Dr David Durnin (UCD Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland, University College Dublin)
‘It is our Duty’: Medical Provision and the Irish Experience of the First World War
UCD Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland Seminar Series, 30 March 2017. This event was funded by kind support from the Wellcome Trust.
Some 210,000 Irish personnel enlisted to serve with the British Armed Forces during the First World War. Among these were Irish medics – doctors, surgeons and general practitioners who participated in the conflict.
This paper looks at the response of Irish medical personnel to the First World War. It analyses enlistment patterns and determines how international initiatives, such as the creation of specialised recruitment committees, were adopted in Ireland and influenced the trends of Irish medical enlistment into the Royal Army Medical Corps – the medical wing of the British Army. Irish medical involvement in the First World War was not just limited to the enlistment of men into the British Army medical services.
The Royal Army Medical Corps command also identified Ireland’s network of hospitals as an appropriate support system for Britain’s military hospitals. This paper, therefore, also explores the effects of the Royal Army Medical Corps Irish Command’s attempts to establish a suitable medical set-up to receive sick and wounded soldiers who were returned to Ireland and outline how this impacted on civilian medical care.
Dr David Durnin, historian of medicine and war, was an IRCHSS Doctoral Scholar at the UCD Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland. He is the winner of the 2011 RCPI History of Medicine Research Award. His recently published edited collection,Medicine Health and the Irish Experience of Conflict 1914-45, is currently available from Manchester University Press.