University History

Irish Version
Maynooth University is a very distinctive university, a collegial institution strongly focused on the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, and equally committed to research, teaching and engagement.  Its distinctive features and character owe much to its unique history and heritage. Maynooth University was formally established as an autonomous university as recently as 1997, yet traces its origins to the foundation of the Royal College of St. Patrick in 1795, making it, simultaneously, Ireland’s youngest university and one of its oldest educational institutions.

St. Patrick's College Maynooth was founded in 1795 as a seminary for the education of priests, and by 1850 had become the largest seminary in the world.  For 200 years before that, Irish Catholic priests had been educated in the Irish colleges in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Netherlands as, under the Penal Laws, it would have been illegal to educate them at home.
A number of factors paved the way for the establishment of Maynooth College.  The French Revolution had confiscated the Irish Colleges in France.  Enlightenment thinking, and the fact that Britain was at war with France led the government seeking to appease Irish Catholics by relaxing the Penal Laws.  At the same time, both the Irish bishops and the English government feared that Irish priests might be  influenced by the ‘contagion of sedition and infidelity’ of the French revolution.  The bishops asked permission to endow ‘academies or seminaries’ for the education of candidates for the priesthood.  Their political advisers persuaded them to extend the project to include laymen, and so the Irish parliament passed an ‘Act for the Better Education of Persons professing the Popish or Roman Catholic Religion’ which lead to the foundation of Maynooth College in 1795. Among the first staff at the College were a number of French scholars who were refugees from the Revolution.  Lay students were admitted in 1800, but the lay college survived only until 1817.
 
Once established, the college authorities had to step carefully with an eye on the government grant.  There were some expulsions of students in 1798 and again at the time of Robert Emmett’s rising in 1803.  For their part, Irish Catholics were at first naturally suspicious of a government-subsidised institution but by the 1820s, when Maynooth priests were beginning to predominate numerically among the Irish clergy, they were the backbone of Daniel O’Connell’s campaign for Catholic Emancipation.
 
On the other hand a large body of Protestant opinion, in England and Ireland, started to question the legitimacy of paying for the education of Catholic priests.
 
In 1871, after the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, the state subsidy was withdrawn and Maynooth College became completely independent.  In 1896 it became a Pontifical University and in 1910 a Recognised College of the National University of Ireland (NUI) so that clerical students gained a BA of the National University of Ireland in the course of their seminary studies.  The student body of the College remained exclusively clerical until 1966, when the hierarchy decided to develop Maynooth ‘as an open centre of university education’ and lay students were admitted to NUI degree courses at the College. With the increasing number of students, the teaching staff of the NUI became more numerous and varied in background.

The Universities Act,  1997, restructured the National University of Ireland and the college at Maynooth became the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (Maynooth University), a university in its own right, independent of St Patrick’s College Maynooth.

The early phase of the development of Maynooth University saw its formal establishment and maturation as an independent institution, very rapid growth in student and staff numbers, the further development of a strong research base, the consolidation of its national position, reputation and unique identity, and an increasingly international profile and connectedness.

The history of the institution confers a unique identity.  Maynooth University has the features of a new university: it is dynamic, rapidly-growing, research-led and engaged. Yet the ethos and disciplinary mix are characteristic of an older institution: there is great strength in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, teaching and research are equally valued and wholly interdependent, there is a strong commitment to liberal education and to fundamental research and scholarship, and a deeply collegial institutional ethos.   
 
Today, Maynooth University is a university of international standing, a community of over 9,000 students and 800 staff, renowned for research and scholarship of global repute, excellent teaching, and as an outstanding environment to learn and work.

Stair na hOllscoile

 
Is Ollscoil ar leith í Ollscoil Mhá Nuad, institiúid choláisteach a dhíríonn go mór ar na daonnachtaí, ar na heolaíochtaí sóisialta agus ar na heolaíochtaí nádúrtha, agus atá tiomanta do thaighde, do theagasc agus do rannpháirtíocht. Tá na saintréithe agus an carachtar atá ag an ollscoil faoi chomaoin ag an stair agus ag an oidhreacht uathúil atá aici. Níl ann ach 1997 ó bunaíodh Ollscoil Mhá Nuad go foirmiúil mar ollscoil féinrialaitheach ach téann oidhreacht na hOllscoile siar go bunú Choláiste Ríoga Naomh Pádraig sa bhliain 1795. Dá bhrí sin, is í Ollscoil Mhá Nuad an ollscoil is óige in Éirinn agus ag am céanna tá sí ar cheann de na hinstitiúidí teagaisc is sine sa tír..
 
Bunaíodh Coláiste Phádraig Má Nuad sa bhliain 1795 mar chliarscoil le hoideachas a chur ar shagairt agus faoin mbliain 1850, ba í an chliarscoil ba mhó ar domhan í. Le dhá chéad bliain roimhe sin, bhí oiliúint á cur ar shagairt Chaitliceacha na hÉireann i gColáistí na nGael sa Fhrainc, sa Spáinn, sa Phortaingéil, san Iodáil agus san Ísiltír. Mar gheall ar na Péindlíthe bheadh sé in aghaidh an dlí oideachas a chur orthu in Éirinn.
Réitigh cúpla gné an bealach do bhunú Choláiste Mhá Nuad. Gabhadh seilbh ar na Coláistí Éireannacha sa Fhrainc le linn Réabhlóid na Fraince. Rinne an rialtas iarracht Caitlicigh na hÉireann a cheansú trí na Péindlíthe a mhaolú mar thoradh ar Smaointeoireacht na hEagnaíochta agus toisc go raibh an Bhreatain i gcoimhlint leis an bhFrainc. Ag an am céanna, bhí faitíos ar easpaig na hÉireann agus ar rialtas Shasana araon go dtiocfadh sagairt na hÉireann faoi thionchar ‘ghalar tógálach ceannairce agus éigreidimh’ réabhlóid na Fraince. D'iarr na heaspaig cead 'acadaimh nó cliarscoileanna’ a chur ar bun ina gcuirfí oideachas ar ábhair sagairt. D'áitigh a gcuid comhairleoirí polaitíochta orthu an tionscadal a fhairsingiú go gcuirfí tuataí san áireamh, agus rith Parlaimint na hÉireann, dá réir sin, acht ag díriú ar oideachas Caitliceach, dar teideal ‘Act for the Better Education of Persons professing the Popish or Roman Catholic Religion’. Is mar thoradh air sin a bunaíodh Coláiste Mhá Nuad sa bhliain 1795. Bhí roinnt scoláirí de chuid na Fraince, a d'éalaigh ón Réabhlóid, i measc fhoireann luath an Choláiste. Ligeadh mic léinn thuata isteach sa bhliain 1800, ach tháinig deireadh le coláiste seo na dtuataí sa bhliain 1817.

Nuair a bhí sé bunaithe, bhí ar údaráis an choláiste a bheith an-chúramach agus iad i mbun a gcuid oibre agus leathshúil i gcónaí acu ar dheontas an rialtais. Díbríodh roinnt mac léinn as an gcoláiste sa bhliain 1798, agus arís eile le linn éirí amach Roibeáird Eiméid sa bhliain 1803. I dtús báire, bhí Caitlicigh na hÉireann amhrasach go maith faoi institiúid léinn a bhí ag fáil airgid ón rialtas, ach faoi na 1820idí agus sagairt Mhá Nuad chun tosaigh i measc na cléire, bhí siad i gcroílár fheachtas Dhónaill Uí Chonaill maidir le Fuascailt na gCaitliceach. 
 
Ar an láimh eile, thosaigh sciar mór de lucht an Phrotastúnachais, i Sasana agus in Éirinn, ag ceistiú na dlisteanachta a bhain le híoc as oideachas a chur ar fáil do shagairt Chaitliceacha.
 
Sa bhliain 1871, tar éis dhíbhunú Eaglais na hÉireann, tarraingíodh siar deontas an stáit agus bhí Coláiste Mhá Nuad iomlán neamhspleách. Sa bhliain 1896 rinneadh Ollscoil Phontaifiúil de agus sa bhliain 1910, rinneadh coláiste aitheanta de chuid Ollscoil na hÉireann de, rud a chiallaigh gur bhain mic léinn a bhí a ina n-ábhair sagart céim BA amach ó Ollscoil na hÉireann le linn a gcuid staidéir sa chliarscoil. Cléirigh amháin a bhí i mbun staidéir ann go dtí an bhliain 1966 nuair a chinn an cliarlathas Má Nuad a fhorbairt mar ‘ionad oscailte d’oideachas ollscoile’ agus glacadh le mic léinn thuata ar chúrsaí céime Ollscoil na hÉireann sa Choláiste. De réir mar a tháinig borradh faoi líon na mac léinn, tháinig forás ar lucht teagaisc Ollscoil na hÉireann agus ar an éagsúlacht a bhain leo.
 
Sa bhliain 1997 ritheadh Acht na nOllscoileanna, 1997, agus rinneadh an coláiste i Maigh Nuad a bhunú mar Ollscoil na hÉireann, Má Nuad (Ollscoil Mhá Nuad), ollscoil dá cuid féin, neamhspleách ar Choláiste Phádraig, Maigh Nuad.
Sa luathchuid den fhorbairt ar Ollscoil Mhá Nuad, bunaíodh an ollscoil go foirmiúil agus chuaigh sí in aibíocht mar institiúid neamhspleách. Tháinig ardú sciobtha ar líon na mac léinn agus ar líon na mball foirne, rinneadh tuilleadh forbartha ar bhunús láidir taighde, daingníodh a suíomh nádúrtha, a cáil agus a féiniúlacht uathúil agus a próifíl agus a ceangail idirnáisiúnta agus iad sin ag fás.
Bronnann stair na hinstitiúide féiniúlacht uathúil uirthi. Tá na gnéithe a bhaineann le hollscoil nua ag Ollscoil Mhá Nuad: ollscoil dhinimiciúil, atá ag fás go sciobtha, atá treoraithe ag taighde agus atá gníomhach. Is saintréithe d’institiúid níos sine iad an éiteas agus meascán na ndisciplíní: tá láidreacht mhór sna daonnachtaí, sna heolaíochtaí sóisialta agus sna heolaíochtaí nádúrtha, cuirtear luach cothrom ar theagasc agus ar thaighde agus tá an dá ghné idirspleách. Tá tiomantas láidir ann d’oideachas liobrálach agus do thaighde agus do scoláireacht bhunúsach, agus éiteas institiúideach atá coláisteach agus domhain.
 
Sa lá atá inniu ann, is ollscoil í Ollscoil Mhá Nuad a bhfuil cáil uirthi go hidirnáisiúnta. Tá níos mó ná 9,000 mac léinn agus 800 ball foirne i bpobal na hOllscoile, tá clú domhanda uirthi as a cuid taighde agus scoláireachta, as an teagasc sármhaith atá inti, agus as an timpeallacht foghlama den scoth atá inti le bheith ag foghlaim agus ag obair.