Papers of James Meenan – Move of UCD to Belfield

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University College Dublin and its Building Plans

Pages 8 & 9

Pages 8 & 9

8and the general public habitually calls this College "the National University" or, for short, "the National."

Our Constitution of 1908 was in many ways imperfect but it wasnevertheless a great advance. The College was now chartered and endowed, and though it was not given the university status and titlethat had been lost twenty-five years before, it at least shared in the rightsand control of a university. In its new wider scope, the Collegecombined the Jesuit Arts College with the C.U.I. Medical School, andembraced the new faculties of Science, Commerce, Law, Engineeringand Architechture, to which others ight be added; Agriculture andVeterinary Medicine ahve in the course of time been added. The endow-ment was modest, but it was experimental, and there was every reasonto expect that it would soon be increased. When we opened in November 1909 it may well have been thought that we had before us a long period of steady development.

But 1909 was very close to 1914, to the first world war and the Irishrevolution, beyond which lay a succession of further troubles. Insome ways we have thriven in these rough times more than the foundersof fifty years ago could forsee; but we have also passed throughdangers and difficulties beyond their ken. We have multiplied instudent numbers, more than eightfold infifty years- from 530 to 4,500Everywhere, of course, university numbers have been enlarged by the twentieth-century transformation of society and the new requirementsof administration and applied science. But in our case special causes operated. Catholic and nationalist Ireland had been waiting a long time for proper university, so that students rushed to it when it came.A new state and a new economy were in the process of creation; University College, from its very foundation, produced in large pro-portion the men who were to direct the new independent Ireland.

A growing university needs more buildings, equipment, and staff;a raapidly growing one must present alarming bills to the State, whichis its biggest source of revenue. Science and technology, in particular,have become more and more expansive every year.

It might be thought that one of the first ations of a natice Irish government would have been to build and endow this College as wellas possible, and to encourage its expansion. The new State did in fact


transfer to us the former Royal College of Science, with its School ofAgriculture and Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. But we had hada revolution and a civil war, there was much to be rebuilt; and there werremany things for the new State to undertake which seemed more urgent than the building and endowment of a university. Then came years ofeconomic depression, and the war of 1939. During these years ournumbers and our needs grew rapidly and the State did little to help us.Our revenue, small at the start, tended always to diminish in real valueand in relation to our needs. Our history, therefore, has been largely one of a struggle to make ends meet, to do things much more cheaplythan they are done elsewhere, while trying to do them well. it must be added however that the State now proceeds on the principle that asfar as possible the College should be endowed according to its needs,judged by reasonable standard elsewhere.

Last edit 12 months ago by Tracy
Pages 6 & 7

Pages 6 & 7

6The power to give degrees prevented most of the professional faculties from making any progress. But there was a quick and permanent sucess in Medicine, which indeed became the main strength of the University.

After Newman's departure the Catholic University continued, always looking to the day when the government might afford it, by means of a charter, the chance of real expansion. In 1861-2 the charter seemed not far off, and plans were made for a great university building on a site of Drumcondra.1 In July 862 the foudation-stone was solemnly laid, in the presence of thousands of people from all over Ireland and many from abroad; no less than ten American bishops were there. But the charter was withheld, and on that foundation-stone no second stone was ever laid. For twenty years more the University struggled on, its staff growing old, and annual collection declining, and students, except in the Medical School, becoming fewer.

II. Royal Univerity and Jesuit University College, 1883-1909

In 1879 the British Bovernement, still curbed by non-conformistopinion, found a means of conceding something to the teachers and students of the Catholic University, without going so fas as to recognize the University . The Royal University was founded, an undenomina-tional body which did not teach but held examinations for degrees, and which maintained fellowships. To make use of these great practical benefits, the Arts section of the Catholic University was in 1883 turned into a College and given the non-familiar name of University College, Dublin; and its adinistration, together with the University houses and those who remained of Newman's staff, was put in the charge of the Jesuit Fathers. The situation for the next twenty-five years was that University College was a private institution, of which however the staff could hold Royal University fellowships and the students gain Royal University degrees. The Jesuit University College was not large (it never went beyond 200 students), but it was compact and well managed; its students in competition witih those of the fully established

1 It is interesting to note that the 1861 site was just exactly as far from St. Stephen's Green as Belfield is. As transport then was, Drumcondra was much more remote, even from the city centre, than Belfield is under modern conditions.


Queen's Colleges of Belfast, Cork and Galway, carried off the great majority of the Royal University prizes. This part of our College history is known to the world at large by the name of one of the pro-fessors, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and of one of the studnets, James Joyce. Meanwhile the Medical School, keeping up the name of the Catholic University, continued on its own, and flourished; its numbers were greater than those of University College. Perhaps the most famous name of the medical scholl is that of Ambrose Birmingham, Professor of Anatomy from 1886 to 1904. The solid sucess of these two institu-tions, limited htough each was in its scope, greatly reinforced the plea of the Bishops and of the Irish Party that there should be a new institution in Dublin, properly recongnised and endowed, capable of fulfillin the larger plan which the Catholic University, under impos-sible conditions, had a least gallantly attempted.

III. University College, Dublin, 1909-59

At the openin g of the new century ceaseless Irish pressure, in and out of Parliament, compeeled another attempt to settle the university questions. The Bishops still wished for a state-endowed Catholic University in Dublin; but it was certain that a large section of British opinion, which had long resisted this, would not not permit it. The Bishops' second choice had a better chance of realisations- a new College, Catholic in general atmosphere as Trinity was Protestant, in an enlarged and reformed University of Dublin. Such a scheme was recommended in 1907 by the majority of the Fry Commission (Baron Palles, D.J. Coffey, Dougals Hyde, Raleigh of Oxford, Jackson of Cambridge). But when Mr. Bryce prepared legislation to give effect to this majority report, Trinity College, though some of its members held more liberal views, reacted very stronly and appealed to British opinion in a "Hands off Trinity" campaign. Mr. Bryce gave place to Mr. Birrell, who adopted a line of less resistance, and created a federal National University with its headquarters in Dublin and constituent teaching Colleges in Dublin, Cork and Galway (these later were the old Queen's Colleges). The identity of place, and the fact that the Dublin Collegee is numerically two-thirds of the University, have been ever since a source of confusion;

Last edit 12 months ago by Tracy
Pages 4 & 5

Pages 4 & 5

4government offered them a university without theology, philosophy, or history, and that they refused it. But the world in general does not desire universities with theology, philosophy, and history left out; no more did Ireland. They are told that Trinity College, Dublin, is now an unsectarian university with no more Protestant than Catholic, and that they may use Trinity College. But the teaching in Trinity College is, and long will be (and very naturally), for the most part in the hands of Protestants; the whole character, tradition, and atmosphere of the place are Protestant. The Irish Catholics want to have on their side, too, a place where the university teaching is mainly in the hands of Catholics, and of which the character and atmosphere shall be Catholic. But then they are asked whether they propose to do away with all the manifold and deep-rooted results of Protestant ascendancy in Ireland, and they are wanted that this would be a hard, nay, impossible matter. But they are not proposing anythig so enormous and chimerical as to do away with all the results of Protestant ascendancy; they propose merely to put an end to one particular and very cruel result of it: - the result that they, the immense majority of the Irish people, have no university, while the Protestants in Ireland, the small minority, have one.

Arnold concludes that the Irish demand has not been met for the reason that Britich non-Conformist sentiment would not allow any government to meet it. To the very end of the United Kindgom, this obstacle was never fully overcome.

Meanwhile, under the leardership of their Bishops, the Irish people attempted to provide themselves with what the State denied them. When the Bishops assembled at Thurles in 1850, they had before them more than one hopeful example. The Catholic University of Louvain, founded in 1835, wa already an evident success; and the Catholic universities of America, to a great extent created by the emigrant Irish, had made a fair beginning. Ireland, indeed, was not prosperous Belguim or expanding America. And yet, in spite of the recent Famine and the draining of the counrty by emigration, and although there was no wealth in Catholic hands to endow a private university, and the Catholicmiddle class, from which students might be drawn, was barely struggling into existence, the Bishops and people neverless bravely trusted in the future.

It was both a bold and a brilliant decision on the part of the Bishops when they invited on of Oxford's greatest sons, lately converted to Catholicism, to Rector of the new university. Not Less remarkable


were the courage and generosity with which John henry Newman accepted his strange assignment. The Catholic University of Ireland, which opened its doors in 1854, has since then often been called Newman's University; and Univeristy College lately gave his name to the houses in St. Stephen's Green which were the main centre of the University's work.

The enterprise of the Catholic Univeristy would perhaps have been justified if it had borne no other fruit than those inaugural lectures which Newman wrote to expound his plan for the new institiution; later enlarged into The Idea of a University, these lectures have influenced the philosophy of higher education throughout the world. Valuable too are his weekly essays in the University's Gazette, now known as the University Sketches.

The Catholic University is sometimes spoken of as though it had been a platform for Newman and nothing more. Certainly that University was a thing of strange contrasts. Its income was made up of the shilings and pence of the poor, collected annually at the church doors - a thing to which there cannot be many parallels in the hisotry of universities. Thus there was on one side the eloquence of Oxford's finest culture, setting forth the perfect idea of a university; on the other, the devotion and self-sacrifice of a people stuggling out of misery, and only knowing vaguely what a university was. But Newman himself was the ontrast; he was not daunted by it but set himself to the task of resolving it. He did not attempt an impossible Oxford on Irish soil, but a university to meet the Irish need. "The old names of the Irish race," he said, "are mounting up into status and power...We consider the Catholic University to be the event of the day in this gradual majestic resurrection of the nation and its religion." When students came only in small numbers, he was not dismayed - "the supply must come before the demand, though not before the need. " Two things may be mentioned to show how Newman fitted the University to Irish reality. One is his creation of a Chair of Irish Antiquities, the first in any University, and his appointment thereto of the famous Eugene O'Curry. The other is his provision for scientific and professional studies - a remarkable step on the part of the great defender of liberal education. the University's lack of a charter and of1*

Last edit 12 months ago by Tracy
Pages 2 & 3 - The College: Its History and Significance

Pages 2 & 3 - The College: Its History and Significance

ContentsPageThe College; Its History and Significantce: I. The Catholci Univerty of Irleand, 1854-83 . . . 3II. Royal University and Jesuit University College, 1883-1909 6III. University College, Dublin, 1909-59 .... 7

Towards Building the College:I. Sturggle with Fortune, 1912-49 .....10II. A fresh Start, 1949-59......11III. The College Plans ......12IV. the commission's Report ......15V. Transition and Improvisation, 1949-59 ....18Retrospect, 1959-1909 ......22


I. The Catholic University of Ireland, 1854-83

In the revival of the Irish nation which went on slowly through the nineteenth century, a very significant episode was the foundationof the Catholic University of Ireland, from which University College, Dublin, derives its origin. 1 Just before the Bishops began to plan the Catholic University, Sir R. Peel had come forward with soething quite different. His foundation, the Queen's University, with Colleges in Belfast, Cork, and Galway, was undenominational, of a utilitarian character, and closely controlled by the State. A further weakness of the Queen's University, regarded as an arrangement to meet the majority demand for higher education, was the fact that it had no College in Dublin. In 1850 the Bishops condemned the Queen's Colleges and decided to proceed with their own University, for which they could expect from the state neither endowment nor a charter.

In Matthew Arnold's essay Irrish Catholicism and British Liberalism2 there is a remarkable synopsis of the Irish university situation i the period follwoing 1850. It recalss vividly the background against which the Catholic University began its work, the difficulties it had to contend with, and the neccessity of that almost heroic undertaking:

They [the Irish] are told they have the Queen's Colleges, invented expressly for Ireland. But they do not want colleges invented expressly for Ireland; they wnat colleges such as those which the English and Scotch have in Scotland and England...They are told that Mr. Gladstone's

1 Continuity from the Catholic University to the Jesuit University College and thence to the present College was made largely by the coming over of the students and most of the staff from the older to the newer instituion in each case. 2 Written soon after 1870. Arnold wrote a good deal on Irish Affairs. He was also, though not a Celtic scholar, a notable propagandist for Celtic studies; much of his enthusiasm was caught from O'Curry's Letures on the MSS Materials. Arnold's brother was Thomas Arnold, professor of English in the C.U.I. and in teh Jesuit College, the teaccher of several of the first professors of the present College.

Arnold's account of what he means by a Catholic and by a Protestant university is interesting in the light of later debates on the university question: "I call Strasburg a Protestand and Bonn a Catholic university in this sense: That religion and the matters mixed up with religion are taught in the one by Protestants and in the other by Catholics. This is the quarantee which ordinary parents desire, and this at Bonn and at STrasburg they get."


Last edit 12 months ago by Tracy

University College Dublin and the future : a memorandum from a research group of Tuairim, Dublin branch, on the report of the Commission on Accommodation Needs of the constituent colleges of the National University of Ireland : with special reference to

Front Matter

Front Matter


We all welcome the decision of the Government to provide for the accommodation needs of University College, Dublin. But whether the new College should be built in the City centre or in the suburbs is hotly debated, and raises issues of great importance for the future of higher education in Dublin.

This pamphlet, which is the work of a research group organised by the Dublin Branch of Tuairim, argues that the proposal to move U.C.D. to the Stullorgan Road is undesirable and unnecessary.

As with other Tuairim pamplets, the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily of Tuairim as a whole.

This pamphlet was originally circulated in stencilled form to members of the Government as well as to educational leaders and other prominent citizens. It attrached considerable attention and was widely accepted as an outstanding contribution towards a solution of the problem with which it deals.

Initially we shrank from the cost of printing the pamphlet, but many of those who read the stencilled copies thought the argument presented so important that they pressed us strongly to give the general public a chance to read it in full. Members of the College and the City offered us generous financial support and we decided to go ahead and print.

Tuairim (the name is derived from the Irish word meaning 'opinion') was founded some years ago to encourage young people to formulate, by means of study and discussion, informed opinions on Irish problems, and to influence by means of lectures, writings and speeches, the opinions of the public.

At present Tuairim has eight branches, and others are in the course of formatio. The names of secretaries of the existing and the contemplated branches are given on the back cover. Each secretary will be glad to hear from anyone interested in joining the branch in his area.

Anyone interested in buying pamphlets, or in contributing towards the cost of the present or future pamphlets, or in finding out more about the general work of Tuairim should contact the Hon. General Secretary.

13a, Brookville Park,Malahide Road,Coolock, Dublin.Telephone 337670

Donal BarringtonPresidentJanuary 1960


University College Dublin and the Future

A Memorandum from a research group of Tuairim, Dublin Branch on

The Report of the Commission on Accommodation Needs of the Constituent Colleges of the National University of Ireland

With Special Reference to the Proposal to Transfer University College, Dublin, to a New Site

Revised Edition

Last edit over 1 year ago by Matt C.
Front Cover

Front Cover

Universit College Dublin and The Future

Tuairim 6 Pamphlet

Price: Two Shillings and Sixpence

Last edit almost 2 years ago by Guest User
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