NUI Galway

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NUI Galway
OÉ Gaillimh
Crest of NUI, Galway.png
Latin: Universitas Hiberniae Nationalis apud Galviam
Former names
Queen’s College, Galway
University College, Galway
Motto Deo Favente
Motto in English
With the favour of God
Established 1845
Type Public
President Dr. James J. Browne
Registrar Prof. Pól Ó Dochartaigh
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 17,318[1]
Undergraduates 12,464[1]
Postgraduates 3,623[1]
Other students
Location Galway, Ireland
53°16′40″N 9°03′43″W / 53.277784°N 9.061860°W / 53.277784; -9.061860Coordinates: 53°16′40″N 9°03′43″W / 53.277784°N 9.061860°W / 53.277784; -9.061860
Affiliations AUA
Coimbra Group
NUI, Galway.png
Aula Maxima, also referred to as the Quadrangle

NUI Galway (Irish OÉ Gaillimh) is a constituent university of the National University of Ireland. It is located in Ireland's westerly city of Galway. A tertiary-level educational institution, it is ranked among the top 2 per cent of universities in the world.[2]

The university was founded in 1845 as Queen's College, Galway, and was more recently known as University College, Galway (UCG) (Irish: Coláiste na hOllscoile, Gaillimh or COG). Alumni include the incumbent Taoiseach and President of Ireland, Enda Kenny and Michael D. Higgins respectively, as well as numerous other prominent politicians. Other leading figures in Irish official life to have been educated here include Attorney General Máire Whelan and Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy.

NUI Galway is a member of the Coimbra Group, a network of 40 long-established European universities.


The university opened for teaching in 1849 as Queen's College, Galway with 37 professors and 91 students. A year later it became part of the Queen's University of Ireland. The Irish Universities Act (1908) made this college a constituent college of the new National University of Ireland, and under a new charter the name of the university changed to University College, Galway. It was given special statutory responsibility under the University College, Galway Act (1929) in respect of the use of the Irish language as the working language of the college. It retained the title of University College, Galway until the Universities Act (1997) changed it to the National University of Ireland, Galway.[citation needed]

Located close to the city centre, it stretches along the River Corrib. The oldest part of the university, the Aula Maxima (informally known as the Quadrangle) and designed by John Benjamin Keane, is a replica of Christ Church, one of the colleges at the University of Oxford. The stone from which it is built was supplied locally.[citation needed]

More modern parts of the university sprang up in the 1970s and were designed by architects Scott Tallon Walker. The 1990s also saw considerable development, including the conversion of an old munitions factory into a student centre. 21st-century developments include a state-of-the-art University Sports Centre (Ionad Spóirt), Áras Moyola, a new Health Science Building, Cairnes School of Business and Public Policy, the BioSciences Research Building and the Life Course Institute. A Clinical and Translational Research Building is under construction at present. A new Engineering Building was opened in 2011.[3] The highly toxic substance asbestos was removed from the university grounds on 13 occasions between March 2010 and June 2014.[4]

Nelson Mandela made a memorable appearance at the University in 2003. On what was his last visit to Ireland, Mandela condemned U.S. foreign policy and received an honorary doctorate from NUI Chancellor Garret Fitzgerald.[5]

In 2008, Éamon Ó Cuív was allegedly involved in an altercation with a protesting student on the grounds of the university.[6] Ó Cuív was Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister at the time and would go on to become Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil.[citation needed]

In 2009, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was forced to flee from a public discussion in NUI Galway after being jostled by students opposed to the the planned reintroduction of college fees.[7] Shorty afterwards, the University announced its withdrawal support for the Students' Union-run RAG week. The Students' Union president said she did not believe the decision was justified, with more than €20,000 having been raised for charity in 2009.[8]

NUI Galway has also announced details of plans to make the university a "campus of the future" at a cost of around €400 million.[9] Details of the future plans of the University also show a Human Biology building which will incorporate Anatomy, Physiology and other human sciences areas.[10] It formed a strategic alliance with University of Limerick in 2010, allowing for shared resources.[11] It launched its Strategic Plan "Vision 2020" (for the period 2015–2020) in 2015.[12] NUI Galway has allowed students access their examination papers online in advance.[13]

Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visited the campus on 19 May 2015.[14][15]


Like the other constituent universities of the National University of Ireland, the university follows the common college structure. The five Colleges of the University are:

  • College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies
  • College of Business, Public Policy and Law
  • College of Engineering and Informatics
  • College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
  • College of Science[citation needed]

Since January 2006, St. Angela's College, Sligo has been a college of the National University of Ireland, Galway; it was previously a recognised college of the National University of Ireland. Students of St. Angela's College, Sligo are registered as students of the National University of Ireland, Galway. Degrees and diplomas awarded are from the National University of Ireland.[citation needed]


Constituent schools found in the relevant colleges include:

  • School of Business and Economics
  • School of Chemistry
  • School of Education
  • School of Geography and Archaeology
  • School of Health Science
  • School of Humanities
  • School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
  • School of Law
  • School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics
  • School of Medicine
  • School of Natural Sciences
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Physics
  • School of Political Science and Sociology
  • School of Psychology


Galway University Foundation (GUF) was established in 1998 with the intention of generating financial support from private individuals and institutions for NUI Galway. It nurtures relationships with donors to whom NUI Galway's approach to education appeals. The recently built[when?] Life Course Institute, within this building the GUF has many 'Priority Projects' in development.[16]

Student life[edit]

Logo - NUIG students' union

NUI Galway has more than 110 active societies and more than 50 sports clubs. Five constituent society types exist: Debating & Political; Artistic & Performing; Social & Gaming; Religious & Socially Conscious; Academic.[17]

The oldest society on the campus is the Literary and Debating Society, founded in 1846. Another of the campus's oldest societies is (appropriately enough) that dedicated to the subject area of history, Cumann Staire (or History Society). It is a leading member of the Comhaltas na gCumann Staire - Irish History Students' Association and the International Students of History Association. One prominent and influential society at NUIG is "Dram Soc" (Drama Society), which played a part in the formation of the Druid Theatre Company, Macnas and the Galway Arts Festival.[18]

The Film Society produces original films and founded the NUI Galway Student Cinema; one of the most popular venues for students with multiple films per week. The Computer Society hosts all other societies emails and websites, and have one of the largest memberships. The Rotaract Society, part of the international Rotary family, hosts the annual charity fashion show, 'Socs in the City'. GUMS, the university musical society draws large crowds to its annual musicals in the Dubhlann/Black Box Theatre.[citation needed]

The Christian and LGBT societies were involved in a showdown over same-sex marriage in 2014.[19] The incident was provoked by Enoch Powell, auditor of the Christian Society, running for the position of Equality Officer in that year's student union election.[20]


International students make up 12 per cent of the student population at NUI Galway.[21] It welcomes over 500 Visiting Students from colleges and universities around the world each year, from countries including the USA, Canada and Malaysia. Various societies are present in the University to cater for international students, including the International Students Society, the Malaysian Society, and many others.[citation needed]



Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute
Áras Moyola, Health Science Building
J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics
New Engineering Building, North Campus
Name of President Year
Rev. Dr Joseph W. Kirwan 1845–1849
Edward Berwick 1850–1877
Sir Thomas William Moffett 1877–1897
W. J. M. Starkie 1897–1899
Dr Alexander Andersona 1899–1934
Monsignor John Hynes 1934–1945
Monsignor Pádraig de Brún 1945–1959
Dr Martin J. Newell 1960–1975
Dr Colm Ó hEocha 1975–1996
Dr Patrick F. Fottrell 1996–2000
Dr Iognáid G. Ó Muircheartaigh 2000–2008
Dr James J. Browne 2008 to present


Senior professors of note include Professor Nicholas Canny, a historian known for his work on early modern Ireland and Britain, and Professor Alan Ahearne, an economist working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).[23]

The physicist George Johnstone Stoney introduced the term electron as the "fundamental unit quantity of electricity."[citation needed]

The geologist William King was the first (in 1864) to propose that the bones found in Neanderthal, Germany in 1856 were not of human origin, but of a distinct species: Homo neanderthalensis, the name of which he proposed at a meeting of the British Association in 1863, with the written version published in 1864.[24]


For a more in-depth list, see List of NUI Galway people#Alumni.

In literature[edit]

James Joyce donated an original edition of Pomes Penyeach to the university's James Hardiman Library in 1932 after its publication in Paris.[31] The Library also holds unique archival collections dating from the 15th century.[31]

Other notable examples include:


The Sunday Times University Guide named the university as Irish University of the Year 2002-2003, 2009-2010.[32] More recently, NUI Galway was the only Irish university to move up in the 2014/2015 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. Having increased 53 places on its 2013/2014 position, NUI Galway now ranks at 261st in the world according to THE Rankings, and it was placed at 280th in the world in the QS World University Rankings for 2014/2015.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Report of the President 2011-2012" (PDF). 
  2. ^ "About NUI Galway". Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "New engineering building at NUI Galway displays green ethos". 15 July 2011. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "NUI Galway allays asbestos fears on campus". 2 May 2015. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Mandela’s attack on US over Iraq invasion recalled at NUI Galway". The Irish Times. 7 December 2013. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. 
  6. ^ McDonald, Brian; Brennan, Michael (11 December 2008). "O Cuiv defends use of force on protester". Irish Independent. 
  7. ^ "Anti-fees demonstration forces Ahern to abandon public interview". The Irish Times. 3 February 2009. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "NUIG withdraws its support for rag week because of 'unruly behaviour'". The Irish Times. 26 February 2009. 
  9. ^ "Campus of the future" (PDF). 
  10. ^ "Campus of the future" (PDF). 
  11. ^ "Universities form 'strategic alliance'". RTÉ News. 18 February 2010. 
  12. ^ "Vision 2020". 
  13. ^ McDonald, Brian (28 March 2014). "Students access NUI Galway exam papers with simple web search". Irish Independent. 
  14. ^ "Over 200 gardai patrol NUIG campus as Royal visit imminent". 19 May 2015. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "Media escorted to Quad at NUIG ahead of Royal arrival". 19 May 2015. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. 
  16. ^ "Galway University Foundation". 
  17. ^ "University Societies Coordination Group (USCG)". 
  18. ^ "Dram Soc". 
  19. ^ "Rival protests over gay marriage at NUI Galway". RTÉ News. 12 March 2014. 
  20. ^ "Gardaí called to NUI Galway as students confront Christian activists". 12 March 2014. 
  21. ^ "International students". 
  22. ^ "Interesting Facts And History About NUI Galway". Archived from the original on 30 May 2015. 
  23. ^ "NUI Galway economist appointed advisor to IMF". 16 June 2014. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. 
  24. ^ "William King". History of NUI Galway, the Science Faculty and associated scientists. 
  25. ^ "Molloy given new IRB medical role". BBC Sport. 12 October 2005. 
  26. ^ "Aer Arann Alumni Award for Sports Achievement and Leadership" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 May 2015. BA 1972 [...] Following his Leaving Certificate in 1969, he enrolled as an Arts student in U.C.G. He graduated with an Arts degree in English, French & History in 1972 ... 
  27. ^ "NUI Galway Graduate appointed Cardinal". 6 February 2001. Archived from the original on 30 May 2015. 
  28. ^ "CAIRDE" (PDF). January 2007. 
  29. ^ Steinberg, Jacques (10 April 2006). "'West Wing' Writers' Novel Way of Picking the President". The New York Times. And Mr. Sheen? At 65, he has decided to make good on a promise he made to himself long ago: to enroll, for the first time, in college. [...] he will began taking classes next fall — in English literature, philosophy and, he hopes, oceanography — at National University of Ireland in Galway 
  30. ^ "What Our Graduates Are Up To". Archived from the original on 30 May 2015. 
  31. ^ a b "NUI Galway Archives brings you Culture Night 2012". 28 August 2012. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. 
  32. ^ "NUI Galway is Sunday Times University of the Year for second time". 
  33. ^ "NUI Galway is only Irish university to rise in latest world rankings, taking third place nationally". 2 October 2014. 

External links[edit]