Visiting University College Cork, Ireland: a mature institution of learning

Flag of the Republic of Ireland
Flag of the Republic of Ireland | Source
University College Cork buildings
University College Cork buildings | Source
Gate, University College Cork
Gate, University College Cork | Source
Map location of Cork City, Ireland
Map location of Cork City, Ireland | Source

Architectural and scholarly distinction

University College Cork (Irish: Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh) was opened in 1849 as Queen's College, Cork (Irish: Corcaigh). The College forms part of the National University of Ireland (Irish: Ollscoil na hÉireann). Originally, there were three linked insitutions in the 19th century — based at Cork, Galway and Belfast — which were collectively known as the Queen's University of Ireland. Later, these institutions went their separate ways, with Queens University Belfast becoming a university in its own right, while University College Cork (UCC) and University College Galway (UCG) became part of the National University of Ireland, established in 1908.

The main quadrangle in Tudor Gothic style, executed in stone, was by Cork architect Sir Thomas Deane. While in the years prior to Irish independence several of the larger cities of the British Isles saw the foundation of universities in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the architecture of UCC's main quadrangle reflects an 'Oxbridge' College style rather than that of a typical civic university.

UCC scholars and alumni have attained considerable distinction. Just a few of these include: George Boole (1815-1864), the mathematician whose work in algebra is reckoned to have contributed materially to the development of the modern computer; writer Sean Ó Faoláin (1900-1991); former Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister); Jack Lynch (1917-1999); significantly, in the late 19th century the study of medicine was already open at UCC to women.

A well appointed facility, the Glucksman Art Gallery, is housed at the College. A collection of Ogham Stones, reflecting an early form of the Irish language, is preserved at UCC.

There is an old saying which described ancient Ireland as the 'land of saints and scholars'. Certainly, from the scholarship aspect, University College Cork has a thoroughly well established heritage.

Also worth seeing

In Cork City itself, well known sights include St Finbarre's Cathedral (Irish: Ardeaglais Naomh Fionnbarra ), the City Hall and the Shandon church tower. with its bells.

Cobh (distance: 22 kilometres); the spired St Colman's Cathedral is a major landmark; the Lusitania memorial brings poignant memories.

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How to get there: Aer Lingus flies from New York and Boston to Dublin Airport, from where car rental is available. Bus Éireann operates bus services to Cork City from Dublin's Busárus (bus station). Irish Rail operates rail services from Dublin Heuston Station to Cork City. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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