Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy

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Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy
PresidentRev Dr Thomas R Whelan CSSp (Rector)
AffiliationsNUI (2005–2015)
HETAC (1989–2012)

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.

The college entered into negotiations about a possible alliance with University College Dublin in 2008. These talks were unsuccessful and an alliance with the traditionally Protestant Trinity College Dublin took effect in 2012 with the foundation of the Loyola Institute (of Catholic Theology).

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

The Irish School of Ecumenics, which was located at the Milltown Park site, is currently based in Trinity College Dublin.


Milltown Institute was established as a Pontifical Athenaeum with Faculties of Theology and Philosophy, by a group of religious institutes in 1968. The origins of the institute however could be traced back to the 1880s when the Jesuits established a School of Philosophy and a School of Theology at Milltown. 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 and became a Jesuit Pontifical Faculty in 1948, and returned to Milltown in 1966. 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 1993, the BA programme 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.[1] In 1996, the BA was recognised by the Teaching Council of Ireland for the teaching of religion in post-primary/secondary schools.[2]

An undergraduate Bachelor of Theology programme, in conjunction with the University of Wales, Lampeter,[3] 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.[4]

The KMI Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Anthropology degree was also recognised for teaching religion in post-primary schools.[2] From 1 September 2005 until 2015, Milltown was a Recognised College of the National University of Ireland (NUI).[3]


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[5] the institution negotiated with Trinity College Dublin to continue its existence as the Loyola Institute in a centre of study[5] 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.[6] The conferring of Ecclesiastical and HETAC awards took place on 2 October 2012, with NUI awards on 3 October 2012.

Library Sale[edit]

Following the closure of the Institute books from its library were sold in London in 2017 by Messrs Sotheby's.[7] The sale included rare and important books bequeathed to the Irish province of the Jesuits (evidently not in perpetuity, however) by the bibliophile judge William O'Brien upon his death in 1899.

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

Set up in 2016 SpIRE to raise awareness of spirituality as an applied academic discipline.[8] 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.[9]

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 53°19′04″N 6°14′42″W / 53.317785°N 6.24509°W / 53.317785; -6.24509