University College Galway – December 1997

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University College Galway was founded as the College of the Queen’s University in 1845.

By the Irish University Act I908, Queens College Galway became a constituent College of the National University. A new charter for the College was issued on December 20, 1908 changing the name of the College to University College, Galway. In I929 the “University College Galway Act” was enacted by the Oireachtas of Saorstat Eireann.

The main Quadrangle building itself is of Tudor architectural style. New buildings were erected and it has been added to over the years. There are now seven Faculties of Arts, Celtic Studies, Commerce, Engineering, Law, Medicine and Science. The student population has continued to increase year after year to the present figure of 9,000 students, with 7,000 being full-time.

There is now a wide range of courses available and students are now spoilt for choice. Here is a rundown of what’s on offer in UCG: Accountancy, Adult Education, Anatomy, Ancient Classics, Applied Geophysics, Archaeology, Biochemistry, Botany, Business Studies, Chemistry, Data Processing, Economics, Education, Engineering (Civil), Electrical Engineering, Hydrology Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, English Experimental Medicine, French, Gaelige, Geography, Geology, German, History, Health Promotion, Industrial Engineering, Information Technology, Italian, Law, Marketing, Mathematics, Mathematical Physics, Medicine, Microbiology, Obstetrics, Oceanography, Paediatrics, Philosophy, Political Science and Sociology, Romance Languages, Pharmacology, Physics, Psychiatry, Psychology, Spanish, Surgery and Zoology. New courses are being developed all the time and there is also a growing number of overseas students from nearly 50 nations studying in UCG.

The University, also has a well-stocked Library, the Martin Ryan Institute, the Sport and Recreation Centre, Computer Services, Carna Shell Fish Laboratory and the Carron Research Station along with a number of units for the setting up of new businesses. There are Student Services including a travel agency and coffee-shop. A major Restaurant, Art Gallery, a new College Bar, Bookshop and Banks completes this list.

From a historical point of view, the Library contains many rare books including minutes of Corporation Meetings dating back 500 years to the foundation of Galway Corporation in 1484. Over the years a number of famous people have been conferred with Honorary Degrees including former President of the USA, Ronald Regan and the film actress, Maureen O’Hara.

Just recently, a new state of the art Sports and Recreation Centre has been opened for staff and students and the Centre also incorporates a Student Health Unit. Also, on campus is a newly built multi-denominational University Church called after St. Columba. The number of societies stands at 50 and there are 30 Athletic clubs. UCG is now a popular place for holding conferences,

Seminars and even Banquets are organised from outside the College. There are 11 lecture theatres with a capacity to hold from 70 to 360 delegates, plus extensive exhibition space, a Board-Room and class rooms which can seat from 5 to 100 delegates. There is state of the art audio-visual and computer equipment available. The Restaurant seats 600 and banquets are held in the Aula Maxima. A prayer room for Muslims is provided and there is also a mosque outside College for the Islamic population. USIT has a travel office on the Concourse.

University College Hospital Galway is also a UCG teaching hospital where many students from south-east Asia and North America study medicine. The Corrib Village is a new students’ residence built beside the Corrib and is equipped with all the mod cons where the students can stay for their first year before they move out into other accommodation.

During the summer when all the students have gone, the Corrib Village is rented out to holiday-makers and is an ideal location for family holidays. Conferring of degrees takes place each year in the months of June, July and December. Each year up to about 2,000 students get their degrees.

For the first time in living memory, all college staff were invited to a Meeting by the President of the College, Dr. Pat Fottrell. All the staff, 1083 in number were seated under the one roof to hear the President deliver his Strategic Plan 2006. In his address, he outlined details of the plan which includes a capital investment of £24 million. Our vision for the future is to be an Institution where “Learning and Leadership for Life and Work” is our trademark. A programme innovation fund of £150,000, demonstrates the value the University places on research and a Millennium Fund for research has also been established.

For the first time a Presidential award scheme has been set up for Staff. The President, Dr. Fottrell said UCG would develop the physical resources of the University to provide a Campus for 10,000 students and for which £15 million will be allocated in capital development. The Quadrangle will be restored, a modern Language Centre will be built along with an Arts Postgraduate Building, new lecture theatres, a new Science Building, an Information Technology Unit and an extension to the Library. Nine million pounds will be spent on new buildings and the existing facilities will be refurbished.

More than half of the £24 million will come from the private sector and a professional fund -raising campaign is underway and he, also, announced the establishment of the Galway University Foundation. UCG is one of the largest employers in the West with an operating income of £46 million and a staggering £80 million is generated in the local economy, making the University’s effect on the Business and Services sectors enormous.

I must remind all that the first University was built in Athenry with the coming of the Dominican Order which made Athenry a great place of learning and leadership at that time long before UCG was established. Athenry was the home of the late Professor Margaret Heavey, who was Professor of Ancient Classics and Dean of Arts from 1970 to 1976. She lived in Old Church St and was a student in UCG and often cycled to College during the war years. My father ran a hackney service at that time and he used to drive Professor Heavey to College for many years. We provided that service for her until she passed away in 1980.

Professor Heavey left a generous donation to the College in the form of the Athenry Prizes. In order to be eligible for the award of a Prize, a student must pass the examination for which the prize is awarded. The value of each prize is £50. Professor Heavey is also remembered and honoured by her former Department with an annual memorial lecture.

Paddy McNamara – Author

I now work in UCG and since then my son Paul has had the privilege of studying and graduating from the same College. Indeed, many Athenry people have over the years studied in UCG and are now in employment at home and abroad.

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About this record

Written by Paddy McNamara

Published here 16 Feb 2023 and originally published December 1997

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