by Sarah Larkin, Archivist, St Patrick’s College Maynooth
This year St Patrick’s College, Maynooth celebrates 225 years since its foundation in 1795. A series of blog posts over the coming months will highlight some of the interesting and lesser known events and facts of the College’s history. This post focuses on some of the famous people who have visited the College over the years.
1796 Lord Lieutenant Camden lays the foundation stone of the new building on 20 April (Foundation Day). The trustees of the College, along with the Lord Lieutenant, dined in Dublin Castle that evening.
1842 Visit of English author William Thackeray. He recorded his visit to Maynooth in his Irish Sketch Book.
1847 Visit of Daniel O’Connell to the College on 12 January 1847. O’Connell’s health was already failing; he would make his last speech to the House of Commons on 8 February, and would die in Genoa on his way to Rome on 15 May.
1858 Visit of Cardinal Wiseman on 8 September during his tour of Ireland. He arrived in Maynooth by special train, where he was met by a large group of people from the town and College. He presided at pontifical High Mass for the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, and in the afternoon met with the students and staff.
1868 The Prince of Wales, Edward VII, becomes the first royal visitor to the College.
1877 William Gladstone visits the College.
1879 & 1880 Visits of Elisabeth, Empress of Austria. She rode into the College grounds while hunting, and became a friend of the then Vice-President, Dr William Walsh (later to be Archbishop of Dublin).
1903 Visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 24 July. They arrived in Maynooth by train and drove by carriage through the town, which had been decorated for their visit. About a hundred guests gathered at the College to receive them.
1911 Visit of King George V and Queen Mary on 9 July. They drove from Dublin Castle, and a ‘vast gathering’ of people greeted them in the College grounds.
1961 Visit of Cardinal Montini of Milan, later to become Pope Paul VI.
1963 Visit of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.
1979 Visit of Pope John Paul II as part of his Irish visit. He blessed the foundation stone for the Pope John Paul II Library, which opened on 7 October 1984 and memorialises this visit.
1986 Visit of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain.
1990 Mother Teresa gives the annual Trócaire lecture. She held a prayer service in the College chapel and met with staff and seminarians.