Lucy E. Smith MD BCh BAO DPH

First female obstetrician practicing in Cork. Possibly first female medical doctor to be appointed to a female prison in the United Kingdom. She was visiting physician to Cork Women’s Prison. During the First World War she served at the Victoria (now Collins) Barracks attending wounded soldiers as well as women and children.

Second female graduate in medicine from Queen’s College Cork (the first was Dr Dora E. Allman five months previously).

Only female member of the first Governing Body of University College Cork in 1908.[1]

The Dr Lucy E. Smith Room on the fourth floor of The Hub, UCC, is named in her honour. Smith studied in this building when a student.


Lucy Smith was born on 25 July 1870 at Broderick Street, Midleton, Co. Cork (registered as Rebecca Lucinda Eleanor Smith). Her parents were John Anderson Smith MA (1832-95), Presbyterian Minister, and Matilda Margaret Parke (1839 Co. Down-1910 Cork). Lucy’s siblings were Major-General John Blackburn Smith, and twins Dr Robert James Smith and Matilda Agnes Smith. Both her brothers were also medical doctors.


Lucy was registered for the academic year 1890-1 at Queen’s College Cork in Arts (aged 20). In the following year, she was registered in Medicine.[2] She passed her final Medical degree examinations in the Autumn of 1898[3] and conferred MB BCh BAO on 28 October 1898.[4] In 1902 she earned the degree of MD and in 1909 the Diploma in Public Health at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ireland.

Dr Smith lived at 2 Verdon Place, Wellington Road, Cork.[5] She died on 23 March 1929, at the age of 58.[6] There were obituaries in Irish newspapers and British Medical Journal.[7] Probate of her estate of £1,433 was granted on 16 September 1929 to her brother Robert J. Smith MB. She is buried in Douglas cemetery, Cork.[8]


Medical consultant. Physician to the City and County Lying-in Hospital (Erinville), Central Board of Midwifery in Ireland. Assistant visiting physician, Home for Protestant Incurables, Military Hill, Cork,[9]  until her death. Visiting physician to the Cork Female Gaol until c.1922.

Dr Smith was a Member of the British Medical Association and President of the BMA Munster branch (1909) as well as member of the Branch Council (1911-1928). She was an accredited correspondent of the British Medical Journal.
She attended the first meeting of the Irish Association of Women Graduates and Candidate Graduates in May 1902;[10] Hon. Secretary, Women’s National Health Association of Ireland Cork Branch.[11]
A memorial in the form of a bed dedicated to Dr Lucy E. Smith at Erinville Hospital, Western Road, Cork, was funded by subscriptions.[12] This maternity hospital closed in early 2000s. A plaque with her photo is in Cork University Maternity Hospital.



Newspapers: Cork Examiner, Evening Echo, British Medical Journal, Freeman’s Journal, Irish Independent

National Archives of Ireland: 1901 and 1911 Census, 1929 Will Calendar General Register Office records

Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland: Roll of Licentiates 

UCC Charter 1908


Froggatt, Peter, ‘Competing philosophies: the ‘Preparatory’ medical schools of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and the Catholic University of Ireland, 1835-1909’, in Greta Jones, Elizabeth Malcolm (eds), Medicine, Disease and the State in Ireland, 1650-1940 (Cork University Press, 1999), 59-84 (p.75)

Kelly, Laura, Irish women in medicine, c.1880-1920s: origins, education and careers (Manchester UP, 2013). Based on her PhD thesis, Irish Medical Women c.1880s-1920s: the origins, education and careers of early women medical graduates from Irish institutions, NUIG 2010 

There was no entry in Dictionary of Irish Biography as of 09/07/2019.



[1] A Charter for University College Cork, 02/12/1908; Freeman’s Journal, 23/07/1908, p.7.

[2] QCC Admissions Registers, UCC University Archives, OCLA, UCC.

[3] Royal University of Ireland Calendar 1899, p.458.

[4] RUI Calendar 1899, p.408.

[5] 1911 Census and newspapers advertisements.

[6] Death notice, Cork Examiner, 25/03/1929, p.1.

[7] British Medical Journal, 29/04/1929, p.711. Irish Independent, 25/03/1929, p.5.

[8] Cork Examiner, 26/03/1929, p.1.

[9] Cork Examiner, 17/03/1923, p.3.

[10] Freeman’s Journal, 20/05/1902.

[11] Evening Echo, 13 October 1908, p.3.

[12] Cork Examiner, 06/05/1929, 8; 27/05/1929, p.1; 24/07/1929, p.8.

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