Queen's College Cork (now UCC) was established in 1845 and teaching began in October 1849.One of the first jobs of the newly formed college was to progress a museum of Natural History (Zoology, Botany, Geology) and to develop a Botanic Garden.
Rev. William Hincks (1794-1871) was appointed first Professor of natural History at Cork in 1849, despite having applied for the Chair in Botany alone.
Hincks played a major role in developing the museum, botanic gardens and herbaria at Cork, even at one point making himself ill through the effort he spent on the projects.
An early report of the President of the College notes: "The collections of Botany and Zoology, however, have been brought to a more advanced condition of classification and arrangement by the zeal and assiduous co-operation of Prof. Hincks who devoted himself to that object, although being quite beyond and independent of what his statutory duties should require, and indeed at one time to the injury of his health".
Hinks' father, Thomas Dix Hincks, had as part of the Royal Cork Institution, established a short-lived botanical garden some distance from the site of the University and the son was keen to set out the grounds of the new college as a new garden for Cork. This was despite some feeling that such a thing was a luxury the college could do without.
William Hincks recieved the support of the then President Kane and started a garden on campus which would, "as far as climate will allow" give "illustrations of all the orders" and be used for teaching "medical students and economic plants".
In a letter to William Hooker Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Hincks appealled for samples to add to the collection: "We have just laid out a small Botanic garden in connexion (sic) with the College. Our object is to have every medical or economic plant which will bear the open air in our climate...great hopes that everlong we shall have a small but very useful conservatory but at present we only want hardy things. Will it be in your power to spare us a few interesting things from the magnificent Collection under your care?"
Since its instigation by Hincks in the 1840's to the present day, the grounds of UCC has developed into an environment rich in plant diversity with a large collection of native and exotic tree species forming an important part of the campus landscape.
A number of the trees are Irish 'Champions' and all complement the range of buildings across the college - from the historic Quadrangle to the iconic Glucksman Gallery.
University College Cork welcomes visitors and as well as taking in the buildings of note on the campus, visitors should look out for the array of significant (and historic) trees that remain a unique inheritance from the staff and students that have gone before us.