Monthly Archives: March 2018

Galway Medical School, the early days

The above advertisement appeared in the Galway Vindicator in November 1859. The above lecture by Professor King, was one of many given by professors and lecturers at the newly formed Queen’s College Galway. The new educational institute was doing well considering the odds stacked up against it.

Firstly it was highly condemned by the Catholic Church, as they didn’t hold any office in the college, it was by and large a Protestant institution, however Catholic students were widely accepted. But the institution was a ‘Godless College’ to their mind.  A bigger obstacle still was the lack of secondary education in the West of Ireland, which allowed students to matriculate in the college. Students did come from other parts of the country making it viable to have a centre of learning in Galway.

One such student was Emily’s brother William Henry Emeris Burke. His given address on the college register for 1863 was Edenderry, Kings County [modern day Offaly], where his parents, Rev. and Mrs Burke lived at the time.

The Faculty of Anatomy was in its first few years, and students had to finish their degree elsewhere. It survived against the odds perhaps that was due to the staff who offered public lectures. According to James P. Murray in his book on the medico-social history of Galway.

“Galway newspapers frequently carried items of news concerning the College, which was evidently a source of interest and pride to the people of Galway. That interest was fostered by the academic staff: they gave their introductory lectures as public lectures which were well attended and applauded, the College staff participated in local social and cultural activities and many professors became prominent in local affairs.”

Perhaps you William Burke attended one of those lectures.

Galway Vindicator, and Connaught Advertiser 02 November 1859
Galway : a Medico-Social history,Galway : Kenny’s Bookshop and Art Gallery 1994, James P. Murray

Queen’s College Medical School

William Henry Emeris Burke was accepted at Queen’s College Medical School in 1862. He was not quite eighteen. A bright pupil he had a promising career ahead, no matter what he chose to do.

At the time the College had just began to offer a course in medicine. It was only two years long and the students had to attend other colleges in order to qualify as a doctor. This explains why William Henry Emeris Burke disappeared from the college records after 1864.

“Because of the inadequate hospital facilities in Galway it was not possible to obtain the required certificates without spending sometime elsewhere, usually in Dublin, London or Scotland.”

To Dublin, London and Scotland he went.

Galway : a medico-social history,Galway : Kenny’s Bookshop and Art Gallery 1994, James P. Murray