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2014 Press Releases

UCC holds its first Governors’ Board meeting in Kerry

20 Feb 2014
Back row l-r Ms Kate O'Brien, UCC, Dr Frederic Adam, UCC, Professor John O'Halloran, UCC, Mr Michael deLaragy, UCC, Mr Garry Hurley,UCC, Dr Bertie Daly, Mr Eoin Dineen, Ms Linda O'Shea Farren, Dr Denis Kelliher, Ms Rose Walshe, UCC, Cllr Jim Houlihan, Cllr Mary Greene, Dr Dermot O'Mahony, Mr John Leonard Middle row l-r Professor Paul Giller, UCC, Dr Michael Murphy, President, UCC, Mr Justice Bryan Mc Mahon, Chairman of Board of Governors, UCC, Cllr Seamus Fitzgerald, Mayor of Kerry, Mr Tom Curran, Manager, Kerry County Council, Mr Michael Farrell, UCC, Cllr Mary Jackman Front row l-r Cllr Michael Fitzgerald, Cllr Michael Hegarty, Professor Louise Kenny, UCC, Dr Marian McCarthy, UCC, Professor Douwe Breimer, University of Leiden

The UCC Board of Governors held its first meeting in the chambers of Kerry County Council to mark the close ties between UCC and the Kingdom.

University College Cork was established in 1845 and is ranked in the top 2% of universities worldwide, based on the quality of its research output and peer esteem.   UCC is Ireland’s first Five Star University (QS Stars 2011) and has c 20,000 fulltime students and 3,000 staff. 

The University offers approx. 120 degree and professional programmes the Humanities, Business, Law, Architecture, Science, Food and Nutritional Sciences, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing and the Clinical Therapies.

UCC is an internationally-competitive, research-led university that plays a key role in the development of Ireland’s knowledge economy. In the recently published Sunday Times University League Table of Irish Universities, UCC topped the research category for the third year in a row.

The quality of the University’s research is key to its international reputation. The first professor of Mathematics was George Boole (1815-64) who was famous for his Boolean Algebra which is the basis of digital computing systems.  In the past five years the University earned over €401 million in research income. 

UCC researchers collaborate with close to 700 of the world’s top universities across 110 countries and 62% of Ireland’s most highly cited researchers are from the University.  UCC’s research income was €401 million over the past five year period.   

The University leads four and co-leads a fifth of seven centres created by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) in the largest joint state/industry research investment in Irish history worth €300 million announced last February. At the SFI Summit in Athlone last autumn UCC professor, Fergus Shanahan, was named this year’s SFI Researcher of the Year. Professor Shanahan is a leading international expert in gastrointestinal research and Director of the SFI funded Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in UCC.

At the international level, UCC was the most successful university in Ireland in gaining EU FTP7 research grants at 23.7%.  Income from new awards in 2013 from the EU was €13.1 million, a 170% increase since 2008/2009.   

UCC’s research has helped create new jobs with the establishment of 10 campus companies which currently employ 110 people.  The University has signed 73 licences (including options and assignments) in the last five years with both SMEs and Irish and Irish based multinationals.


The UCC links with Kerry include:

  • A UCC Education Centre for Medical Education at Kerry General Hospital and the development of a more cohesive regional learning cluster between 3rd level institutions are but two of the recent initiatives between UCC and Co  Kerry.  UCC is the academic partner/lead for the new Southern Hospital Group which strengthens existing links between the two institutions. The centre is located in the new extension of Kerry General Hospital and will be developed in the coming months with the anticipated opening this summer.


  • Students Kerry is only second to Cork in the number of students it sends to UCC.  The total number of Kerry students, including under and postgraduate and those in Adult Continuing Education is just under 1,500.


  • UCC students benefit from placements and internships with Kerry organisations while doing their studies.  Companies like the Kerry Group take students on placement while Social Work students do placements with the Child Family Protection Services (Tusla) in different parts of the county.


  • Alumni  UCC graduates find jobs in Kerry with over 70% of UCC alumni getting jobs in Munster.  Alumni get jobs in diverse areas spanning all the disciplines in the University but with many in the health and education sectors.  UCC alumni are found heading Kerry organisations including the county Manager, Tom Curran.  Other alumni in the business world include Denis Brosnan and Denis Cregan Kerry Group, Michael Fitzgerald of Altobridge and Gavin O’Neill of Fexco. 


  • In sport players such a Paul Galvin, Seamus Moynihan, Eoin Brosnan, Fergal Griffin, Wayne O’Sullivan, Donnchadh Walsh, Peter Crowley, Dr Brendan Lynch and Paudie Lynch are UCC alumni.  Other sporting personalities include the late Moss Keane, journalist Billy Keane and the legendary sports writer, the late Con Houlihan.


  • The county of Kerry also supplied two Presidents to the University.  Sir Rowland Blennerhassett in the late 19th century and Listowel man Dr Alfred O’Rahilly who was President from 1943 to 1954. Another North Kerry man who plays a major role in the life if the university is the current chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr Justice Bryan McMahon who is also Chairman of the Abbey Theatre.


  • The cultural links between Kerry and UCC are many.  The University provides outreach activities to the community of West Kerry and educational courses at the UCC facility in Dún Chíomháin, Ballyferriter, Co Kerry.  In fact many of the University’s staff, including Pádraig Tyers, Seán Ó’Coileán, Seán O’Tuama among others  have contributed to the richness of scholarship in the West Kerry region. Musician and broadcaster,  Philip King, who resides in West Kerry is also a UCC alumnus. On another language front UCC was the first Irish university to implement a structure for teaching Chinese in secondary schools which is now available in 33 secondary school across Cork, Kerry, Clare, Tipperary and Waterford. One of the UCC graduate appointments in Kerry last year was that of a Chinese Teacher in Listowel Secondary School!


  • UCC is the leading Irish university in knowledge transfer to SMEs under Enterprise Ireland’s innovation voucher scheme supporting SMEs in Kerry and 16 other counties in Munster, Leinster and Connacht which is more than the combined support of TCD and UCD in this sector.


  • Food and Nutritional Sciences School within UCC and the University has partnered with other academic institutions and food companies including Kerry Group PLC in the Food for Health Ireland Research consortium with the objective of developing new functional foods.  




Address by Emeritus Professor John A Murphy on the occasion of the first meeting of the Board of Governors of University College Cork in Co Kerry

 UCC: Kerry connections


In a post -luncheon talk to the joint meeting, Professor John A Murphy sketched the historical context under the heading ‘UCC: Kerry connections’.  Professor Murphy is Emeritus Professor of Irish History at UCC, and a former member of the Board of Governors.


He stated that UCC had always been the natural third-level mecca of Kerry students and even now, with the counter – attractions of the University of Limerick and other institutes, the annual undergraduate intake to UCC from Kerry was the largest, next to Cork.  The good relations with Kerry had not been marked by the kind of rival tensions prevailing between Cork and Limerick from the setting up of Queen’s Colleges in the early 1840s.  Indeed, in the early 1840s Kerry had supported Cork’s claim against Limerick as the most appropriate location for a Queen’s College in Munster.

Historically, Kerry has supplied two presidents for UCC (or its predecessor Queen’s College Cork).  Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, landed gentleman,  ‘Castle Catholic’ and government placeman, had an undistinguished tenure (1897-1904), to say the least.  Though he had interesting ideas on education, and an endearing conviction that the inhabitants of Cork and Kerry had an ‘extraordinary and quite exceptional intellectual ability’ (himself included!), he was in effect an absentee president.  The under-secretary at Dublin Castle sarcastically noted that Blennerhassett’s ‘attention should be drawn to the necessity of his residence in College during term’.


In sharp contrast, Listowel-born Alfred O’Rahilly was one of UCC’s outstanding leaders.  As registrar from 1926 to 1943, he effectively ran the place before becoming president from 1943 to 1954.  He played a prominent role in the revolutionary years (1916-1923) at national and local level.  Social crusader, labour arbitrator and controversialist, he had a vast range of scholarly interests.  He zealously promoted a Catholic ethos in UCC but also transformed and expanded the place, and made far-reaching improvements to the library and to the health and restaurant services.  His activities and behaviour sometimes provoked ridicule, not least among his socially-sophisticated Cork bourgeois colleagues who were snobbish about his unreconstructed Kerry hillybilly persona in speech and manners.  But UCC proudly and justifiably remembers him today, notably in the Library and in the all-purpose- humanities O’Rahilly building.   All this leads to the reflection that a great university president is essentially one who has a vision for his institution and takes practical steps to fulfil it, particularly in the interests of the undergraduates, the core of the university.

UCC Adult Education courses, another initiative of ORahilly’s,  have had an extensive network in his native Kerry since the 1950s, and Adult Continuing Education (ACE) maintains these strong links today.  The university outreach is part of UCC’s Munster remit and, fifty years ago, helped to fill the gap of poor educational opportunities, as well as being the catalyst for the emergence of leadership in local communities.

Other UCC links with Kerry include strong ties with the West Kerry Gaeltacht.  Scholars and writers like the  late Seán Ó Tuama and Pádraig Tyers strongly embodied those contacts, and Tyers’s last book Scéal trí Scéal was an affectionate paean to the people of the area.  UCC students benefit from Kerry Gaeltacht  scholarships, and Dún Cíobháin is a recreational and cultural haven for UCC staff and students alike.

Over the decades, UCC successes in the Gaelic football inter-varsity Sigerson championship owe a great deal to Kerry students who gained valuable experience in the university’s training fields.  One thinks of stars like Paudie Sheehy and Jim Brosnan in the 1950s and, before he moved on to rugby, the great Moss Keane in the early 1970s.  Of course, some Cork fans were none too pleased with the strong ‘kingdom’ element in UCC’s line-out in the Cork county championship, giving rise to the jibe of ‘University College Kerry’!

As we move towards ever strengthening UCC-Kerry links we may recall that whereas one famous Kerryman, Daniel O’Connell, tried to stop the Queen’s Colleges from coming into being (as allegedly ‘godless’ institutions), an illustrious fellow-countyman, Bryan McMahon, now presides over the meetings of UCC’s governing body.

And finally at this very moment, a young Kerry woman somewhere in the Kingdom, may be grooming herself for her historic role as the first female president of UCC, thus breaking the toughest glass ceiling of all- the male monopoly of leadership of Ireland’s academic institutions.



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