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Catholic University of Ireland
Ollscoil Chaitliceach na hÉireann
Template:Catholic University of Ireland Coat of Arms, copywrite expired
Latin: Catholicvs Universitas Hiberniae
Active 1854—1909
Type Public
Location Dublin,Maynooth, Ireland
Despite the international reputation of the founding Rector, John Henry Newman, the university failed to attract sufficient funding and students before 1880.

The Catholic University of Ireland (Irish: Ollscoil Chaitliceach na hÉireann)[1][2][3] was a Catholic university in Dublin, Ireland and was founded in 1851 in response to the Queen's University of Ireland and its associated colleges which were nondenominational. Cardinal Cullen had previously forbidden Catholics from attending these "godless colleges".[4]

On May 18, 1854 the Catholic University of Ireland was formally established with five faculties of law, letters, medicine, philosophy and theology with John Henry (later Cardinal) Newman as the Rector. Lectures commenced on November 3, 1854, with the registration of seventeen students, the first being Daniel O'Connell, grandson of the notable Catholic politician Daniel O'Connell.

The Catholic University was neither a recognised university so far as the civil authorities were concerned, nor did it offer recognised degrees. Newman had little success in establishing the new university, though over £250,000 had been raised from the laity to fund it. Holding the foundation money as trustees, the hierarchy then sent most of it to help defend Rome in 1867. He left the university in 1857 and it subsequently went into a serious decline; in 1879 only three students had registered. The situation changed in 1880 when the recognised Royal University of Ireland came into effect and students of the Catholic University were entitled to sit the Royal University examinations and receive its degrees.

After the 1880 reforms the Catholic University consisted of a number of constituent colleges, including St Patrick's College, Maynooth, much of the original university becoming another of those colleges, University College Dublin. University College was passed to the control of the Jesuits in 1883, when it incorporated the faculties of the Catholic University except medicine. In 1909 the Catholic University essentially came to an end with the creation of the National University of Ireland with University College Dublin as a constituent.

Catholic University Medical School

The Catholic University Medical School commenced lectures for medical students in 1855, in Cecilia Street, the recognition of its graduates by chartered institutions ensured its success unlike the associated Catholic University. This ensured that the medical school became the most successful constituent college of the Catholic University and by 1900 the medical school had become the largest medical school in Ireland.

The 1908 reforms reconstituted the Catholic University Medical School as the Faculty of Medicine of University College Dublin.


  1. ^ University College Dublin, National University of Ireland (in Irish) "..tseaninstitiúid, Ollscoil Chaitliceach na hÉireann, an 3 Samhain 1854."
  2. ^ Dublin City University, Leabharlann Uí Riangáin (in Irish) "Réitigh Petrie leis cló do Ollscoil Chaitliceach na hÉireann.."
  3. ^ Scribhinn - Stair an Chló / Éire (in Irish) "Dearadh an cló seo le haghaidh úsáid Ollscoil Chaitliceach na hÉireann toisc gur diúltaíodh cead dóibh Cló Petrie.."
  4. ^ Johnston, Roy 1993. Causeway, the Belfast 'Cultural Traditions' quarterly, Vol 1 no 1, September 1993 "The Practical Arts in Irish Culture". Retrieved on September 1, 2006.

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