Corrigan, Dominic

Sir Dominic Corrigan (1802-1880)

Clinical descriptions in cardiology,  respiratory disease  – Corrigan’s Sign, Corrigan’s Pulse, Corrigan’s Disease

Dominic Corrigan was born in 1802 in Thomas St, Dublin, the son of a poor shopkeeper, dealing in hardware.

He grew up shortly after Catholic Emancipation was achieved in Ireland, and therefore had opportunities denied to his predecessors.  He was educated at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, where he was influenced by the school physician and his teacher to study science and medicine.

He studied medicine at TCD, and then went to Edinburgh, gaining his MD in 1825, with William Stokes.  He returned to work with the sick poor without a hospital appointment.  However, his work on aortic disease was published in the Lancet, and he was eventually given the post of Physician to the Charitable Infirmary (Jervis St) in 1831. In 1832, he published his classic clinical descriptions of aortic incompetence, including Corrigan’s Pulse, and Corrigan’s Sign.  He also linked aortic disease to angina.  In 1840, he became physician to the Richmond Hospital, and made further clinical descriptions of pulmonary fibrosis.  He was granted an honorary MD from TCD in 1849 for his dedicated work, especially during the Famine years.

After being originally refused admission to the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, reputedly due to Robert Grave’s opposition, he was elected in 1856.  He then became its president for an unprecedented five times.  During his office, the RCPI became the first college in these islands to admit women.  There is a statue of him in the Great Hall of the RCPI in Kildare St.  He is reputed to have said: The trouble with doctors is not that they don’t know enough, but that they don’t see enough.

He was made a baronet in 1866, and became a Liberal MP for Dublin for five years from 1869.  It is suggested that his support for the Sunday Closing Bill antagonised powerful interests in the alcohol companies, leading to his succession by Arthur Guinness.

He died in 1880 and is buried in the crypt of  St Andrews Church on Westland Row, Dublin.

He is still remembered and honoured by the clinical names of his descriptions in medicine: Corrigan’s Pulse, and Sign.


Coakley, D. (1997)  Irish Masters of Medicine,  Town House,


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