Royal College of Science for Ireland (Redirected from Royal College of Science, Dublin)

  (Redirected from RCScI)
Royal College of Science for Ireland
The Royal College of Science building from 1911 to 1926; now Government Buildings
Ireland (later Irish Free State)

The Royal College of Science for Ireland (RCScI[1]) was an institute for higher education in Dublin which existed from 1867 to 1926, specialising in physical sciences and applied science. It was originally based on St. Stephen's Green, moving in 1911 to a purpose-built "Royal College of Science" building on Merrion Street. In 1926 it was absorbed into University College Dublin (UCD) as the faculty of Science and Engineering.


The Museum of Economic Geology was founded by the Dublin Castle administration in 1845, with chemist Robert Kane as curator, and a focus on mining in Ireland similar to the Museum of Practical Geology in London.[2][3] In 1847, Kane was promoted to director, expanding its remit, and renaming it the Museum of Irish Industry (MII).[2] In 1853 a new Science and Art Department was created within the Whitehall administration, and in 1854 the MII placed under its remit.[4] A School of Science applied to Mining and the Arts was created, modelled on the Royal School of Mines in London, with four professorships shared jointly by the MII school and the Royal Dublin Society (RDS).[4] The MII and School shared premises at 51, St. Stephen's Green, acquired in 1846 and fitted out by 1852.[2] In 1864, a select committee of the UK parliament recommended that the MII and School be entirely separated from the RDS and broadened into a government-supported College of Science for Ireland.[5] In 1865, HM Treasury agreed and in 1867 a commission was appointed by the education committee of the Privy Council. The commission, headed by William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, outlined the scope and functions of the proposed college, and the RCScI mission statement on 11 September 1867 was:[6]

The object of the Royal College of Science is to supply as far as practicable a Complete Course of instruction in Science applicable to the Industrial Arts, especially those which may be classed broadly under the heads of Mining, Agriculture, Engineering, and Manufactures, and to aid in the instruction of Teachers for the local Schools of Science

George Sigerson complained in 1868 that the RCScI was less open to Catholics than the MII had been.[7]

Later development

The RCScI's remit was later changed to exclude include agriculture and include "Physics and Natural Science".[6] The number of students enrolled increased gradually.[8]

Students enrolled in RCScI day courses[8]
Year ending 1869 1879 1889 1899 1909 1919
Number enrolled 32 60 103 97 117 258

By 1898 the RCScI had chairs of Mining and Mineralogy, Physics, Chemistry, Zoology, Botany, Geology, Applied Mathematics and Mechanism, Descriptive Geometry and Engineering.[6] In 1900, control was transferred from the Science and Art Department in London to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in Dublin, headed by Horace Plunkett.[1] A new building was proposed in 1897 and a site from Merrion Street to Kildare Street was chosen in 1898; in 1899 the plan was extended to include government administrative offices as well as the new college.[9] The new building was designed by Sir Aston Webb; the foundation stone was laid in 1904 by Edward VII and it was opened in 1911 by George V.[9]

In 1926 the RCScI was absorbed into UCD where it became the UCD Science and Engineering faculties. Science moved to UCD's Earlsfort Terrace building, and on to Belfield in the 1960s; Engineering moved from Merrion Street to Belfield in 1989. The RCScI building was then absorbed into Government Buildings with the rest of Aston Webb's complex, lavishly renovated by Charles Haughey and used to house the Department of the Taoiseach.[10]



  • Select Committee on Scientific Institutions (Dublin) (15 July 1864). Report. Sessional papers. Vol.13 No.495. HMSO. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  • Commission on the College of Science, Dublin (9 April 1867). Report. Sessional papers. Vol.55 No.219. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  • McCorristine, Shane (9 November 2009). "Science and Nation: The Promotion of Science Education in Post-Famine Ireland". Dublin Review of Books. 12. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  • McCorristine, Shane (2010). "IVRLA Research Report: Reconstructing Irish Science; The Library of the Royal College of Science (1867-1926)". Research_Online. UCD. pp. 1–16.


  1. ^ a b "The Royal College of Science for Ireland". Merrion Street. UCD. 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Select Committee (1864) p.ix
  3. ^ "The Museum of Irish Industry". Permanent Exhibitions > Out of Storage. National Museum of Ireland. Archived from the original on 16 February 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  4. ^ a b Select Committee (1864) p.xiv
  5. ^ Select Committee (1864) p.xxiii §§5–8
  6. ^ a b c "Royal College of Science in Ireland". Archives. UCD. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  7. ^ "The Royal College of Science for Ireland". Modern Ireland: Its Vital Questions, Secret Societies, and Government. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer. 1868. pp. 197–207.
  8. ^ a b "RCSI numbers of attendance". UCD Digital Library. UCD. 1 December 2009. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b "The New Building". Merrion Street. UCD. 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  10. ^ "History of Government Buildings: 1904-1922 and 1990". Department of the Taoiseach. Retrieved 17 February 2015.

Further reading

  • The College of Science for Ireland: Its Origin and Development, with Notes on Similar Institutions in Other Countries, and a Bibliography of the Work Published by the Staff and Students (1900–1923). Dublin: The University Press for the College of Science Association. 1923.
  • Kelham, Brian B. (Autumn 1967). "The Royal College of Science for Ireland (1867-1926)". Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review. Irish Province of the Society of Jesus. 56 (223): 297–309. JSTOR 30087833.
  • Jarrell, Richard A. (November 1983). "The Department of Science and Art and Control of Irish Science, 1853-1905". Irish Historical Studies. 23 (92): 330–347. doi:10.1017/S002112140001779X. JSTOR 30008384.

External links

Coordinates: 53°20′21″N 6°15′15″W / 53.339282°N 6.254187°W / 53.339282; -6.254187

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