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The Mater Hospital: Where History is Made





The Mater Hospital in Dublin first opened its doors in 1861. It has a fascinating although often forgotten history. From using cocaine as pain relief in the 19th century to treating the wounded of the 1916 Rising, the hospital has always been a fascinating place.

Strange as it sounds, it is also where I first came up with the idea to start podcasting. In 2010 having been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease I was unable to work and to keep myself occupied I started making this show. Fast forward ten years and nearly 20 operations, podcasting has now become my full time career.


In this show I return to the Mater to look at the extraordinary history of the hospital. In what is a very special episode recorded in the old victorian wing, I look at what the hospital was like in the late 19th century. The archivist Helen Madden gives fascinating insights into

  • What was 19th century operations were like.

  • What was hospital food like in the early days?

  • How the Mater treated those injured in the 1916 Rising

  • The story of the republican hunger-striker Thomas Ashe who died in the Mater in 1917.

  • How tensions rose between the hospital staff and the IRA during the War of Independence after a patient in a nearby hospital was executed!


I also interviewed Prof Ronan Cahill about the extraordinary history being made in the Mater today through the use of robotics and AI. I would like to thank Helen Madden & Professor Ronan Cahill for taking the time to talk to me and Debbie Killeen for her work in making this episode possible.

“From the creator of the Irish History Podcast comes the story of Modern Ireland and its people written in death” 

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