Tadhg Ó Ciardha

Portrait, Tadhg O Ciardha, Derek Hill, UCC

Tadhg Ó Ciardha MA PhD MRIA, President, University College Cork, 1978-1988

Tadhg Ó Ciardha (1919-1995) was born Timothy Morgan Carey on 14 March 1919 to Michael Carey (labourer) and his wife Hannah Dunstan in Kinsale, Co. Cork, but the family relocated to Cork city where he spent his childhood at Dillon’s Cross. Educated at St Patrick’s National School and North Monastery, Cork, he obtained first place in the Cork City University Scholarship competition in 1936 and entered UCC graduating BA (1939). He was awarded a first-class honours MA in Mathematical Science (1942) and also won an NUI Travelling Studentship in Mathematical Science. He was subsequently awarded a PhD (1945) from the Faculty of Science, University of London, for work at the Statistics Department of Rothamsted Experimental Station.[1]

Tadhg Ó Ciardha first taught at UCC as a demonstrator in Mathematics from 1939-42. On achieving his doctorate he was appointed lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Physics (1946-51) and was appointed the first Professor of Statistics in 1951 while simultaneously holding the part-time post of Registrar. The situation was reversed in 1974 when he vacated the chair to become Professor of Mathematical Statistics, a part-time post and took the full-time post of Registrar in January 1955. He subsequently was appointed by the Senate of the National University of Ireland as President of UCC on 13 July 1978 and on the same day, he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the NUI.

As President, he made effective provision for the expansion of demand for higher education in Cork. Work continued apace following the development plan produced in 1972. The Lee Maltings site had been acquired in 1969 with agreement between Ó Ciardha, then registrar, and a representative of the Beamish & Crawford brewery. This housed academic amenities (including a branch of the library) and indoor sports facilities as well as the Granary Theatre and the National Microelectronics Research Centre, approved by the Governing Body in 1979[2] (now the Tyndall Institute). Also coming into the College estate portfolio was the Munster Institute (for a nominal rent from Cork Corporation) in 1991. A major boost to the accompany the new Food Science and Technology building (opened June 1979) was the grant of $500,000 by the Kellogg Foundation in May 1979.[3] Sports at UCC were not forgotten either with the new outdoor sports facilities of seventeen acres opening in June 1979.[4]

A member of the Higher Education Authority and the Senate of National University of Ireland, his services to higher education in Ireland were recognised by the award of an honorary LLD by Queen’s University Belfast in 1983. In 1984 he was made a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

A keen sportsman, with a love of swimming, Sunday road-bowling and Gaelic football, Professor Ó Ciardha used his office to promote sport in all its forms, particularly inter-varsity championships. Ó Ciardha married Irene Hegarty BA of Skibbereen in 1949 at the Honan Chapel, UCC; they had six children. He retired as President of UCC in 1989 and lived locally until his death on 8 February 1995. An obituary by T. K. Whitaker appeared in the Sunday Independent. The late Mrs Irene Uí Chiardha provided a fund to University College Cork in memory of her husband to be known as the Tadhg Ó Ciardha Prize, which is awarded annually to the student who obtains the highest marks in Statistics at the BSc (Hons) Degree Examination.

The portrait of Dr Tadhg Ó Ciardha is on display in the Aula Maxima, UCC.[5]


Select publications

With Robinson, P., ‘The manuring of sugar cane’, Empire Journal of Experimental Agriculture 82 (1953), 99-115

‘Town and gown in closer liaison: future plans for UCC outlined’, UCC Record 54 (1979), 9-14



‘Cork wedding. Carey—Hegarty’, Cork Examiner 20 July 1949, 4

‘New outdoor sports facilities at Mardyke’, UCC Record 55 (1980), 10-13

‘Establishment of a microelectronics research centre’, UCC Record 55 (1980), 16-18

‘Death of man of the people’, Cork Examiner 9 February 1995, 30

‘Óráid ar bhronnadh chéim oinigh ar Sheosamh Ó Dálaigh’ [text of speech on occasion of conferring of hc LLD degree on Seosamh Ó Dálaigh in 1986], Béaloideas, 57 (1989), 164-166

Murphy, John A., The College: a history of Queen’s / University College, Cork (Cork: Cork University Press, 1995)

O’M., T., ‘Our new president’, UCC Record 54 (1979), 4-8

Parolini, Giuditta, ‘The emergence of modern statistics in agricultural science: analysis of variance, experimental design and the reshaping of research at Rothamsted Experimental Station, 1919-1933’, Journal of the History of Biology 48:2 (Summer 2015), 301-335

Whitaker, T. K., ‘Dr Tadhg Ó Ciardha’, Sunday Independent 19 February 1995, 20



[1] T. M. Carey, ‘Fertilizer requirements of sugar cane’ (PhD 1945), Rothamsted Experimental Station; available at Senate House Library, University of London.

[2] ‘Establishment of a microelectronics research centre’, UCC Record 55 (1980), 16-18.

[3] ‘$500,000 Kellogg Foundation Grant for Food Science at UCC’, UCC Record 25 (1980), 7-8.

[4] ‘New outdoor sports facilities at Mardyke’, UCC Record 55 (1980), 10-13.

[5] Fig. 13.1, Photograph of Tadhg Ó Ciardha, with his immediate successor, Michael P. Mortell, and his portrait, in Murphy (1995), 341.

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