UCD and Newman’s canonisation ceremony


Sir, – In explaining UCD’s non-representation at the canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman,  an unnamed spokeswoman for the institution has stated that it has been a secular foundation since 1908 (News, October 7th). 

Perhaps this spokeswoman should read the 67-page chapter “Church and College” in Donal McCartney’s UCD : A National Idea (1999). Prof McCartney wrote that “the mind and character of the college from the outset were permeated by Catholicism” and that UCD “had been in a very special sense the creation of the Catholic hierarchy”.

For many years clerics held academic appointments there (of the original 51 chairs and lectureships in 1908, eight were occupied by priests). The staff included prominent lay Catholics and Prof McCartney refers to UCD’s Catholic ethos. He writes also that “the bishops’ relationship with UCD was particularly intimate”. One UCD president, Michael Tierney, was on close terms with Archbishop McQuaid and had a policy of “exhibiting UCD as being in direct succession to Newman’s Catholic University”.

No appointments of non-Catholics in at least one department (history) were made until the 1960s.

UCD today is certainly secular but it should not be pretended that this has been the case for all of the last 111 years. – Yours, etc,



A chara, – I write in reference to Patsy McGarry’s article “No official Irish presence at Newman canonisation”, in which he correctly points out that “neither the Government nor UCD are expected to be officially represented” at the event.

A number of former UCD professors and alumni have expressed regret at UCD’s failure to properly honour their founder and first president whose legacy in educational theory is unequalled and whose prowess as an intellectual (apart from his sanctity) is unquestioned.

Fortunately, UCD Chaplaincy stepped into the breach!

Two events have been organised to mark the historic moment: first, a lecture (Useful or Useless? Newman’s Vision of Liberation Education) by the internationally renowned Newman scholar and author of his definitive biography, Prof Ian Ker, Oxford University, which took place in the George Moore auditorium UCD, O’Brien Science wing, on Wednesday; and second, by popular demand, a student pilgrimage to Rome for the canonisation.

In fairness to UCD, these two events have been greatly supported and sponsored by key players in the university’s network.

Unofficially, UCD has not been found wanting, whatever about its official non-response. – Yours, etc,


UCD Chaplain,

Dublin 2

Sir, – I am dismayed to see that there will be no official representation from UCD or the State in Rome this Sunday. This shows a total lack of understanding or appreciation of the role of UCD’s founder. Other institutions he contributed to clearly have no problem in this regard. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – If it is true that my own university should decide not to send a representative to Cardinal John Henry Newman’s canonisation ceremony, I would consider this ungenerous. He is, after all, our “sine qua non”.

Indeed university education worldwide acknowledges its debt to his generous scholarship. – Yours, etc,


(Emeritus Professor

of Education, UCD),


Co Dublin.