Russell, Angela Gertrude (née Coyne) (1893–1991), physician and social reformer, was born 15 November 1893 in Tralee, Co. Kerry, the fourth daughter and seventh child among nine children of James Aloysius Coyne, an inspector of national schools, and Kathleen Mary Coyne (née Pitt). Educated at Ursuline convent, Waterford, and Loreto College, St Stephen's Green, Dublin, she entered UCD in 1915, aged twenty-one, to study medicine. Following her graduation (MB, B.Ch., BAO, 1921) she embarked on the DPH, which she completed in 1928. Her future husband, Matthew John Russell (qv), was a lecturer on the course; they were married on 31 July 1924, at St Mary's church on Haddington Road, Dublin.
Though she never entered into private practice, Russell was a prominent member of many women's movements that spearheaded social reform in Ireland in the period after independence and up to the 1960s. These included the National Council of Women of Ireland (founded in 1924), the Women's National Health Association (founded in 1907), the Irish branch of Save the Children, and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. She was joint honorary secretary, with Winifred O'Hegarty, of the Joint Committee of Women's Societies and Social Workers (JCWSSW), formed in 1935 in response to the failure of the government to implement the recommendations of the Carrigan committee on sexual abuse and prostitution in Irish society. The committee's report, first circulated to the cabinet in December 1931, was buried by the Fianna Fáil government in 1932, and by the Geoghegan committee in 1933. Russell was part of a JCWSSW delegation that met with the then minister for justice, Patrick Ruttledge (qv), in December 1935 to protest against the government's inaction. Members of the joint committee, which had many affiliated societies, also attended the law courts during the hearing of cases against women and children, and visited reformatories, making recommendations for their improvement. Russell was a frequent contributor to the newspapers and radio programmes on medical subjects, and she may have been encouraged in the latter by her brother-in-law, John MacDonagh (qv), brother of the poet and revolutionary Thomas MacDonagh (qv), who was productions officer of Radio Éireann at the time.
Like many female doctors of the period, such as Kathleen Lynn (qv) and Ella Webb (qv), Russell supported the hospital for infants, St Ultan's. She shared the view of the medical staff there that the education of women in regard to medical matters was at the core of improving the health of women and children in Ireland. She maintained that ‘public ignorance was mainly responsible for public ill-health’, and she expressed her wish to create ‘an enlightened public’ (Ó hÓgartaigh, 357–8). Although she was a traditional woman in many ways – she maintained that home-making was a woman's most important job, and she lectured widely on the subject – she also believed that the workplace should be adapted to meet the needs of having and rearing a family. Russell was a member of the central council of the Irish Red Cross Society from 1946 to 1974, and from 1953 until the early 1980s also served on the Junior Red Cross and the national geriatrics committees of the society. She was a member of the Commission on Itinerancy, which concluded its work and reported in 1963.
Russell and her husband had three children – two sons and a daughter. Their daughter, Joan, died when in her twenties, and Patrick Kavanagh (qv), who was in love with her, wrote the poem ‘Joan Russell’ for her. One son, John, became a Jesuit priest and the other, Matthew, became a barrister and a civil servant. Angela Russell died at her home, 14 Bushy Park Road, Rathgar, Dublin, 2 March 1991, aged ninety-seven.