Though the last two universities we covered were based in Dublin (and there’s more to come,) and most universities in Ireland are based around already existing city centers, there is one exception…Maynooth University! Only 25 kilometers (just over 15 miles) from Dublin in North Kildare, Maynooth is located in Ireland’s only university town, and a historic one at that. Technically Ireland’s youngest university (until the establishment of Technological University Dublin in 2019,) Maynooth became independent from National University of Ireland in 1997 (though it still functions under its umbrella)…but its history is a little more complicated than that.
The earliest iteration of Maynooth dates back to 1518 when it was called the College of St. Mary’s, though it didn’t last long under British rule. When The Royal College of St. Patrick was established in 1795 on the same land, it stuck (though it did become Royal University when the Church of Ireland was dissolved in 1886) until the National University of Ireland absorbed the school in 1910. It was re-founded and separated in 1997, with the focus on the Sciences, the Arts, and Celtic studies, with an outreach campus at St. Kieran’s College in Kilkenny. This makes it both one of Ireland’s oldest and newest higher educational institutions! Fast forward to today, and Maynooth is divided into two campuses: the south/old campus and the north/new campus, which marries Maynooth’s historical significance with its cutting-edge academic programming.
Like most of Ireland’s universities, there’s very little not on offer for study at Maynooth, but the school is divided into three main sections: Celtic Studies and Philosophy, Science and Engineering, and Social Sciences. It’s ranked 49th in the world in universities under 50 years old, and as it’s adjacent to Ireland’s equivalent to California’s Silicon Valley, internships and employment in the high-grossing tech industry is a common path after graduation. In fact, employment rates for graduates of Maynooth are high across the board, no matter your course of study, with 93% of graduates reporting they left Maynooth and secured employment or pursued a higher course of study after graduation. Maynooth is known for their flexible curriculum that lets students help design their own education and tailor it to their purposes, pivoting away from the typical UK/Ireland model of all classes within a specific discipline and allowing students to pursue something more akin to a liberal arts education if they so choose. All classes focus on critical thinking and communication over rote memorization.
Maynooth also has the distinction of being Ireland smallest (though fastest growing) university, with approximately 13,000 students. The student body is a diverse one, as it has Ireland’s highest proportions of mature students (16%) and access students (i.e. students who aren’t fully enrolled, generally part of the community auditing classes, at 22%). And it’s a happy student body, as well, with the international facet of the student body the happiest in all of Europe—they even won the StudyPortals International Student Satisfaction Award (beating out even all those Nordic countries that rate so high on the World Happiness Report every year.) Those surveyed cited Maynooth’s “charming and lively” campus, the small class sizes, the friendly faculty, and the close community feeling of the student body as the biggest pluses to attending Maynooth.
Despite its small size, Maynooth doesn’t skimp on the extracurriculars. With over 100 clubs and societies on campus, student life is full and thriving, with scholarship offered academically and for sport. There’s also the host of traditions you’d expect from an institution with such deep roots. While there’s no big game per say, Maynooth and Dublin City University are rivals and have a yearly competition called “35s” where all the sports clubs compete against each other. Around Christmas, students can enjoy Christmas Carols in the chapel on the old campus and each October there’s the Hamilton Walk to commemorate mathematician William Rowan Hamilton. While there is accommodations on campus for students, its , Maynooth isn’t only a university town in name—the students are its main residents!
But we’re not done yet! There’s still more schools in Ireland to cover…join us next time for a journey to Cork!
This post is part of a series. Read our last Modern Ireland post, full of movie recommendations for our SRL parents, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
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