Apothecaries' Hall of Dublin

Originally one of the guilds of the city of Dublin, the Apothecaries' Hall was a regulatory body for apothecaries and later medicine.



Carved rhino from the mace of the Apothecaries' Hall of Dublin
Carved rhino from the mace of the Apothecaries' Hall of Dublin

The organisation of the trade of the apothecary in Ireland started with the Guild of St Mary Magdalene in 1446 – the earliest medical establishment in these islands. This Guild was originally constituted of apothecaries, barber-surgeons and periwig makers. In 1746, a Royal Charter of King George II established a separate Guild of St. Luke for the Dublin Apothecaries, with powers to regulate the profession. This was the last, and twenty fifth, guild created in Dublin. The roles of the guilds included governance of the City of Dublin in addition to their trade standards, mutual support, and educational roles. In 1791, The Apothecaries’ Hall Act was passed by parliament, establishing the Company of Apothecaries’ Hall. Amongst other provisions of this Act, was the extension of the regulatory and educational roles – of what had been limited in the Guild to the environs of Dublin – to the whole of Ireland. Under the Act, which is still in force, the Company is comprised of a governor, deputy governor, thirteen directors and up to 60 Members. The 1791 Act regulated the training of apothecaries, which required an apprenticeship of seven years. The Company also had the authority to examine and issue certificates to Apprentice Apothecaries, Journeyman Apothecaries and Master Apothecaries (who could open a pharmaceutical shop).

Under the 1858 Medical Act, the qualification of Licentiate of Apothecaries’ Hall (LAH) was included as one of the recognised qualifications to practice medicine in these islands. Apothecaries’ Hall was an examining and licensing body for medicine, not a teaching one. Applicants had to present evidence of adequate attendance at lectures and clinical instruction before sitting the examinations. In 1971, the General Medical Council (UK) and the Medical Registration Council of Ireland removed the Hall’s Licentiate as one of their recognised medical qualifications.


The Apothecaries' Hall today

The Armorial Bearings of the Company of Apothecaries’ Hall
The Armorial Bearings of the Company of Apothecaries’ Hall

In 2011 Apothecaries’ Hall sold their building at 95, Merrion Square. The Hall’s archive, portrait and object collection were transferred to the RCPI Heritage Centre, where they are available for researchers to consult. The Company of Apothecaries’ Hall continues to the present day and is hosted within the RCPI Heritage Centre.

Today the focus of Apothecaries’ Hall is on the promotion and preservation of the history of medicine and pharmacy in Ireland. The Hall runs an annual Charles Lucas Memorial Lecture on an aspect of the history of pharmacy in Ireland. With RCPI the Company has funded two PhDs in the history of medicine. These were awarded to

2015-2018 - Fiona Shannon for her research project 'Traditional Medicinal Knowledge documented in the Schools Manuscript Collection: An insight into the medical beliefs, practices and healing plants used in 1930s Ireland’ (Trinity College Dublin)

2020-2026 - Harriet Wheelock for her research project 'Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s Collections: From museum for the profession to museum of the profession' (TU Dublin)

Medical Dublin Walking Tour

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Charles Lucas Memorial Lectures

You can watch webcasts of all the previous Charles Lucas Memorial Lectures using the links below. Please note that no lectures were held between 2020 and 2022 due to the COVID 19 pandemic.