St Patrick's College, Maynooth (Irish: Coláiste Naoimh Phádraig, Maigh Nuad) is the "National Seminary for Ireland", Roman Catholic, and a Pontifical University. The college and seminary are often referred to as Maynooth College located in the village of Maynooth, 15 miles from Dublin. The college was officially established as the Roman Catholic College of St Patrick by an Act of Grattan's Parliament in 1795, Mr. Thomas Pelham, the Secretary of State, introduced his Bill for the foundation of a Catholic college. There are 81 men studying for the priesthood at Maynooth, in 2010, now the only major seminary in Ireland.

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 town of Maynooth, Co. Kildare was the seat of the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare.

The ivy-covered tower attached to St. Mary's Protestant Church 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 Rockeby) 1511 : 1521, for a license to found and endow a College at Maynooth. The College of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The college was created 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 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, 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) was closed and the college functioned solely as a Catholic seminary for almost 150 years.

The college was particularly intended to provide for the education of Catholic priests in Ireland, who prior to the Act had to go to the continent for training. The added value in this was the reduction of the amount of priests returning from training in revolutionary France (with whom Britain was at war) thus discouraging 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, 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.

The land was donated by the 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 Disestablishment Act became law. 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% - 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.

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 in close proximity 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. Dr. Laurence F. Renehan (1797-1857) - a noted antiquarian, church historian, and cleric - served as president of St. Patrick's from 1845 through 1857. Under Renehan, many of the college's most important buildings were constructed by Augustus Pugin.

The museum in Maynooth College contains many items from the college's history, including ecclesiastical artifacts and scientific apparatus such as that of famous Physicist Nicholas Callan. Nicholas Callan figure in the study of electromagnetism, inventing the Induction Coil and Maynooth Battery. Callan is buried in the college grounds.

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 this was controversial from both Catholics who saw it as a bribe, and Protestants who were not in favour of the government funding catholic education.


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, as theology degrees were prohibited in the Royal University of Ireland, and its successor the National University of Ireland until 1997.

In 1966 after a gap of nearly 150 years lay students entered the college again, these being the members of lay religious orders, and in 1968 all laity where accepted; by 1977 they outnumbered religious. Finally in 1997 the Universities Act, 1997 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, BA, PhD, LLD, was appointed to the position of Master of St. Patrick's College Maynooth(NUI). In 1997 this position became President of NUIM. After his 10-year term ended in 2004, he was replaced by Professor John Hughes as president of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.


1518 - Garret Óg Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare, founded the College of St Mary, in Maynooth
1535 - College of St. Mary confiscated as part of Henry VIII's religious reforms
1795 - The Royal College of St Patrick established on 5 June 1795 (35 Geo III, cap. 21)
1798 - United Irishmen Rebellion, out of 69 students, 18 were expelled for taking the Oath to the United Irishmen
1800 - Act of Union 1800 transfer of maynooth grant from Dublin to London
1800 - John Butler, 12th Baron Dunboyne died
1801 - First Lay college suppressed
1802 - Lay college opens in Riverstown Lodge
1808 - Dunboyne Establishment case settled between Maynooth Trustees and Butler family
1817 - Lay College Closed
1845 - Maynooth grant increased
1847 - The Great Famine
1869 - Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland by Gladstone, Maynooth was disendowed, lay trustess left the board.
1876 - Maynooth becomes a constituent college of the Catholic University of Ireland
1880 - Royal University of Ireland founded
1896 - Maynooth granted Pontifical University status by Papal Charter from Pope Leo XIII
1903 - King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visited it on 24 July 1903
1908 - National University of Ireland founded
1909 - Royal University of Ireland dissolved
1910 - St. Patricks College. Maynooth officially becomes a recognised college of the National University of Ireland
1911 - Coronation Visit of King George V, Royal College of St Patrick, Maynooth
1966 - Lay students in religious orders admitted
1968 - All Lay Students admitted
1970 - Dept. of Biology founded as part of the Faculty of Science
1976 - Higher Education Central Applications Office (CAO) founded
1987 - Dept. of Computer Science founded as part of the Faculty of Science
1996 - Third level fees abolished by the Irish Government
1997 - National University of Ireland, Maynooth founded from the faculties of Science, Arts and Celtic studies.

Student activities:

Students of Maynooth have participated in a variety of inter-varsity competitions. In 1972 maynooth entered the Gaeilic Football Sigerson Cup for the 1st time and won it in 1976, they also participate in the Hurling competition the Fitzgibbon Cup winning it in 1974 and 1974. The Soccer team similarly compete in the FAI's Collingwood Cup. The College won the inaugural Irish Higher Education Quiz show on RTE, Challenging Times(based on University Challenge winning again in 1992 and as NUIM in 1999.


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 build up and since the bicentennial of the college based on the Gothic buildings.

Governance of Maynooth College:

From its foundation 1795 Maynooth had been governed by a board of Clerical (the 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.

Stoyte House - dating from 1780, originally the home of the steward of the Leinster estate.
St. Josephs Square
Dunboyne House
Humanity House
New House - completed in 1809 (rebuilt after buring down during the 1940s)
St. Marys Square
St. Mary's
St. Patrick's
Russell Library - designed by Augustus Welby Pugin completed in 1861.
Pugin Hall
Aula Maxima - opened in 1893, was the gift to his Alma Mater of the Right Rev. Mgr. MacMahon of the Catholic University at Washington, D. C
Riverstown House - used by the lay college from 1801-1817.
Logic House - Mathematics Department(NUIM) and Mathematical Physics Department (NUIM).
Rhetoric House - History,Geography and Economic Departments.
Loftus Halls (usually where examinations take place)
Columba Centre
Staff Dining Hall
Museum - The museum houses many beautiful ecclesiastical and scientific artifacts.
John Paul II Library - was opened in 1983
St Mary's (Church of Ireland) - was the chapel for the Fitzgerald's, incorporated into the outer wall of the College.

Presidents of Maynooth College:

Reverend Thomas Hussey, DD, FRS (25-6-1795)
Reverend Peter Flood, DD (17-1-1798)
Reverend Andrew Dunne, DD (24-2-1803)
Reverend Patrick Byrne, DD (27-6-1807)
Reverend Patrick Everard, DD (29-6-1810)
Most Reverend Daniel Murray, DD

(Coadjutor to the Archbishop of Dublin) (29-6-1812)
Reverend Bartholomew Crotty, DD (13-11-1813)
Reverend Michael Slattery (19-6-1832)
Reverend Michael Montague, DD (25-6-1834)
Reverend Laurence Renehan, DD (25-6-1845)
Reverend Charles W Russell, DD (20-10-1857)
Reverend William J Walsh, DD (22-6-1880)
Reverend Robert Browne, DD (7-10-1885)
Rt Reverend Monsignor Denis Gargan, DD(9-10-1894)
Reverend Daniel Mannix, DD (13-10-1903)
Rt Reverend John F Hogan, DD (8-10-1912)
Rt Reverend Monsignor James MacCaffrey, PhD (8-10-1918)
Rt Reverend Monsignor John D'Alton, MA, DD, DLitt (23-6-1936)
Rt Reverend Monsignor Edward Kissane, DD, LSS, DLitt, PA (23-6-1942)
Rt Reverend Monsignor Gerard Mitchell, DD (23-6-1959)
Rt Reverend Monsignor Patrick Corish, MA, DD (23-11-1967)
Rt Reverend Monsignor Jeremiah Newman, MA, DPh, LLD (8-10-1968)
Rt Reverend Monsignor Tomás Ó Fiaich, MA, LicScHist (12-6-1974)
Rt Reverend Monsignor Michael Olden, BA, BD, DHistEccl 26 9 1977)
Rt Reverend Monsignor Míceál Ledwith, BA, LPh, DD(13 3 1985)
Rt Reverend Monsignor Matthew O'Donnell, MA, BD, DPh.(22-6-1994)
Rt Reverend Monsignor Dermot Farrell, BSc, DD (9-12-1996)
Rt Reverend Monsignor Hugh Connolly, BA, DD (1-9-2007)

In its early years, Maynooth was involved in many controversies with the Government, initially over the education of Catholics, then over funding and the influence or otherwise perceived to accrue to being beholden to the English government. Since Irish Independence the converse would be somewhat through as to the influence of Maynooth and its trained clergy in the Irish Society, Maynooth would have been seen as being the venue of power of the clergy since the bishops held their conferences there. The foundation of the NUI also excluded members of Maynooth from its governing body as to limit the control of the Clergy over education.

Oath of Allegiance:

As part of the bill on which Maynooth College was founded students and trustees of the college were supposed to take an Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown, this was part of the reason why some clerical students would not attend since the perceived sponsor by a foreign government, or pledging allegiance to a Protestant Head of state and head of the Anglican church. The Oath was evaded by many of the students, some feigning sickness, some repeating the words improperly, and others exercising a mental reservation but all treat it lightly.

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:

Irish language activist and scholar Dr. Michael O'Hickey(1860-1916) was dismissed in 1909 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. He was supported by such Maynooth figures as College President Daniel Mannix and Professor of Theology Walter McDonald (1854-1920).

In 'An Linn Bhuí' the Irish language journal of Co Waterford, Dr O'Hickey's home county, Mícheál Briody, Lecturer at The Languages Centre, Helsinki University, Finland, shows us that Dr O'Hickey was a prominent member of The Gaelic League and fiercely in favour of compulsory Irish for the new University of Ireland, whereas Dr Mannix who was then President of St Patrick's College, Maynooth, together with most of the Catholic bishops, was opposed. This was the cause of Dr O'Hickey's sacking. As Briody points out, the Senate of the new University one year after Dr O'Hickey's sacking, agreed to Irish being compulsory for matriculation and not long after that Dr Mannix was posted as Archbishop to Melbourne, 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.

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, Maynooth but 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.

In 2009 the college received 26 new students, with 2 more being reported as ready to return during in the first term (Totalling 28 new students). 7 students also came from Scotland after the closure of Scotus College. These 35 new students brought the student population up to 87. A further 6 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.