The Mater Hospital was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1852. In 1861, the hospital officially opened its doors, providing the best in medical care to all those who needed it - irrespective of their means. This philosophy and mission continues to this day.

The hospital has witnessed many of the most dramatic events in the nation's history. These included the cholera and Spanish flu epidemics, as well as the events of the revolutionary period and more recent troubles.

Centenary remembrance

The Mater Hospital, along with many of the other hospitals, cared for the dying and wounded of the 1916 Rising. As it is the last remaining adult hospital from that period still operating on its original site, the staff decided to organise a number of events on the occasion of the centenary. These included:

  • A display documenting the events in and around the hospital before and during the Rising
  • A play, co–written by a relative of the 1916 leaders, performed by staff in the Freeman Auditorium
  • A mass in remembrance of those killed in the rising

    See the Stories from 1916 website here for accounts and a podcast recording of a member of staff working in the Mater Hospital during the 1916 Rising.

Plans for our heritage centre

Building on the work of Sr Eugene Nolan and others, the Mater Hospital is planning to establish a heritage centre at the hospital. This heritage centre will serve as a focal point where staff, patients and the general public can learn more about the hospital and it's rich history. The heritage centre will host exhibitions and displays and will demonstrate how the hospital has engaged with the social, political and medical changes in Ireland for over 150 years.

The heritage centre will also be responsible for the care and maintenance of the hospital archives. In the future, we hope to make these archives available to the general public for research. 

Our hospital's timeline

2016 125th anniversary of nursing in the Mater Hospital

30th anniversary since the first heart transplant was carried out in Ireland at the hospital

10th anniversary of the first lung transplant at the Mater Hospital

Opening of new hematology/oncology day ward


Transformation Office

Lean academy established

2012 Opening of the new Whitty Wing

Mater Smithfield Rapid Injury Clinic opened

Rapid Access Prostate Clinic and Rapid Access Lung Clinic opened

2008 Neurological Institute officially opened by President of Ireland, Mary McAleese

First double lung transplant performed

Family Heart Screen Clinic opened


Clinical Research Centre established

Centre for Nurse Education opened


First lung transplant procedure performed

BreastHealth Mater Unit opened

2003 Pulmonary Hypertension Unit officially opened by President Mary McAleese
1993 National Spinal Injuries Unit opened
1989 New extension built with over 300 beds
1985 Heart transplant programme started
1972 Shooting attempt in hospital in an attempt to free an IRA prisoner
1955 Physiotherapy School opened
1952 First heart surgery procedure performed (mitral valvotomy)
1940 Physiotherapy Department opened
1935 First time blood transfusion is possible
1927 Insulin first introduced in Ireland at the Mater
1916 Hospital cares for dead and wounded from the Easter Rising
1914 - 1918 WW1 "hospital ships" bring injured soldiers to the Mater Hospital, and Mater doctors and nurses travel to the front lines to treat injured soldiers
1911 Golden Jubilee year (annual cost per bed £29-15-7d)
1906 Small purpose-built X-ray Department completed
1900 Queen Victoria visits
1891 School of Nursing opened
1888 First full-time pathologist in Ireland appointed
1878 First medical specialist appointed (obstetric physician)
1871 Smallpox epidemic – 800 patients admitted
1866 Cholera epidemic – 206 cholera patients admitted (annual budget £3,818-7-5d)
1861 Hospital formally opened on 24th September
1851 Land on Eccles Street acquired
1845 Permission to build a hospital granted