Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy

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Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy
Former names
Miltown Park
Religious affiliation
Academic affiliations
NUI (2005–2015)
HETAC (1989–2012)
Pontifical Athenaeum(1968-2015)
PresidentRev Dr Thomas R Whelan CSSp (Rector)

53°19′04″N 6°14′42″W / 53.3178°N 6.2451°W / 53.3178; -6.2451Coordinates: 53°19′04″N 6°14′42″W / 53.3178°N 6.2451°W / 53.3178; -6.2451

The Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy was a Jesuit-run institution of higher education and research, located in Dublin, Ireland. It was located in Ranelagh, County Dublin.

From November 1989, when it was granted designated status under the National Council for Educational Awards, it developed and offered civil programmes leading to Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral awards.

From 2005 until 2015, it was a "Recognised College" of the National University of Ireland. Under the 1997 Universities Act, the Irish government removed the ban on the NUI awarding degrees in Theology which had stood since its foundation and its predecessor the Royal University of Ireland.

The Milltown Institute was also an Ecclesiastical Faculty with official designation by the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome.

By 2011, the future of the Milltown Institute had become uncertain[clarification needed] and it was finally decided to close the Institute permanently.

Jesuit Novitiate[edit]

The origins of the institute could be traced back to 1860 when the Jesuits in Ireland became a separate Province (where previously since 1830 it had been a sub-province) and a Jesuit Novitiate was established in Milltown park[1] and the Jesuits established a School of Philosophy (Philosophate) and a School of Theology (Theologate) at Milltown. Jesuits would have studied for secular degrees in University College Dublin (for a time under the control of the jesuits) and their religious studies at Milltown, as the National University of Ireland (as the Royal University of Ireland before it) was prohibited from awarding Theology degrees. The School of Theology had had an unbroken history at Milltown since 1889, and became a Jesuit Pontifical Faculty in 1932. The School of Philosophy moved from Milltown in 1930 to St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, Co. Offaly,[2] and became a Jesuit Pontifical Faculty in 1948, and returned to Milltown in 1962.[3] In 1949 land adjacent to Milltown park was purchased and Gonzaga College was opened in 1950, and in 1951 on this property purchased by Rector O'Grady, the Catholic Workers College (which evolved into the National College of Industrial Relations and is now the National College of Ireland) was set up. In the 1960s the public Milltown Lectures were conducted. With the drop in vocations, the Milltown Institute was created in 1968.

Rectors of Milltown Park[edit]

  • Fr. Daniel Jones, S.J.
  • Fr. Edmund O'Reilly, S.J. (1863-1870)
  • Fr. William Sutton, S.J. (1895-1903)
  • Fr. Peter Finlay, S.J. (1905-1910)
  • Fr. Albert Power S.J. (1910-1918)
  • Fr. Martin Maher S.J. (1918-?)
  • Fr. Fergus O'Donoghue S.J.
  • Fr. Joseph Lentaigne S.J.
  • Fr. John Hannon S.J. (1924-1930)
  • Fr. Cyril Power S.J. (1930-1938)
  • Fr. John McMahon, S.J. (1938-
  • Fr. Michael Aloysius (Louis) O'Grady, S.J. (1947-1953) became provincial in 1953
  • Bp. James Corboy, S.J., (1959-1962), became Bishop of Monze, Zambia
  • Fr. Cecil McGarry, S.J., became Provincial in 1968, and later served the East African Province
  • Fr. Noel Barber, S.J.,
  • Fr. Conall O'Cuinn S.J., BSc(Hons), BPhil, BD (2010-2014)
  • Fr. Bill Callanan S.J., BA, MPhil

Miltown Institute[edit]

Milltown Institute was established as a Pontifical Athenaeum with Faculties of Theology and Philosophy, by a group of religious institutes in 1968. In 1968 the Carmelites who previously had trained Gort Mhuire and began studying in Milltown.[4] 1979 saw the Bachelor of Divinity (BD) programme approved by the Teaching Council of Ireland.

The Lonergan Centre a research centre for the study of the works of Canadian theologian and philosopher Bernard Lonergan was founded in 1975 in Milltown, by Conn O’Donovan SJ and Philip McShane SJ.

In 1984 a programme of studies in Spirituality was introduced. The Pastoral Department came into being in 1987 and its one-year Diploma in Pastoral Studies. In 1989 a two-year evening adult theology course commenced.

In 1989 Certificates and Diplomas became validated by the Irish Government's National Council for Education Awards (NCEA) the forerunner of HETAC, and Milltown became a designated NCEA centre.

In 1993, the BA programmes in Theology and Philosophy, and National Diploma in Philosophical Studies, joined the CAO system for applications to third-level courses, from 1994 degree students could apply for Higher Education Grants, and in 1995 students of NCEA courses became eligible for the government free fees initiative.[5] In 1996, the BA was recognised by the Teaching Council of Ireland for the teaching of religion in post-primary/secondary schools.[6]

2001, seen the start of the MA in Applied Spirituality, originally validated by HETAC until 2005 and NUI recognition, this programme moved to All Hallows College in 2012.

An undergraduate Bachelor of Theology programme, in conjunction with the University of Wales, Lampeter,[7] was launched in September 2003. The institute also developed a number of post-graduate initiatives with Lampeter.

In 2003 the Kimmage Mission Institute (KMI) Institute of Theology and Cultures moved from Kimmage Manor to Milltown becoming part of the Dept. of Mission Theology and Culture, and from 2006 the alliance was made permanent.[8]

The KMI Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Anthropology degree was also recognised for teaching religion in post-primary schools.[6] From 1 September 2005 until 2015, Milltown was a Recognised College of the National University of Ireland (NUI).[7] Education Minister Mary Hannifan, and NUI Chancellor Garret Fitzgerald attended the ceremony bestowing Recognised College status on Milltown.

Milltown validated certificate, diploma, degree and masters courses for The Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland (CIBI) from 2006 until 2015.[9] The director of CIBI Patrick Mullins OCarm, and Dean of Theology at Milltown, ran distance learning theology programmes for Milltown as


The Milltown Institute discontinued their teaching and research programmes and closed at the end of July 2015. After the Jesuit-founded University College Dublin rejected Milltown's approaches[10] the institution negotiated with Trinity College Dublin to continue its existence as the Loyola Institute in a centre of study[10] along with the Irish School of Ecumenics. In this eventuality, the property in Milltown would be sold and a new facility either purchased or purpose-built at Trinity College Dublin's campus in the centre of Dublin. Staff and faculty members who held positions until 2011 would, for the most part, not continue within the new Loyola Institute.[11] The conferring of Ecclesiastical and HETAC awards took place on 2 October 2012, with NUI awards on 3 October 2012. The Carmelite programmes moved back to the Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland in Gort Mhuire, in 2015 and programmes began to be awarded by Maynooth College. Most of the buildings and site, some 10.5 acres were sold in 2020.[12]

The Jesuit Library[edit]

Since the foundation at Milltown Park of the Jesuit Schools of Philosophy and Theology, the Irish Jesuits have gathered publications, which now holds 140,000 volumes and over 2000 journals. A purpose-built library, the Jesuit Library was opened in 1938 to house the collection.[13][14] The Library had grown its number of books on spirituality when the programme was run in Milltown, while some of this was transferred to the programme in All Hallows from 2016 much of this library returned to Milltown to form the Spirituality Institute Library.

Library Sale[edit]

Following the closure of the Institute books from its library were sold in London in 2017 by Sotheby's.[15] The sale included rare and important books bequeathed to the Irish province of the Jesuits by the bibliophile judge William O'Brien upon his death in 1899.

Jesuit DCU Partnership[edit]

The Dublin City University Jesuit Library Partnership saw the Milltown Park Library move to Woodlock Hall in DCUs All Hallows College Campus, where the Theology faculty is based.[16] The library consists of 140,000 volumes and is described as a ten-year loan.[17]

Spirituality Institute for Research and Education (SpIRE)[edit]

Set up in 2016 SpIRE to raise awareness of spirituality as an applied academic discipline.[18] Starting in August 2016, SpIRE in conjunction with the Waterford Institute of Technology delivers an MA in Applied Spirituality from All Hallows College, Dublin, as had been previously from the Milltown Institute.[19]

Milltown Studies[edit]

Milltown Studies was a twice-yearly journal, first published in 1977 by the institute, on topics theology, philosophy spirituality, literature, culture, and history. Contributors included Lambert McKenna SJ, Thomas Morrissey SJ, Martin McNamara, John Navone SJ, Thomas O'Loughlin, Mary Midgley and Imogen Stuart. It ceased publication in 2015 after a double edition (No. 77 & 78).

People Associated with the Milltown Institute[edit]

Presidents of the Milltown Institute[edit]

  • James McPolin SJ president (1983–1989)
  • Paul Lennon OCarm (1989–1995) first non-jesuit president
  • John Macken SJ president (1995–1996)
  • Brian Grogan SJ served as president of the institute (–2006)
  • Bernadette Flannagn PBVM acting president (2006–2007) – director of Spirituality Institute
  • Finbar Clancy SJ acting president (2008)
  • Cornelius J Casey CSsR president (2008–2010) – formerly president of Kimmage Mission Institute (1996–1999)
  • Thomas R. Whelan CSsP president/rector (2010– ) – formerly president of Kimmage Mission Institute (2001–2003)

People who have Studied at Milltown[edit]

  • Pope Francis spent eight weeks in Milltown studying English in 1980.[20]
  • Stephen Chow, Bishop of Hong Kong, graduated with a Licentiate in Philosophy
  • Paul Dempsey (bishop), Bishop of Achonry, completed a master's degree in theology in milttown
  • Mary McAleese, former Irish president earned a H.Dip. and MA in Canon Law from Milltown.
  • Alan McGuckian, Bishop of Raphoe studied philosophy at milltown.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ The Society of Jesus in Ireland Post 1814: A Historiographical Survey by Brian Jackson, Jesuit History Online.
  2. ^ Jesuits of Tullabeg Rahan Parish website
  3. ^ The Jesuits in Tullabeg by Fr Kevin Laheen SJ, Vol 3.
  4. ^ A History of Gort Mhuire (1944-1994 by Peter O'Dwyer OCamm,, 1994.
  5. ^ Study Theology at the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy; accessed 9 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b List of Recognised Degree/Teacher Education Programmes, Teaching Council of Ireland, January 2012.
  7. ^ a b History of the NUI - Milltown Institute
  8. ^ KMI Institute of Theology and Cultures website,; accessed 9 April 2016.
  9. ^ About The Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland
  10. ^ a b Milltown Institute Ninth Level.
  11. ^ Loyola Institute webpage, Trinity College Dublin
  12. ^ Jesuit Jackpot as Milltown Park site sold for 66m The Irish Catholic, by Chai Brady, February 20, 2020.
  13. ^ The Jesuit Library Ask about Ireland
  14. ^ The Jesuit Library
  15. ^ The Library of William O’Brien: Property of the Milltown Park Charitable Trust Sotheby's, 7 June 2017.
  16. ^ DCU Jesuit Library Partnership sees Milltown Park Library move to All Hallows News, DCU, October 9, 2019.
  17. ^ Renowned Jesuit library transferred to DCU by Sally Dobie, October 16, 2019.
  18. ^ Media Coverage of Launch of SpIRE
  19. ^ MA in Applied Spirituality WIT Website.
  20. ^ A spartan room in Milltown: Francis's last visit to Dublin by John Meagher, Irish Independent, August 26, 2020.