June 9th, 1909
FROM THE ARCHIVES:The National University, set up in 1908, wasn’t the Catholic university the church wanted, but Cardinal Michael Logue made it clear in this report on his speech at the opening of a new wing of St Marys Marist College, Dundalk, that he planned to change that.
FOR ALL the past generations and before the days of persecution, facility was denied to Irish Catholics of receiving a University education under circumstances which would enable them to avail of this education without prejudice to their conscience. Now that barrier had to a great extent been removed. In the new National University they would all find an opportunity of availing themselves of the very best assistance which they could get in cultivating their minds with safety. [...] However, they should not imagine that he [the cardinal] was completely satisfied with what had been done for them in the matter of University education. Perhaps he was constitutionally a grumbler (laughter) but he thought he had room for grumbling in the present instance. They had given them a University, to be sure [...] But it was far, far short of what they, Irish Catholics, would look upon as an ideal University. They had the reputation of being a religious people, and as far as religion was concerned, religion was ostracised, and ostracised pretty extensively, from that newly-founded University, which came to them like all the gifts that they received from their friends across the Channel. When they made any concession they had the brand of slavery deeply impressed upon it. (Applause.)
That might seem to them very strong language but he thought that he could justify it. Whenever anything was done for a free people, they were generally consulted, and as far as possible their views were carried out. It was only upon slaves that gifts were bestowed which were altogether out of keeping with what they wished for, and expected to get. This was a general rule which held for the greater part of the Empire. [...] There were these two exceptions to this general rule in the British Empire. The first was Ireland, and the other India, but he thought that the India exception would not last long. (Laughter.) They were beginning to awake, to feel their strength, and he thought that they would be consulted in the future (applause) but the unfortunate Irishmen must take what they get with the best gratitude they can muster. [...] About 35 years ago the National Schools were established in this country, and they had the brand of slavery and proselytism deeply impressed upon them. People took them up – some rather reluctantly at the start – and made them tolerant. They were not perfection yet. Under the guidance of the learned Senate [of the NUI] and the grand body of laws drawn up for their guidance by the Royal Commission, they would be able to make the National University tolerable, and perhaps improve it as they went along, and they would succeed in bringing religion into it.