Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, Minister of State for Higher Education, joins RCSI, Accenture and Business to Arts for Official Unveiling

Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, Minister of State for Higher Education, joined the leadership of RCSI and Accenture Ireland for the momentous ribbon cutting ceremony to launch the #WomenonWalls portrait commission at RCSI in partnership with Accenture.

Preceding the ribbon cutting, the Minister addressed the audience and recognised RCSI for its legacy of leadership in gender equality dating back to 1885 with the addition of Article 14 of the College’s Second Supplemental Charter, granted by Queen Victoria. Article 14 states:

“And we do hereby, for us, our heirs and successors, grant, declare, and appoint that all provisions of the Charter, Bye-Laws, and Ordinances as to education, examination, and granting diplomas to Fellows or Licentiates shall extend to include women.”

One of the eight women recognised today is Dr Mary Josephine Hannan, the first woman to both study and obtain her medical license at RCSI in 1890.

The Minister also announced she had secured Cabinet approval to seek university status for RCSI.


*Pictured above, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD poses with family members of Dean Mary Frances Crowley (pictured in portraiture), the founder of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at RCSI.

Pictured (L – R) front row: Mr Kenneth Mealy, President, RCSI; Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD; Professor Hannah McGee, Dean of Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, RCSI; Dr Michelle D. Cullen, Managing Director and Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Accenture Ireland; (back row) Professor Cathal Kelly, Registrar & CEO, RCSI; Mr Andrew Hetherington, CEO, Business to Arts; Dr Avril Hutch, Associate Director – Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, RCSI; Mr Alastair Blair, Managing Director, Accenture Ireland.

‘This is Why We Commemorate’ by Super Paua

Guests at the #WomenonWalls official unveiling were treated to a specially-commissioned spoken word performance entitled ‘We Commemorate’, written by Sian Ní Mhuirí and performed by Sian Ní Mhuirí with Aoife Dunne, actors with the Super Paua theatre company.

In collaboration with the RCSI Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit and RCSI’s Heritage Collections team in the Library, Sian wrote ‘We Commemorate’ which brings to life the trail blazing achievements of the #WomenOnWalls subjects with reference to the difficult social and cultural environments through which they women adeptly navigated and refused to inhibit their ability to pursue their passions.

Six artists, carefully capturing the essence of their muse.
Such a commemoration is an act of poetic restitution
Such an action gently admits that female genius has
Been overlooked in many far-seeing institutions
Such a rich addition to the living history
Of medicine and science
An artistic, a generous, a colourful defiance
A simple re-configuring of gendered expectation.

– Excerpt from ‘This is Why We Commemorate’


The enthralling performance incorporated a call and response style conversation with witty word play and honest recollections of the lives of the 8 women celebrated in portraiture: Dr Victoria Coffey, Dean Mary Frances Crowley, Dr Emily Winfred Dickson, Dr Margaret (Pearl) Dunlevy, Dr Mary Josephine Hannan, Sr Dr Maura Lynch, Dr Barbara Maive Stokes and Dr Mary Parker Somerville Strangman.

The performance began with Sian addressing the audience from the back of the hall from the minstrel gallery, where female guests once sat during the annual RCSI Charter Day dinner with the seats on the main floor of the Hall reserved for RCSI fellows and members only. The actors moved through the seated audience regaling their poem and culminated at the main stage and, together, in homage, called out the names of the women with their full professional titles.

Read the full script here.

Listen to the audio recording here.