In 1911, the visionary philanthropist Andrew Charles F.R.C.S.I. founded a voluntary hospital in Hume Street to provide “for the treatment of diseases of the skin, cancer, rodent ulcer, lupus, kidney and other urinary diseases”. In 1916 the hospital was granted a royal charter from George V, the last such to be granted to any voluntary hospital in the country.

The City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital - A brief history

Andrew Charles 1912

The first meeting of the Management Committee of the Dublin Skin, Cancer, and Urinary Hospital was held In June 1911 under the Chairmanship of Mr. J. T. Wood-Latimer and the Hospital opened in rented premises in No. 3 Hume Street on 20th July 1911. A year later this house was purchased for £450. By 1935 the remainder of the south side of Hume Street had been purchased. This prescient investment provided the legacy that has permitted the spirit of the Hospital to live on in the twenty-first century as The Charles Institute at University College Dublin.


The City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital provided outstanding care to patients throughout Ireland from 1911 to 2006. However, when the old Georgian buildings were deemed unsuitable for the requirements of a modern hospital, it became necessary to close the hospital and transfer the dermatology services to St. Vincent’s University Hospital. In November 2006, the City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital, which had served the people of Ireland from its premises in Hume Street for just a century, was sold.


The Charter of the City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital was granted by George V in 1916. The first voluntary hospital in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Charitable Infirmary, had been granted a charter by George III in 1792, thus beginning the voluntary hospital movement that provided heath care throughout Ireland until the close of the twentieth century. The charter of the City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital was amended in 2007 to facilitate the administration of the Hospital’s fiscal legacy for the improvement of the research, treatment and management of skin disease in accordance with the stared principles of the founding fathers. The modified Charter also accommodated changes in business and social life, among which was the admission of women to the Board of Management. The proceeds from the sale of the Hospital on Hume Street continue to be administered by a Board of Management elected annually in accordance with the Charter.


Dr. Andrew Charles (1880-1933), one of the founders of the Hospital on Hume Street, was a dominant figure in the first quarter of the Hospital’s existence. Dr. Frank Charles, who joined the staff to assist his older brother, died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. The first matron of the Hospital, Elizabeth Charles, was a sister of Andrew Charles. Andrew Charles’s son Havelock Charles (1905-1980) joined the staff in 1934 and worked there until his death and his wife, Iris, was a member of the Ladies Guild for many years.


A detailed account of the history of Hume Street Hospital can be found in Eoin O’Brien’s ‘ A Century of Service: A history of the city of Dublin Skin & Cancer Hospital’, available for download on the right hand side of this page.