Over the past 250 years, Irish medical scientists and doctors have pioneered numerous new medical treatments, techniques and instruments, ranging from the modern stethoscope to the cause of yellow fever.

You could say that our health system and medical-science began in 1654, when several men gathered in Dublin to found the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

The previous century had been a bad time for sick people in Ireland: the monasteries, which traditionally cared for the sick, were closed by Henry VIII, and the once powerful medical clans had disappeared.

The situation began to improve in the 1650s, with the arrival of some college-educated physicians: unlike the old order, these were Protestants who had studied at Dublin's new Trinity College or came to Ireland with Cromwell.

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