‘The Branding Iron’

The experience of getting a vaccine ‘shot’ could, up to the mid-twentieth-century, be painful in a way that we would not recognise today due to comparatively unsophisticated equipment used. The vehicle of one particular shot was called ‘The Branding Iron’ by Joe Scanlon and his contemporaries.

Joe Scanlon, who grew up near the Grattan Street Medical Centre in Cork City, remembers the centre, and describes receiving the Tuberculosis and/or Polio vaccine at the age of eight in the early 1960s. It was nicknamed ‘The Branding Iron’ among the children, and Joe gives a vivid description of his experience that day.

Interviewer: Kieran Murphy for CFP Grattan Street Stories: Memory of Place 


Liam Ó hUigín, grew up on Henry Street in the vicinity of North and South Main Streets in the 1940s and 1950s. In this excerpt, Liam describes his trip to Grattan Street dispensary to get vaccinated. 

Imelda Cunning, originally from Glasgow, Scotland. Trained as a podiatrist. Imelda moved to Ireland in 1999. Upon taking her position a podiatrist in Grattan Street medical centre she noticed the difference between her patients in Glasgow and those in Cork. Imelda then goes on to describe the long term effects of different infectious diseases and how important getting vaccinated is.