Republic of Ireland
Sisters of Mercy (1877–1988)
Our Lady of Mercy College, Carysfort (commonly known as Carysfort College) was a College of Education in Dublin, Ireland from its foundation in 1877 until its closure in 1988. Educating primary school teachers, and located in a parkland campus in Blackrock, it was a recognised college of the National University of Ireland from April 1975. The site is now the premises of the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, part of University College Dublin.
The college grounds lie just inland from Blackrock village, within the broader suburb, and comprised around 90 acres (364,000 m²), with extensive lawns, mature trees and the Carysfort-Maretimo Stream.
Carysfort Training College was set up as a training college for Catholic girls who wished to become teachers. The college was founded and run by the Sisters of Mercy. The college developed further when 'Sedes Sapientiae' (Seat of Wisdom) Training School for girls (a recognised Teacher Training college) of Catherine McAuley Baggot Street moved to Carysfort in Blackrock.
The Diploma in Primary School Education awarded by the college was recognised by the Irish Government's Department of Education for teaching in primary schools. The teacher training course, which had been a 2-year course, was lengthened to three years in 1974.
In 1975 reforms in the education system in Ireland saw Carysfort become a recognised college of the National University of Ireland along with other teacher training colleges such as Mary Immaculate College in Limerick and St. Patrick's Training College, Drumcondra. These reforms saw Carysfort and other institutions award the BEd Degree for their teacher training programmes, in 1977. The college also offered a postgraduate qualification in primary school teaching.
In 1982 a new library, a new 700-seat auditorium, a sports centre and an audio-visual centre were officially opened by the then Minister for Education.
In 1984 the government refused to allow Carysfort to provide a joint Masters in Education course with University College Dublin.
In the mid-1980s the possibility of establishing a National College of Music and Dramatic Arts on the Carysfort campus was investigated, other proposals were to locate a Regional Technical College on the site.
Sr. Regina (Teresita Durkan) was the last President of the College, serving from 1974 until 1988. Other presidents or principals included Sister Mary Liguori (Alice Keenan) who purchased Carysfort Park for the College, and Mother Teresita McCormack, President during the 1916 Rising.
In 1986 the Minister for Education Gemma Hussey announced the decision to close the 111-year-old College. She attributed the decision to "falling pupil numbers, a young teaching force, which was giving rise to few retirements, and the need to contain public expenditure and achieve 'a better allocation of resources.'".
The state had invested several million pounds in renovations that were completed as recently in 1983. The Sisters of Mercy, the owners, had the property valued at IR£20 million from the sale of the lands and buildings, and agreed to pay the State IR£1.7 million.
The most developed 20 acres (81,000 m²) of the estate, including the main buildings, were eventually sold to University College, Dublin (UCD) in 1991 for IR£8 million, after much speculation – it was not an unusual thing for the state to get property at a much reduced price at the time. This also led to further controversy as it was claimed that the university college was forced to purchase a property that it neither needed nor wanted – especially as its Belfield campus nearby was more than adequate for future expansion.
Many of the academic staff of the college transferred, on closure, to: St. Patrick's Teacher Training College (Drumcondra), NIHE (Dublin) (now Dublin City University), St. Patrick's College, Maynooth (now NUI Maynooth), Trinity College, Dublin and University College, Dublin.
The final students graduated with their teaching degrees from Carysfort College in 1988. For the last graduation ceremony, in October 1988, Seamus Heaney composed some Valedictory Verses.
The site today
UCD developed the Michael Smurfit School of Business on the site, and it continues to operate there.
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On November 10th 2018 a Carysfort College Commemoration event, to mark the 30th anniversary of the college's closure, took place on the site and at a nearby hotel. Attended by over 500 former students and staff, and facilitated by the Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business, the event was organized by graduates. A book, Carysfort College Remembered, was launched by Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, a graduate of Carysfort. The publication was edited by Seamus Mac Gabhann, a former lecturer in the institution, and features contributions from over 30 graduates and lecturers. Aine Hyland, former Admissions Officer, delivered a lecture on the history of the college, and Terrisita Durkan (Sr.Regina), College President 1974-1988, also spoke at the event.