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28 May 2024  

NUI celebrates Dr Mary J. Farrell on International Women’s Day


Dr Mark Empey at the 2012 NUI Awards Ceremony with NUI Chancellor, Dr Maurice Manning and fellow NUI Awards recipients

To mark International Women’s Day 2018, NUI wishes to feature Dr Mary J. Farrell, one of our early women graduates of medicine.

Dr Mary J. Farrell was born in 1892 and graduated from UCD in 1916 with a first class honours degree in MB BCh BAO and then went to further postgraduate study in the 1920s, completing an MD in 1921, MAO in 1922 and Diploma in Public Health in 1924.

Mary J. Farrell was the daughter of James P. Farrell MP, member of the Irish Parliamentary Party and founder of the Longford Leader.

For a woman of her generation, she had a fascinating career. She worked in England in 1917 where she treated veterans of World War 1. Later, she volunteered with the West African Medical Service for two years. She practised medicine in Waterford for a time, and eventually, in 1930, she took the position of dispensary doctor in Longford town. She practised medicine there until her retirement in 1963, where she was well known for her treatment of TB patients and her work and care for the Travelling community.

A plaque commemorating the life and times of the Longford doctor, was unveiled at the College Medical Centre, Ballinalee Road in Longford town in May 2017. The event was organised by County Longford Historical Society and the Farrell Family, with the support of Dr Mel Gorman and his colleagues at the medical centre.

Source: Kitty Hughes, ‘Dr Mary Farrell, MD MAO DPH, 1892-1973’ (Unpublished, 2017)

NUI would like to thank Lucius Farrell, nephew of Mary J. Farrell, for further details and permission to use the photograph above.


2018 marks the one hundredth anniversary of women’s suffrage. Later this year, NUI in collaboration with Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute (MUSSI) will host a symposium: Voices: the participation of women in the political life of the State, 1918-2018, to commemorate women’s suffrage. Further details will be announced shortly.

The Houses of the Oireachtas, under the banner of Vótáil 100, are coordinating a series of events for this special year. Details are available on their website.


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