Dr Mary Josephine Hannan (1865 – 1935)

LRCPI and LM, LRCSI and LM 1890,  LM Rot. Hosp. Dub. 1890 (RCSI)

First woman to both train and qualify at the RCSI



Hannan, Mary Josephine (1865–1935), doctor, was born in Dublin; nothing is known of her parents.  One of the earliest female students admitted to study medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, she became in July 1890 the first Irishwoman to graduate LRCPI & SI and LM.

From Westmeath to India and Pakistan

At the time of her graduation she was residing in Riverstown, Killucan, Co. Westmeath; however, by 1892 she had moved to Rajputana, India, where she worked in the Victoria Hospital, Kotah State, and subsequently the Dufferin Hospital, Ulwar State. This was followed by a period in Shikarpar, Upper Sind, from 1894, where she held the post of medical officer at the Lady Dufferin Hospital, and was appointed honorary medical adviser to the Salvation Army.

After a period living and working in Cardiff, Wales (1896–9), she returned to Dublin in 1900, and for the next four years was based in Lower Mount St., where she seems to have lived and practised.

South Africa

In 1905 she moved to South Africa. After a period living in Pietermaritzburg, she settled in Pretoria in 1910, where she lectured in midwifery at the Victoria Maternity Hospital (1914–21), and served as medical officer to native women (1914–21) and later as medical officer for venereal diseases to native women and children. From 1918 she was also attached to the medical section of the Union Defence Force.

Throughout the 1920s she published several papers on public health. After a period living in Johannesburg (1924–7), she returned to Pretoria, retiring in 1931. Her later years appear to have been spent in Hartebeesport, Transvaal. Though she appears to have died in 1935, her name appears on the medical register till 1937.

Text by Frances Clarke.  Reproduced courtesy of the Dictionary of Irish Biography Online © 2018 Cambridge University Press and Royal Irish Academy

The project organisers are seeking an image of Mary Josephine Hannan. If you have a photograph of Hannan, or know any of her living relatives, please contact the RCSI at archivist@rcsi.ie.  

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