Who Was Aleen Cust? – Ireland’s Trailblazing First Female Vet

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The Aleen Cust Library at Mountbellew Agricultural College, Co. Galway opened today, 16th October 2023. So Who Was Aleen Cust?

Before women were widely accepted in many professions, Aleen Cust shattered expectations by becoming Ireland’s first female veterinary surgeon in the early 1900s. Her pioneering career opened doors for women in veterinary medicine.

Developing a Passion for Animals

Born in 1868 in Kildare, Ireland, Aleen developed a deep compassion for animals from a young age. After saving an injured puppy, she became determined to be a vet despite it being an uncommon career path for women.

Overcoming Obstacles

Cust initially tried enrolling at an Irish vet school but was denied for being female. Undeterred, in 1900 she gained admission to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in London, graduating in 1903 as one of the first women vets in the UK.

Trailblazing in Ireland

In 1904, Cust returned to Ireland and established the country’s first all-female veterinary practice in Meath. Focusing on farm animals and horses, she earned a reputation as a highly skilled and dedicated vet.

Advocating for Animal Welfare

Beyond her clinical work, Cust strongly promoted animal welfare and humane treatment of working horses and livestock. She saw advocating for animals as part of a vet’s role.

Battling Disease Outbreaks

When foot and mouth disease hit Ireland in 1912, Cust worked tirelessly to contain the outbreak and minimize animal losses. Her skills were invaluable during this crisis.

Lasting Legacy

After retiring in 1920, Cust left a lasting mark as the woman who broke barriers to launch veterinary medicine as a viable career path for women in Ireland. The determination of this pioneering vet still inspires female vets today.



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