Literary and Historical Society (University College Dublin)

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Literary and Historical Society
LandHcrest.jpg
Founded 1855
Home Page literaryandhistorical.org
President Professor Andrew J. Deeks

Ex-Officio Committee Members of the Literary and Historical Society, 160th Session[1]

Auditor Eoin MacLachlan
Honorary Treasurer Cian Leahy
Honorary Record Secretary Kevin Roche
Honorary Correspondence Secretary Conor Rock
Honorary Social Secretaries Isabelle Wilson & Rory Conlon
Honorary Debates Convenors Daniel Noble Stairs & Alanna McKeon-Silke
Honorary Public Relations Officers Ryan Kane & Joanna O' Malley
Honorary Librarian Grattan Aikins

The Literary and Historical Society (L&H) is the oldest debating society in University College, Dublin (UCD), which according to its constitution is "the College Debating Union".[2] Founded in 1855 by Father John Henry Newman (the future Cardinal Newman), it is one of the most prestigious and well-known student societies in Ireland. The society has over 5,100 enrolled members and is the largest student society in UCD.[3][4]

In 2013, UCD Alumni Relations carried out a survey of graduates from each decade starting from 1950's and earlier about their time at the university. Out of those survived, every generation voted the L&H as the best society.[5]

Activities[edit]

House debates[edit]

The Society gathers once a week to debate a topic of the day. This is the main activity of the society, and typically takes place on Wednesday evenings in the college's lecture theatres. Personalities central to the topic being discussed are invited to enlighten the house with knowledge and arguments specific to the motion.

Guest speakers and L&H accolades[edit]

The L&H also regularly invites speakers outside of debates. These speakers have included actor Roger Moore, linguist Noam Chomsky, Irish politician John Hume, writer Bill Bryson, economist John Nash and British politician Robin Cook. Guests range from academics to activists, and sometimes controversial figures.

The Society awards Honorary Fellowships and James Joyce Awards to individuals who have "contributed significantly to a field of human endeavour". Recipients of either of the two awards include F. W. De Klerk, Rev. Jesse Jackson,[6] Noam Chomsky and Prime Minister of Australia John Howard, actor Ralph Fiennes, actor Will Ferrell,[7] Harry Potter author JK Rowling,[8] former UN Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix, celebrated novelist Bill Bryson, former England soccer captain Gary Lineker, The Beatles' producer George Martin,[9] Monty Python member Michael Palin[10] and writer Salman Rushdie.[11]

Since the foundation of the Irish state, every President and Taoiseach has addressed the Society.

UCD Vice Presidents' Cup IV[edit]

The Vice Presidents' Cup is one of the longest running intervarsity on the Irish debating circuit. It draws teams from across the Islands of the North Atlantic (IONA) circuit, alongside European and American teams. It is uniquely acclaimed for a remarkably high level of competitors and adjudicators, and continues to increase its numbers and quality annually.

Occurring in the last week of October each year, its place on the calendar makes it the opening event of the Worlds preparation season.

Year Winning Team Top Speaker on Tab Chief Adjudicator
2011 Catherine Murphy and John Engle (TCD Hist) Catherine Murphy Sam Block and Stephen Boyle
2010 Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin and Ctolm Denny (TCD Hist) Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin (TCD Hist)/Doug Cochran (Cambridge) Gregg O'Neill and Ruth Faller
2009 Catherine Murphy and Huw Duffy (TCD Hist) Eoghan Casey (Kings Inns) Will Jones and Marguerite Carter
2008 Anne Byrne and Josephine Curry (TCD Hist) Brian O'Beirne (TCD Phil)/Brendan Bruen (Kings Inns) Declan Bruton and Noel McGrath
2007 Shane Farragher and John Moriarty (TCD Hist) Brian O'Beirne (TCD Phil) Ciaran Lawlor
2006 David Boughton and Ciaran Denny (TCD Hist) Jess Prince (Oxford)/David Kenny (TCD Hist) Derek Lande
2005 Barry Glynn and Morgan Shelley (Kings Inns) Sam Collins (ULU) Paul Brady
2004 Richard Osborne and Alexis Hearnden (Inner Temple) Richard Osborne (Inner Temple) Jeremy Brier

The Strauss Ball[edit]

Each year, the Soceity hosts UCD's only white tie ball, the Strauss Ball. Each lady attending is given a dance card, which they fill with ten different names. After waltzes with each person on the card, the orchestra moves aside for the DJ. The Society also hosts various nightclub events throughout the year.

Competitive debating[edit]

The L&H enjoys success as one of the stronger Irish debating institutions. The Society has won a number of international debating competitions and has enjoyed dominance in The Irish Times and Mace debating competitions as well as international and national intervarsities. The Society has attended the World Universities Debating Championship, and progressed further and has sent teams as far afield as Asia, Australia, Africa and North America. In 1987 & 2006, UCD hosted the World Universities Debating Championship.[12]

The Society also promotes and organises competitive debating in schools across Ireland through the Schools' Mace, the Leinster Schools Debating Competition and the Junior Schools Debating Competition which reach secondary schools throughout the country.

History[edit]

Foundation[edit]

The L&H was founded in 1855, a year after the foundation of the Catholic University of Ireland, the precursor to UCD. Both the university and the debating society were founded by Father John Henry Newman (future Cardinal Newman). One of the Society's most famous members from this era was James Joyce, who presented his paper "Drama and Life" before a crowd of assembled members in 1900.[13] Conor Cruise O'Brien served as Vice President of the Society during his time in UCD.[14]

Most of the College's societies, including the UCD Student Union itself can trace their roots to the L&H.

Earlsfort years[edit]

Before the university moved to Belfield, the debates were held on Saturday nights in the Physics Theatre, in Earlsfort Terrace. Here, the popularity and renown of the L&H flourished and the Society first became known on a national scale. Quite often, events occurring at the Society's debates made front page news in the national press.

At various occasions, college authorities and external bodies attempted to shut the Society down, most memorably in 1961, when the H&L was suspended by UCD authorities.[15] No such attempts have been successful.

On the Belfield campus[edit]

In 1972, the Society again relocated, this time to UCD's Belfield campus, where the majority of students now studied. Since this time the Society has grown in size and popularity due to the novice but dangerous initiation tasks that committee members carry out. Notably, in 1957 an unnamed committee member came close to being expelled after an event that the college refuses to disclose. The L&H continues to be the 'bearpit' for debate that it was renowned for since the 1950s.

Centennial and sesquicentennial histories[edit]

A 150th Anniversary book, edited by Frank Callanan SC, has been published to update James Meenan’s centenary history of the society, published in 1955. The book, together with the reprinted centenary history, details the complete story of Ireland's most famous debating society and comprises a range of articles by various personalities from the L&H's past on the last 50 years of the Society.

Organisation[edit]

Auditor and committee[edit]

The L&H is run by a committee of enrolled members, each with a specific portfolio of responsibilities. Each committee member is required to pass a stringent literacy test before taking office.[16] The committee is chosen by the Auditor, who is elected on a yearly basis by the enrolled membership of the Society. Notably there is no constitutional requirement for the Auditor to be literate. The Auditor is the head of the committee and responsible for the general running of the Society. Each Session begins in or around the beginning of the month of March, on the date of the annual AGM. The new Auditor for the coming year is appointed at this meeting, either as the result of an election from the enrolled membership or, in cases where a single candidate is unopposed, by nomination.

Previously in the 153rd session of the Society recorded record membership for any University society in Europe. The membership exceeded 5,000 members, surpassing by several hundred the previous record also set by the L&H in its 150th session. The most recent 159th session of the society yet again broke this record making it the university's largest ever society.[17]

President and vice presidents[edit]

These roles are largely ceremonial. The President of the L&H is Professor Andrew J Deeks, the President of UCD. There are a number of vice-presidents, mostly made up of former members.

Funding[edit]

The Society has received an increased amount of funding in recent years, due to corporate sponsorship and college contributions.[citation needed]The Society receives far less funding from College authorities than its yearly calendar of events demands, and as such seeks corporate sponsorship to cover the costs of each Session.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]