HomeJune 2022HMI origins stretch back to 1917

HMI origins stretch back to 1917

The Health Management Institute of Ireland, originally known as the Institute of Hospital Administrators, was founded in 1945 but its origins go back much earlier to the former Irish Hospital Registrars’ Association, founded in 1917. The Association was representative of the Registrars/Secretaries of the Dublin Voluntary Hospitals. 

Edward Byrne
Edward Byrne

It was decided in 1945 to establish the Institute of Hospital Administrators and it was formally incorporated on October 9 of that year

It was decided in 1945 to establish the Institute of Hospital Administrators and it was formally incorporated on October 9 of that year. One of its first tasks was to acquire and take over the existing assets of the Association. At the outset membership was confined to those with totally administrative duties. Over time this began to change and membership opened up to a wider cross-section of those working in the health services. The founding name, the Institute of Hospital Administrators, was, as the name suggests, hospital focused. In 1984, the name changed to the Institute of Hospital and Health Service Administrators, indicating its appeal to a broader membership. Finally, the Institute assumed its current name in 2005.

The purpose of the Institute is to promote, develop and maintain professional standards of competence in healthcare management in Ireland through education, training, research and dissemination of information for persons working in the health services.


Education and training have been the hallmark of the Institute’s activities from its inception. A major landmark in the development in this regard came in 1961 when the Diploma Course in Hospital Administration was inaugurated, in conjunction with the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee (now the City of Dublin Education and Training Board). The course was run in the College of Commerce, Rathmines, which developed strong links with the Institute over the ensuing years. This was the first formal course for hospital administration personnel in the Republic of Ireland and it was from this foundation that the Institute’s educational programme developed. The success of the Diploma course is due, in no small way, to the late Vincent Farrington, who died in July 2003. Vincent was Head of the School of Management Studies at the College of Commerce, Rathmines and he became involved at an early stage in assisting the Institute with the course structure and content and facilitating the lecture programme. He continued this association with the Institute over a period of 25 years until his retirement in 1989. For most of this period Vincent was Chairman of the Institute’s Education Committee, a role which he carried out with wisdom and diplomacy. During these years, the educational activities of the Institute developed and expanded and the courses increased in stature. The standards achieved in the Diploma and Higher Diploma Courses in Health Services Management were such that these courses were eventually taken over by the Dublin Institute of Technology and accorded degree status by Trinity College Dublin. The Institute owes a debt of gratitude to the late Vincent Farrington for his vision and leadership.

Following the success of the Diploma course, the Institute, in conjunction with the College of Technology, Kevin Street, Dublin, developed the certificate programme in Medical Records and Patient Services Management in 1981. Again, this proved to be a very successful course and the demand remained high. The course was finally taken over by the College of Technology, Kevin Street and incorporated it into its own syllabus.

Institute Office

Thanks to Hume Street Hospital and its Chief Executive, the late Ita Leahy- a long-time member- the Institute had an office there for almost 25 years until the hospital closed in 2006. Sadly, Ita died in January 2015.

Strategic Alliance with SHRC Limited

In 2001, The Institute entered into a strategic alliance with SHRC Limited, a Management and HR Consultancy Company, for the development and delivery of a suite of management training and health records management courses. SHRC is based in Sandyford in Dublin and the Institute avails of a serviced office there and SHRC attends to the day-to-day Institute enquiries.

International Dimension

The Institute has always looked further afield to Europe and beyond. It has been an active member of the European Association of Hospital Managers (EAHM) for many years and has contributed significantly to its deliberations. This has led to several exchange visits between Irish Healthcare Managers and their European counterparts. In 1993 the Institute, with the cooperation of a number of health agencies, organised a study tour in Ireland for 22 Danish Hospital Managers. Arising from this, the Institute received a reciprocal invitation for a study tour of Denmark in 1994, in which 18 took part. Both study tours were very successful. 

The EAHM organises a Congress every two years. In August 2006, the Institute organised the 21st Biennial Congress of the EAHM in Trinity College Dublin. This attracted 450 delegates from 31 countries. The congress was seen as being very successful and well organised as attested by Paul Castel, EAHM President and Willy Heuschen, General Secretary, who were very impressed with its scientific content. 

Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the last Congress had to be cancelled. 

Gerry O’Dwyer, Council member and CEO, South/South West Hospital Group served as EAHM President from 2014 until 2016 and is still a member of its Executive Committee. Lucy Nugent, Council Member and CEO, Tallaght Hospital also sits on the Executive Committee. 

The Institute has also been an active member of the Psychiatry Division of the EAHM.

From the early 1980s the (then) Midland Health Board co-ordinated the Hope Exchange Programme for young hospital managers, a role which a HSE staff member continues. Eamonn Fitzgerald, Council Member and VP Health, UPMC Ireland/International is HOPE Vice President.

The Institute had a number of other engagements at international level. In the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s several Nigerian students came to Dublin to pursue of the Institute’s Diploma programme, thus enhancing their career progression on their return to Nigeria. 

Following approaches from the Libyan Secretariat of Health, the Institute organised a full-time training course in hospital administration for eight Libyan students from February to June 1981. The programme involved visits to, and work experience in, a number of the Dublin hospitals in various departments, including Patient Services, Finance, Catering, X-ray and Laboratory.

At the request of PARC Hospital Management, the Institute planned, organised and delivered a course in Baghdad on Hospital and Health Services Management in March and May 1990. This was a very successful course and PARC was very pleased with the outcome.

In 1992, the Institute was again commissioned by PARC to plan, organise and deliver a course in Hospital Administration and Management for four Hospital Managers from Malaysia. The course was delivered in Dublin and was largely lecture-based, with some hospital visits.

Institute Conference

A conference has become an annual fixture in the Institute’s calendar, although this had to be suspended over the last two years due to Covid-19. The conference, which is pitched at senior healthcare personnel, attracts significant numbers of attendees. We have been honoured that the Minister for Health usually gives the keynote address.


The first President of the Institute was the much-loved Alfred William (‘Alfie’) McDermott, Secretary and Superintendent, St Laurence’s Hospital, Dublin (now subsumed into Beaumont Hospital). He served with distinction in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and was mentioned in dispatches for distinguished services in 1917. He was President from 1945 until 1961. Alfie died in 1970, in St Laurence’s Hospital, where he had worked for a long number of years. Tony Canavan, CEO, Saolta University Health Care Group, Galway, the current incumbent, is the 21stPresident of the Institute.


As the Institute reflects on the last 75 years it is fitting to record its gratitude to the many persons who have given so generously and voluntarily of their time and talents to ensure its success, thus contributing to the betterment of healthcare management in Ireland. The Institute has benefitted from the constant support and encouragement it receives from the Department of Health, the HSE and many other health agencies. It has been a privilege for me to have been part of this journey and I have learned so much along the way. I wish the Institute well as it looks forward to the next 75 years.

Ad multos annos

Edward (Ned) Byrne

HMI Honorary Secretary 1987-2011