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Practices and Cultures of Care in Irish Medical History

Specialist workshop
2-3 June 2005
Organisers: Catherine Cox (CHM/UCD) and Maria Luddy (History, Warwick)

The focus of this workshop is the examination of the practices and cultures of care in Irish medical history. The objective of the workshop is to bring together historians currently working in the field of Irish medical history to explore a variety of themes.

The relationship between the ‘professional’ practice of medicine and fringe practices – quack and popular – has become a common debate amongst historians of medicine. The tensions between these groups in the Irish context, however, are relatively neglected. The workshop will provide an opportunity to consider whether such tension existed, and what it meant for the ways in which medicine was practiced in Ireland. For example, did a ‘medical marketplace’ exist?

The theme of child and maternity care will also be explored, from the early-modern to the modern period. A number of speakers will analyse the extent to which the bodies of mothers and children were appropriated and politicised by the concerns of the state, the medical profession and the Catholic Church. Finally the management, legal construction and therapeutic responses to mental illness and the relationship with suicide and infanticide will be considered. The workshop will re-visit many of the historiographical debates within medical history and consider their application to the Irish context.

Provisional Programme

Session One: Practice and the Professions

Dr James McGeachie
Sir William Wilde (1815-1876): Practice and Self-presentation in the Medical World of Victorian Dublin

Dr Michael Clark
General Practice and Coroners' Practice: Medico-Legal Work and the Irish Medical Profession

Session Two: Fakers and Charlatans?

Dr James Kelly
Health for Sale: Doctors, Mountebanks and Quacks and the Purveying of Medication in Eighteenth-Century Ireland

Dr Patricia Lynch
Conventional Medicine vis-a-vis Folk Medicine in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland

Session Three: Mother and Child: Cultures of Care

Dr Clodagh Tait
Sources for the Study of Childbirth and Maternal and Infant Mortalily in Early Modern Ireland

Dr Lindsey Earner Byrne
The Dublin Experiment: A Mother and Child Rehearsal, 1945-1956

Cliona Rattigan
Half-mad at the Time: Unmarried Mothers and Infanticide in Ireland, 1922-1949

Session Four: Meanings of Insanity

Dr Georgina Laraghy
Suicide and Mental Illness in Ireland, 1831-1921

Dr Oonagh Walsh
Cure or Custody: Therapeutic Philosophy at the Connaught District Lunatic Asylum

Session Five: Irish Medical History: A Healthy Pursuit?

Professor Mary E. Daly
The History of Medicine in Ireland: Future Directions

Round-table Discussion