Researchers at UCD


Laura Kelly

Post Doc Research Fellow Lvl I

School Of History & Archives
Newman Building
Dublin 4



I am an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland (2012-2014). The project I am undertaking during this fellowship is entitled 'Merry boys and winsome women: Education, experiences and the shaping of the professional identity of Irish medical students, c.1800-1950'. 
Prior to joining UCD, I graduated with a B.A. degree in English and History from NUI Galway (2006) and an M.Litt in the history of medicine from the University of Glasgow (2007). I returned to NUI Galway for my doctoral research (2007-2010). My thesis, entitled 'Irish Medical Women, c.1880s-1920s: the origins, education and careers of early women medical graduates from Irish institutions' was the first comprehensive history of Irish women in medicine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My monograph Irish women in medicine, c.1880s-1920s: origins, education and careers was published by Manchester University Press in 2013. I was a lecturer in history at the Department of History, NUI Galway from 2011-2012. 

My main area of research is the social history of medicine in nineteenth and early twentieth century Ireland with particular interests in gender and medicine, the history of medical education, medical students and the medical profession. 


Honours and Awards

Year: 2013.
Title: Wellcome Trust Research Expenses Grant
Year: 2012.
Title: Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship
Year: 2012.
Title: Anna Parnell travel prize
Year: 2012.
Title: IRCHSS New Ideas conference grant
Year: 2011.
Title: American Association for the History of Medicine Travel Grant
Year: 2010.
Title: Wellcome Trust Workshop Grant
Year: 2009.
Title: Winner of the inaugural Irish history of medicine essay prize
Year: 2008.
Title: NUI Galway Arts Faculty travel grant
Year: 2008.
Title: Butler Eyles Travel Grant
Year: 2008.
Title: IRCHSS Doctoral studentship
Year: 2008.
Title: Wellcome Trust Research Expenses Grant
Year: 2007.
Title: NUI Galway Arts Faculty Postgraduate Fellowship
Year: 2006.
Title: Wellcome Trust Masters Studentship

Outreach Activities

I am the editor of the History of Medicine in Ireland blog which is a collaboration between the Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland and the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland. It aims to promote research in the medical humanities in Ireland. Link:



Kelly, Laura (2013) Irish women in medicine c.1880s-1920s: origins, education and careers. Manchester: Manchester University Press. [Details]

Book Chapters

Kelly, Laura (2009) 'Dame Anne Louise McIlroy; Britain's first female professor of medicine' In: Kelly, Laura (eds). Mulvihill, Mary, (ed.) Lab Coats and Lace: The lives and legacies of inspiring Irish women scientists and pioneers. Dublin: WITS. [Details]
Kelly, Laura (2013) 'Rickets and Irish Children: Dr Ella Webb and the early years of the Children's Sunshine Home, c.1924-1949' In: Maclellan, Anne and Mauger, Alice (eds). Growing pains: childhood illness in Ireland 1750-1950. Dublin: Irish Academic Press. [Details]

Edited Books

Rebecca Anne Barr, Sarah-Anne Buckley, Laura Kelly (Ed.). (2014) Engendering Ireland: new reflections on modern history and literature. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

Kelly, Laura (2010) 'Fascinating scalpel-wielders and fair dissectors: Women's experience of Irish medical education, c.1880s-1920s'. Medical History, . [Details]
Kelly, Laura (2011) 'Anatomy dissections and student experience at Irish universities c.1900-1960'. Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences, . [Details]
Kelly, Laura (2012) 'Migration and medical education: Irish medical students at the University of Glasgow, 1859-1900'. Irish Economic and Social History, . [Details]
Kelly, Laura (2013) ''The turning point in the whole struggle': the admission of women to the Irish College of Physicians'. Women's History Review, . [Details]


Research Interests

Current research: 'Merry boys and winsome women': Education, experiences and the shaping of the professional identity of Irish medical students, c.1800-1950 

Today's medical students are expected to be conscientious, intelligent and empathetic. This project will explore how ideas about what makes a 'good' doctor developed in Ireland in the period and how appropriate behaviour traits, sectarian divisions and the importance of science to medical professional identity were transmitted. Related to this, it will explore whether student decorum affected the status of the Irish medical profession. The project will explore the educational experiences of Irish medical students, examining the influence of European education systems on the Irish model. Drawing on a range of sources, including teaching aids and university calendars, it will explore how education was shaped by gender, location and religion. Utilising surviving hospital records, the project will assess the nature of students' clinical experience. Drawing on student society minute books, student magazines and the records of religious and political organisations outside university, the project will also assess the extra-curricular experiences of students in student societies and lay religious and political groups. Building on my previous research, the project will explore the experiences of women medical students after Irish independence.

Research Projects

Sponsor : The Wellcome Trust (WT)
Title : 'An 'awfully ignorant mob' or 'embryo doctors'?: Dissecting medical student culture and the shaping of professional identity in Ireland, c.1800-1950
Start Date / End Date : 28-APR-13 / 31-MAY-13



Modules Coordinated

201300   HIS31460     History: Medicine, Culture and Society