Parasitology was represented in Ireland for many years by the ‘Irish Society of Parasitology’. While no records of this society have survived, it is thought to have been founded by Professor Fergus O’Rourke of University College Cork, in the 1950s. It apparently met infrequently and sporadically, reflecting the limited amount of research then taking place in the country. The final meeting appears to have been in the 1970s at the UCD Faculty of Agriculture, then located in the Albert College, Glasnevin, Dublin (now part of Dublin City University).
The numbers of parasitologists in Ireland increased markedly in the 1980s, many of whom met up regularly in the UK at meetings of the British Society for Parasitology and/or the Association of Veterinary Teachers and Research Workers. By the early 1990s it was evident that there was sufficient interest amongst a small number of Irish research parasitologists to re-launch the ‘Irish Parasitology Interest Group’ in the Veterinary College, UCD, Ballsbridge, Dublin, in March 1993. At this meeting, the eminent parasitologist Lawson Soulsby (as E. J. L. Soulsby, the author of some highly influential textbooks, and since 1990 Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior) presented a lecture entitled ‘A Worm's Eye View - 21st Century Outlook’. The seminar was very well attended with more than 50 participants, and also received significant sponsorship from veterinary pharmaceutical companies.
With this encouragement the Irish Society for Parasitology was duly inaugurated and had its first meeting on 1st-2nd October 1993 at St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin. At the AGM during this meeting, Professor Rob Lee was voted in as the first ISP President, supported by an executive consisting of an Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, and six general members including two graduate students. Over the next few months a Constitution was formulated, which although remaining in draft form for many years, has formed the basis for the functioning of the society. Annual meetings have taken place at varied venues since the formation of the society. Now the society has become firmly established, with a large mailing list