St Patrick's College, Maynooth

Not to be confused with Maynooth University.
Saint Patrick's College, Maynooth
Coláiste Phádraig, Má Nuad
Latin: Collegium Sti Patricii Apud Maynooth
Other name
Maynooth College
Former names
Royal College of Saint Patrick Maynooth
Type Roman Catholic, Private
Established 1795
President Hugh Connolly
Vice-president Michael Mullaney
Dean Declan Marmion SM
Undergraduates 250
Postgraduates 80
Other students
Location Maynooth, Ireland
53°22′49″N 6°35′46″W / 53.3804°N 6.5961°W / 53.3804; -6.5961Coordinates: 53°22′49″N 6°35′46″W / 53.3804°N 6.5961°W / 53.3804; -6.5961
Registrar Michael Mullaney
Affiliations NUIM (1997–present),
NUI (1910-1997),
Royal University of Ireland(1882–1909)
Catholic University of Ireland(1876-1882),
Maryvale Institute,
Scotus College
View of St Joseph's Square

St Patrick's College, Maynooth (Irish: Coláiste Naoimh Phádraig, Maigh Nuad), is the "National Seminary for Ireland" (a Roman Catholic college), and a Pontifical University, located in the village of Maynooth, 24 km (15 mi) from Dublin, Ireland. In 2015–16 there were approximately 80 men studying for the priesthood at Maynooth, 60 resident seminarians and approximately 20 non residents. The college and seminary are often referred to as Maynooth College. The college was officially established as the Royal College of St Patrick by an Act of Grattan's Parliament in 1795. Thomas Pelham, the Secretary of State, introduced his Bill for the foundation of a Catholic college, and this was enacted by Parliament.

Degrees are awarded by the Pontifical University at Maynooth, which was established by a Pontifical Charter of 1896. The Pontifical Charter entitles the university to grant degrees in canon law, philosophy and theology.

The college is associated with the separate Maynooth University.


The town of Maynooth, County Kildare, was the seat of the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare. The ivy-covered tower attached to St Mary's Church of Ireland, is all that remains of the ancient college of St Mary of Maynooth which was founded and endowed by Gerald, 8th Earl of Kildare, and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1518, the 9th Earl presented a petition to the then Archbishop of Dublin (William Rokeby), for a license to found and endow a college at Maynooth: the College of the Blessed Virgin Mary.[2]

The present college was created in the 1790s against the background of the upheaval during the French Revolution and the gradual removal of the penal laws. Until this time a significant number of Irish Catholic priests were educated on the European continent, particularly in France.

The college was established on 5 June 1795 (35 Geo III, cap. 21) as The Royal College of St Patrick, by act of the Parliament of Ireland, to provide "for the better education of persons professing the popish or Roman Catholic religion". The College in Maynooth was originally established to provide a university education for Catholic lay and ecclesiastical students,[3] the lay college was based in Riverstown House on the south campus from 1802. With the opening of Clongowes Wood in 1814, the lay college (which had lay trustees)[4] was closed[5] and the college functioned solely as a Catholic seminary for almost 150 years.

Ireland's oldest tree, the Silken Thomas Yew, is 700–800 years old.

The college was particularly intended to provide for the education of Catholic priests in Ireland, who until this Act had to go to the continent for training. The added value in this was the reduction of the number of priests returning from training in revolutionary France (with whom Britain was at war) thus hindering potential revolution. The value to the government was proved by the condemnation by the Catholic Church hierarchy of the 1798 rebellion and later support for the Act of Union.

In 1800, John Butler, 12th Baron Dunboyne, died and left a substantial fortune to the College. Butler had been a Roman Catholic, and Bishop of Cork, who had embraced Protestantism in order to marry and guarantee the succession to his hereditary title. However, there were no children to his marriage and it was alleged that he had been reconciled to the Catholic Church at his death. Were this the case, a Penal Law demanded that the will was invalid and his wealth would pass to his family. Much litigation followed before a negotiated settlement in 1808 that led to the establishment of a Dunboyne scholarship fund.[6]

The land was donated by William FitzGerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster, who had argued in favour of Catholic Emancipation in the Irish House of Lords. He lived nearby at Carton and also at Leinster House. The building work was paid for by the British Government; parliament continued to give it an annual grant until the Irish Church Act 1869. When this law was passed the College received a capital sum of £369,000. The trustees invested 75% of this in mortgages to Irish landowners at a yield of 4.25% or 4.75% per annum. This would have been considered a secure investment at that time but agitation for land reform and the depression of the 1870s eroded this security. The largest single mortgage was granted to the Earl of Granard. Accumulated losses on these transactions reached £35,000 by 1906.[7]

The first building to go up on this site was designed by, and named after, John Stoyte; Stoyte House, which can still be seen from the entrance to the old campus, is a well-known building to Maynooth students and stands very close to the very historic Maynooth Castle. Over the next 15 years, the site at Maynooth underwent rapid construction so as to cater for the influx of new students, and the buildings which now border St Joseph's Square (to the rear of Stoyte House) were completed by 1824.

The Rev. Laurence F. Renehan (1797–1857), a noted antiquarian, church historian, and cleric, served as president of St Patrick's from 1845 until 1857. Under Renehan, many of the college's most important buildings were constructed by Augustus Pugin.[8]

Maynooth Grant

Following the controversy regarding the Maynooth Grant, the College received a higher annual grant from the British Government, as well as a sum for repairs. In 1845, the British government under Robert Peel increased the annual grant to Maynooth College from £9,000 to £26,000, and provided a capital grant of £30,000 for building extensions again. However this was controversial as Roman Catholics saw it as a bribe, while most Protestants were not in favour of the government funding Roman Catholic education.[9][10] For example, the Anti-Maynooth Conference was hosted in London in May 1845 by Conservatives, evangelical Anglicans and the Protestant Association to campaign against the Maynooth Grant.[11]

Oath of Allegiance

As part of the Act on which Maynooth College was founded, students and trustees of the college were expected to take an Oath of Allegiance to the Crown.[12] Some clerical students did not attend since they objected pledging allegiance to the head of the Anglican church.

The Famine

Maynooth College seemed to fare quite well during famine times with only one death reported. The good agricultural land and revenue acquired helped the college, and as a result many ordinary people resented their apparent prosperity whilst most of the country was devastated by potato blight and starvation.

Michael O'Hickey

In 1909, Irish language activist and scholar Michael O'Hickey (1860–1916) was dismissed from his position as Professor of Irish for his conduct in the controversy over Irish as a matriculation subject for the new National University of Ireland.[13] He was supported by such Maynooth figures as the college president, Daniel Mannix, and the Professor of Theology, Walter McDonald (1854–1920).

In An Linn Bhuí, the Irish language journal of Co Waterford, O'Hickey's home county, Mícheál Briody, lecturer at the Languages Centre, Helsinki University, Finland, says that O'Hickey was a prominent member of the Gaelic League and fiercely in favour of compulsory Irish for the new University of Ireland, whereas Mannix, then President of St Patrick's College, Maynooth, together with most of the Catholic bishops, was opposed. This was the cause of O'Hickey's sacking. Briody says that the Senate of the new university, one year after O'Hickey's sacking, agreed to Irish being compulsory for matriculation and not long after that Mannix was posted as the Archbishop of Melbourne in Australia against his own will. Mannix, however, later became a strong supporter of Irish republicanism and something of a thorn in the side of the authorities both ecclesiastical and civil, in Australia as well as Britain.[14]


In 1876 the college became a constituent college of the Catholic University of Ireland, and later offered Royal University of Ireland degrees in arts and science. Even after the granting of the Pontifical Charter in 1896 the college became a recognised college of the National University of Ireland in 1910, and from this time its arts and science degrees were awarded by the National University of Ireland. However, during this time the Pontifical University of Maynooth continued to confer its degrees in theology, because until 1997 theology degrees were prohibited by the Royal University of Ireland and its successor the National University of Ireland.

In 1966 after a gap of nearly 150 years lay students again entered the college, these being the members of lay religious institutes, and in 1968 all laity where accepted; by 1977 they outnumbered religious students. Finally in 1997 the Universities Act, 1997[15] was passed by the Oireachtas. Chapter IX of the Act provided for the creation of the separate National University of Ireland, Maynooth. This new university was created from the college's faculties of Arts, Celtic Studies and Philosophy, and Science.

In 1994, W. J. Smyth was appointed to the position of Master of St Patrick's College Maynooth (NUI). In 1997 this position was converted into President of NUIM. After his 10-year term ended in 2004, he was replaced by John Hughes as president of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.


Student activities

Students of Maynooth have participated in a variety of inter-varsity competitions. In 1972 Maynooth entered the Gaelic Football Sigerson Cup for the first time and won it in 1976. They also participate in the Hurling competition, the Fitzgibbon Cup and won it in 1974 and 1974. The Soccer team competes in the Collingwood Cup. The College won the inaugural Irish higher education quiz show on RTÉ, Challenging Times (based on University Challenge), winning again in 1992 and as NUIM in 1999.

Maynooth Students' Union represents students of St Patrick's College, Maynooth and NUI Maynooth.

Maynooth Alumni Association provides graduates of the St. Patrick's College, Maynooth and NUI Maynooth, with a channel to keep in touch with their alma mater as well as with friends and classmates from their time in Maynooth[23] it is based in Riverstown Lodge on the south campus.


St. Patrick's Flag is used as the emblem of the college, and the flag has flown above Stoyte House, a new logo was used for the buildup and since the bicentennial of the college based on the Gothic buildings.


From its foundation 1795 Maynooth had been governed by a board of clerical (long-serving Catholic bishops of Ireland) and lay trustees appointed by the government. The lay trustees were prominent Catholic Lords, such as the Earl of Fingall Arthur James Plunkett and the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. One of the side effects of the act to disestablish the Church of Ireland, was that Maynooth's governance and funding changed, leaving only the Bishops on the board of trustees.(Vic., C.25)


The historic buildings of Maynooth.


Prior to the establishment of the college, students for the diocesan priesthood had to travel to the European mainland, to one of the many Irish colleges based principally in France, Spain, and the Low Countries. The continental background of early members of staff, some of whom were native French refugees from the French Revolution, is reflected in the Library's holdings. A large proportion of the 22,000 pre-1850 books were published abroad.[26] Several professors and eminent churchmen were great collectors, and their collections ultimately came to the Library. At the beginning, the Library was small and there were no text books for the students. Many professors decided to go into print and to write their own, having their students subscribe in advance. Printing by subscription was a common practice and the subscription lists still show the names of students and staff from this early period in the college's history.[26]

When the annual grant received by the college was increased threefold in 1845, the president at the time, Laurence Renehan, started much needed renovations.[26] Augustus Welby Pugin was brought in to design new buildings, which included a library with high gothic windows and an open timbered roof, completed in 1861. The tall wooden stacks and long center tables hardly changed for over a century, and daylight was considered sufficient to work by until 1970, when electric lighting was finally introduced.[26] It now houses the pre-1850 books and manuscripts and is known as the Russell Library. It is home to a fine collection of Gaelic manuscripts, as well as non-Gaelic manuscripts that are largely the literary contributions of staff and students. When the last Irish college in Spain (Salamanca) closed in 1951, the archives were transferred to Maynooth. These included documents from other Irish colleges (Alcalá, Santiago, and Seville) and administrative records dating back to the end of the sixteenth century.[26] The Russell Library housed two thirds of the book stock and most readers until 1984.

Prior to October 1984, the Library of Maynooth College occupied eight locations. Two of these had been principal locations: the Main Library, located in the building complex built by Pugin for the Seminary in the mid-nineteenth century, and the New Arts Library in the new campus, created in the middle of the twentieth century.[26] A shortage of space in the Library and the lack of modern facilities led the college and its then President Monsignor Olden to build a new library from donations in Ireland and abroad, mainly the United States.[26] The foundation stone of the new building was blessed by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Ireland in 1979 and in 1983 the John Paul II Library opened its doors. The former eight locations were reduced to three: the old "Main Library" became, in 1984, the Russell Library for old and rare books and manuscripts, the new John Paul II Library became the main working academic library, and there is a separate Chemistry Store for a surfeit of chemistry periodicals.[26] In November 2010, the construction of an extension to the existing library was begun,[27] which opened in 2012.

National Science Museum and Museum of Ecclesiology

The museum in Maynooth College established in 1934 contains many items from the college's history, including ecclesiastical artifacts and scientific apparatus such as that of the physicist Nicholas Callan.[28] Nicholas Callan figure in the study of electromagnetism, inventing the induction coil and Maynooth Battery. Callan is buried in the college grounds. Apparatus associated with telegraphy, notably items used by Marconi are also stored in the Museum.

Presidents of Maynooth College


Current status

Any student of the college, prior to the passing of the Universities Act, 1997, upon whom a degree of the National University of Ireland was conferred is now legally considered to be a graduate of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. The college continues to share its campus with National University of Ireland, but Maynooth remains a separate legal entity with training in canon law, philosophy and theology and awards the degrees of the Pontifical University and is associated with several other colleges. Pontifical University BA undergraduate students can take their degree in Theology along with an Arts subject from the National University. BA in Theology and BA in Theology with Arts is available on the CAO system.

Students of graduate from the NUIM in philosophy can on submittal of a subsequent different thesis can be conferred with a B.Phil by the Pontifical University.[30]

From October 2011 all academic awards from the Pontifical University of Maynooth are aligned to the Irish National Framework of Qualifications by the NQAI.[21]

As part of the Erasmus university exchange programme, Saint Patrick's College, Maynooth has bilateral agreements with Faculties of Theology in Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland,[31] France, Germany, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain (Salamanca) and Switzerland (Freiburg).

In 2014–2015 the College had 69 resident seminarians and a significant number of non-resident seminarians travelling in by day for lectures. A further five Irish seminarians currently study in St. Malachy's Seminary in Belfast (the only other Catholic seminary in Ireland) and maintain close links with their counterparts in Maynooth. There are approximately 80 post-graduate students of theology and 250 undergraduate philosophy and theology students who are registered as full-time students of the college.

In 2013 a new Diploma in Catholic Education was offered to students, in association with NUIM Dept. of Education and the University of Notre Dame,[22] 2014 saw the Diploma being delivered in St. Kieran's College, Kilkenny.[32]

Affiliated programmes

Up to 120 further students are registered on courses validated by the college including permanent diaconate programmes and partnership programmes with the National Liturgy Institute,[33] Dominican Biblical Institute Limerick, St. Patrick's College, Thurles, ACCORD, Kairos and others. The Diploma in Spirituality is run at the Manresa Jesuit Centre of Spirituality in Dublin,[34] the Jesuit Centre in Galway[35] and commencing in 2016 in Drumalis in Larne.[36]

St. Patrick's College, Maynooth accredits a number of certificate courses at the NUIM Kilkenny Campus at St. Kieran's College, 2011 saw the commencement of a Certificate in Theological Studies[37] in association with the Catholic Diocese of Ossory.[38] Since 2010 at the Kilkenny campus a Certificate in Christian Studies[39] for lay Anglicans, in association with the Church of Ireland Diocese of Cashel and Ossory has also been accredited.[40]

Maynooth (Pontifical University) also accredits an undergraduate BTh degree[41] and postgraduate MTh degree[42] in Carmelite Studies for the Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland.

Annual events

The graduation ceremony for the conferral of Pontifical University degrees normally takes place on the first Saturday after the October Reading Week each year in the college chapel.

One of the major events in the college calendar is the annual Christmas carol service in the college chapel. Started in 1969, this is a now a joint event between the two universities and seminary.[43]

Every year open days are held in conjunction with NUI Maynooth, when students can view the facilities of the common campus, student services and see what courses are available at both institutions.


See also


  1. Ireland International Federation of Catholic Universities
  2. St. Mary's Church Parish History
  3. Maynooth College History official website
  4. "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Maynooth College". Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  5. Lay Catholics Educated at Maynooth College Hansard (1908)
  6. O'Connor, T. (2004) "Butler, John, styled twelfth Baron Dunboyne (1731–1800)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, accessed 9 Aug 2007 (subscription required)
  7. Dooley, Terence (2001). The Decline of the Big House in Ireland. Wolfhound Press Ltd. ISBN 0-86327-850-7.
  8. St. Mary's Oratory, St. Patrick's College, Maynooth History (RHA)
  9. Anti-Catholicism in Mid-Victorian Britain – Theory and Discipline; by Frank Wallis
  10. "The Maynooth Grant". Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  11. Proceedings of the Anti-Maynooth conference of 1845 By Rev. A.S. Thelwall M.A., London(1845)
  12. Maynooth College New Advent.
  13. Drums under the Windows by Sean O'Casey, the third volume of O'Casey's memoirs, The Macmillan Company (New York 1950)
  14. An Linn Bhuí, Uimhir 13, 2009, Leabhar Na Linne, An Rinn, Co Waterford, Ireland – Micheál Briody "Briseadh an tAthar Ó hIceadha, Samhradh 1909"
  15. Universities Act, 1997
  16. "Maynooth College" from the Catholic Encyclopedia
  17. "RTÉ Archives - Daily stories from television and radio records of Irish life". Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  18. President Michael D. Higgins Celebrates 75th Anniversary of NUI Maynooth Department of Sociology Press Release, NUIM website.
  19. New Catalogue of Salamanca Papers, Maynooth College Archivium Hibernicum
  20. National Centre of Liturgy - Who we are
  21. 1 2 Final report on alignment of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth awards made in Ireland to the National Framework of Qualifications, September 2011.
  22. 1 2 Diploma in Catholic Education Joint Managerial Body
  23. "Maynooth University Alumni Office". Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  24. Carton House, Maynooth Historic Houses website
  25. St Mary's Church of Ireland, Maynooth, Kildare – Irish Architecture
  26. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Kabdebo, Thomas, and Penelope Woods. (1989). Maynooth College Library. North Irish Roots, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 86-88, North of Ireland Family History Society (NIFHS).
  27. "New Library Building". Retrieved 2011-08-31.
  28. Maynooth College Museum Nicholas Callan
  29. Bishop Robert Browne The Friends of St. Colman's Cathedral online.
  30. Baccalaureate in Philosophy, The Pontifical University, St. Patrick's College, Maynooth Dept. of Philosophy, NUIM.
  31. "University of Helsinki". Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  32. Diploma in Catholic Education – St Kieran's College in joint initiative with Notre Dame and Maynooth St, Kierans College Website, 24 May 2014.
  33. Courses - National Centre for Liturgy
  34. Diploma in Spirituality
  35. Spiritual Direction Diploma Jesuit Centre Galway
  36. Diploma in Spirituality Drumalis
  37. SPCM Certificate in Theological Studies NUIM Kilkenny Campus
  38. Cardinal Brady's address at graduation in St Patrick's College, Maynooth Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, 19 November 2011.
  39. Education – Diocese of Cashel and Ossory
  40. SPCM Certificate in Christian Studies NUIM Kilkenny Campus.
  41. Baccalaureate in Theology Carmaelite Studies
  42. Masters in Theology Carmaelite Studies
  43. Christmas Carol Service Maynooth College, 14 December 2011
  44. "Archivium Hibernicum". Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  45. The Furrow - official website of the magazine
  46. "Irish Theological Quarterly". Retrieved 6 July 2015.

Further reading

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