King and Queen’s College of Physicians of Ireland but the Fellows were informed that it was policy for the Dutch Royal Family not to accept Honorary Fellowships from overseas institutions, and so it was then decided to award the Dutch Princess with the prestigious Stearne Medal; which was created in 1979 by RCPI to be awarded to persons of distinction who have made a contribution to medicine in Ireland. Mary Robinson was made an Honorary Fellow at the same time as HRH Princess Margriet was nominated. Robinson was the seventh president and first female president of Ireland from 1990-1997. She left office to take up the position as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002. She was a member of the Irish Senate from 1969 to 1989. Mary McAleese, born in Belfast in 1951, became an Honorary Fellow of the College in 2004 she served as the eight president of Ireland from 1997-2011. She was the second female president of the Republic of Ireland succeeding Mary Robinson and was re-elected for a second term in office in 2004. Michael D Higgins, Ireland’s ninth president of Ireland, received an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Irish society on 28 March 2014. RCPI President at the time, Professor John Crowe, said the College had chosen President Higgins as an Honorary Fellow as the head of State and in that role, as an ambassador for the health of the nation.

Bob Geldof, the Irish singer, songwriter, author, occasional actor and political activist was made an Honorary Fellow in November 2011 by Professor John Crowe, president of RCPI at the time for his work for people in the developing world. Geldof was leader of the Irish rock band The Boomtown Rats in the late 1970s and early 1980s and was appointed an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II. He is a recipient of the Man of Peace title which recognizes individuals who have made ‘an outstanding contribution to International social justice and peace’.

Former US Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney were made Honorary Fellows of RCPI at the Fellowship admission ceremony on 10 June 2011. Jean Ann Kennedy Smith (born February 20, 1928) is an American diplomat and a former United States Ambassador to Ireland. She is the eighth of nine children born to Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald and is their last surviving child. Her siblings include President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, longtime Senator Ted Kennedy, and Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Irish President Mary McAleese conferred honorary Irish citizenship on Smith in 1998 in recognition of her service to the country. In 1993, Smith was appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton as the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. She played a pivotal role in the peace process in Northern Ireland for almost five years before retiring the post.

Many actors and actresses have also visited No. 6 Kildare Street. The cast of Penny Dreadful; a British-American horror drama television series created for Showtime and Sky by John Logan. Helen McCrory, Timothy Dalton and Reeve Jefferson Carney to name but a few appear in this award winning show.

The home of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland at No. 6 Kildare Street has seen many famous and important visitors and doctors come through the door. If you would like to view the building steeped in history for a future event or wedding, don’t hesitate to drop in to see us or make an appointment with the General Manager, Sean McGettigan.