Dr Mary Strangman honoured at City Hall

Dr Mary Strangman honoured at City Hall

Dr Mary Strangman was honoured on Friday, March 22nd at City Hall as the Large Room was named in her honour.

Born in Carriganore in 1872 to Thomas Handcock Strangman and Sarah White Strangman, Mary was home-schooled with her six siblings.  In 1891 she entered the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), the first medical school in the UK and Ireland to admit women on equal terms with men, along with her sister Lucia.

After graduation she built a pioneering medical career in the UK and was awarded the fellowship of the RCSI in 1902, the second Irishwoman to achieve such a distinction.

Dr Mary Strangman honoured at City Hall
Joefy Murphy, a relative of Dr Mary Strangman, Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr Joe Conway and Michael Walsh Chief Executive Waterford City and County Council photos thanks to Patrick Browne

Mary returned to Waterford in 1903 where she set up practice, championing public health and advocating for women’s rights.  As a suffragist, she was acutely aware of the inequities in women’s healthcare and franchise rights and when in 1911 women became eligible for election to local council, she stood for election, becoming Waterford’s first female councillor on January 15th, 1912.

As an elected representative, she served on the Public Health Committee, advocating for policies aimed at improving the well-being of all.  She retired from public office in 1920. In 1923 she was appointed physician at Waterford County and City Infirmary, and also continued in general practice until shortly before her death in January 1943.

Dr Mary Strangman honoured at City Hall
Cllr Mary Roche, Mayor of Waterford City and County Cllr Joe Conway and Joefy Murphy photo thanks to Patrick Browne

Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr Joe Conway paid tribute to her remarkable achievements, saying “Dr Strangman’s dedication to public health, and research in the areas of women’s health, nutrition, and addiction marked her out as a remarkable person in any era, but especially in her own.

“She also championed the plight of women, working in a voluntary capacity with local female charities and it is only right that we mark her achievements here today.”

He added, “In renaming this function room in City Hall the Dr Mary Strangman Large Room, we pay tribute to her achievements and reaffirm our commitment to upholding the values she held dear. May this dedication serve as an inspiration for us to continue her work of building a more equitable and inclusive society for us all.”

The motion to rename the Large Room was proposed at last September’s Plenary Council meeting by Cllr Mary Roche.  “Mary Strangman was ahead of her time.  Not only was she a medical professional who championed the introduction of an accessible and fair public health system for all, she advocated for women.  Working tirelessly with numerous local female charities, she was undoubtedly a vital catalyst for the foundation and success of Waterford’s suffrage activities.

“Today, her legacy is more relevant than ever, and I am proud that we are honouring an eminent doctor, an advocate for social reform and a champion of women’s rights here today.”

A production by the Minaun Community Theatre Group paying homage to the remarkable life and legacy of Dr Strangman followed the renaming ceremony.

In August 2023, a Blue Plaque was unveiled to commemorate Dr Strangman at her historical family home at Carriganore House (SETU West Campus).