Steeped in history, all seven universities in the Republic of Ireland have something unique to offer visitors. Immerse yourself in Irish heritage by viewing some of Ireland’s most treasured artefacts or browsing through an array of unique art collections. Below is just a sample of the historical gems that await you on university campuses.
The Book of Kells, Trinity College Dublin
Experience the best of Irish tradition at Trinity College Dublin, rich in history and culture from the Old Library and Colonnades Gallery to the Treasury and Long Room.
Housed in Trinity College Dublin, the Book of Kells is a manuscript containing the four Gospels in Latin based on a Vulgate text, written on vellum (prepared calfskin), in a bold and expert version of the script known as “insular majuscule”. It has been on display in the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin from the mid-19th century, and attracts over 500,000 visitors a year. Other manuscripts on display include the Book of Durrow and the Book of Armagh.
Silken Thomas’s Yew, St Patrick’s College & NUI Maynooth
The campus at St Patrick’s College & NUI Maynooth is steeped in history. Visitors can walk the halls in the footsteps of influential Irish people such as Nobel Laureate John Hume and Éamon de Valera.
But the history of the campus long proceeds the days when such giants of modern Irish history attended Maynooth. For example, the Tree Council of Ireland has concluded that the Yew Tree at the entrance to Saint Patrick’s College is Ireland’s oldest native tree. Commonly known as the Silken Thomas Tree, folklore suggests that the row of Yew trees (TAXUS baccata) were planted around the time of the building of Maynooth Castle in the 12th century. The Silken Thomas Yew now measures 6.1m in girth, and is 14m tall.
Stone Corridor, University College Cork
University College Cork is home to a collection of Ogham Stones, which illustrate an early coded form of the Irish language. These ancient gravestones, each one marking the burial place of a distinguished person in a Celtic tribe, a chieftain or a bard, date from the second or third century of the Christian era – the period before Saint Patrick came to Ireland.
Éamon de Buitléar Archive, NUI Galway
Housed in NUI Galway, the Éamon de Buitléar Archive is an exceptional and unique collection of multimedia material which reflects an outstanding body of work spanning some sixty years, completed by the famous Irish writer, musician and film maker, Éamon de Buitléar. The Archive consists of various media, including papers, scripts and manuscripts, animation, film and video, music and audio recordings, books and broadcast equipment.
Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, National Dance Archive, University of Limerick
The archive, housed at the University of Limerick, is the first of its kind in Ireland and is the most comprehensive in the country. It is committed to collecting, preserving, digitizing and cataloguing the multimedia dance material, and to providing access and guidance to the collections; these include traditional dance, social dance, contemporary dance, ballet, urban dance and world dance. The National Dance Archive is an important public resource for dance education and research. It is a living Archive that forges links with dancers, scholars, choreographers, companies and organisations of dance in the wider community.
Albert College – DCU
Albert College started life as Glasnevin Model Farm in 1838, becoming the Albert National Agricultural Training Institution in 1853 after a visit by Prince Albert. The foundation of the college was an important event in the history of agricultural education in Ireland, which trained primary school teachers to the standards required by the Board of National Education in Ireland for the teaching of agriculture, additionally it also trained those whose aim was to pursue a career in agriculture.
In 1902 the name Albert Agricultural College was adopted. In the early 20th century Paul A Murphy, Professor of plant pathology made a significant scientific breakthrough in the study of phytophthera infestans, the fungus which causes potato blight. In the definitive work on the Irish Famine – The Great Hunger – the author Cecil Woodham-Smith states that in view of the fact that Ireland suffered so much from the blight it was “by a stroke of poetic justice that it was in Ireland that much of the final research was carried out… at the Albert College in Glasnevin, Dublin”. This building is steeped with Irish History and a great visit while staying in DCU.
Since 1854, University College Dublin has fostered original thinking, supporting scholars to create ideas that have had an impact across the world and through the ages.
UCD has been a major contributor to the making of modern Ireland. Many UCD students and staff participated in the struggle for Irish independence and the university has produced numerous Irish Presidents and Taoisigh (Prime Ministers) in addition to generations of Irish academic, business, professional, cultural and sporting leaders. Among UCD’s well-known graduates are: civic and commercial leaders (Peter Sutherland, David O’Reilly, Tony O’Reilly); authors (Maeve Binchy, Roddy Doyle, Flann O’Brien); actors (Gabriel Byrne, Sinead Cusack, Brendan Gleeson); directors (Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan) and sports stars such as Irish rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll and former Manchester United and Ireland captain Kevin Moran.
Perhaps the best known of UCD’s graduates is the writer James Joyce who completed his Bachelor of Arts in 1902. UCD is proud to celebrate one of the fathers of modern literature.