On my recent trip, I had the pleasure of visiting the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in Dublin. Its 200-year-old main building is steeped in history. During the 1916 uprising that led to Ireland's independence, the rebels used it as a billet. Pockmarks from British bullets are still visible on its front columns.
Today the RCSI houses a medical school with a diverse international student body. Thanks to my gracious host, vascular surgeon Sean Tierney, I was able to tour the college's modern classrooms. I also saw a well-equipped simulation laboratory and took part in some virtual reality exercises.
In one of the many beautifully appointed rooms is a statue of William Dease, a noted surgeon who was one of the founders of the RCSI in 1784 and its fifth president. He was also a member of the Society of United Irishmen which started the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
Although the circumstances surrounding Dease's death are somewhat unsettled, the most popular version of the story is that in June 1798 he learned he was about to be arrested because of his association with the United Irishmen and committed suicide by slicing open his femoral artery.
In 1886 his grandson donated a statue of Dease to the college. Some years later the statue developed a crack in a most unusual location. The photograph below shows why.