27th April 1880
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In accordance with the University Education (Ireland) Act 1879, The Royal University of Ireland was founded as an examining and degree-awarding university (based on the model of the University of London). A Royal Charter was issued on 27 April 1880 which entitled the Royal University to grant any degree, similar to that of any other university in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (except in theology and divinity).

The university became the first university in Ireland that could grant degrees to women on a par with those granted to men

  • On 22 October 1884, it granted its first degree to a woman. Charlotte M. Taylor was conferred with a Bachelor of Music;
  • In 1888 Letitia Alice Walkington became the first woman in Great Britain or Ireland to receive a degree of Bachelor of Laws;
  • Margaret Cousins studied music at the RUI in Dublin, graduating in 1902;
  • Éamon de Valera – studied Mathematics at the RUI graduating in 1904;
  • Douglas Hyde was among the honorary degree recipients. He was awarded a DLitt in 1906.

Examinations at the Royal University of Ireland (RUI) were opened to candidates irrespective of attendance at college lectures. When the Queen's University of Ireland dissolved in 1882, the graduates, professors, students and colleges transferred to the RUI but no special status was accorded to the colleges of the former Queen's University. Among the educational institutions presenting presented students for examinations as well, were:

External students of non-approved colleges could also sit the RUI exams (and many did so) but at a disadvantage to the "designated colleges" above (whose professors were part of the university). Many schools, including convent schools, also prepared students for the examinations (including degree examinations) of the Royal University, including:

  • Dominican College, Eccles St, Dublin;
  • Alexandra College, Dublin;
  • Loreto College, St Stephen's Green, Dublin; 
  • Methodist College, Belfast;
  • High School for Girls, Derry; 
  • St Columb's College, Derry; 
  • Mungret College, Limerick;
  • Rutland School, Mountjoy Square, Dublin;
  • Dominican College, Sion Hill, Dublin; 
  • St. Angela's College, Cork;
  • St Louis's, Monaghan;
  • Presentation College, Cork;
  • Christian Brothers College, Cork;
  • Rochelle College, Cork.

 The first chancellor was the Irish chemist Robert Kane, who was succeeded by:

  • From 1885 William Monsell, 1st Baron Emly
  • From 1894 Reginald Brabazon 12th Earl of Meath
  • From 1906 Bernard Edward Barnaby Fitzpatrick, 2nd Baron Castletown of Upper Ossory 

On 31 October 1909 the Royal University was dissolved under the Irish Universities Act 1908, which provided for the transfer of graduates, staff and students to one or the other of these new universities:

  • the National University of Ireland and 
  • Queen's University Belfast took.

In 1909, the final conferring of 350 students of the Royal University of Ireland was marred by demonstrations in favour of the Irish Language being compulsory for the new National University.


  • Greetings!

    I am wondering if there is information I can access on my huband's grandmother, Margaret IRWIN, who graduated from the Royal University of Ireland in 1899.
    Source: (Coleraine Chronicle, 05 Aug 1899), Margaret Irwin, Union St, Coleraine, received her B.A. from the Royal University of Ireland.  The subjects of examination were mathematics, mathematical physics, English and French.  She studied at the University Classes, Kelvin House, Belfast.

    Many thanks!





    Sonja R

    Monday 12th October 2020 05:16AM
  • I'm also wondering if there is access to the University archive? The fact is that I am an employee of an international company providing services in writing essay. And now we have created a free citation generator https://edubirdie.com/citation/ieee/ and is used by hundreds of students in Ireland. But we are interested in confirming the manuscripts of unknown authors. In the archive https://archive.org/details/queenscollegesro00scho Whoever you advise does not have these data. If there are specialists on this forum who can help me, write to me.


    Tuesday 10th November 2020 12:05PM

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