Six projects selected to celebrate NUI Galway’s institutional history

Owen Ward, NUI Galway Traveller Education Officer, NUI Galway President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, and Imelda Byrne, Head of NUI Galway’s Access Centre. Credit – Mike Shaughnessy.
Jun 27 2022 Posted: 14:53 IST

NUI Galway has selected six projects by current and retired staff to showcase the breadth of the history of the institution. 

NUI Galway was established in 1845 as Queen’s College Galway, and following construction of the iconic Quadrangle building, the University opened its doors four years later to the first cohort of just 68 students.  

The six projects selected aim to draw on the history and heritage of the institution and to deepen its connection to the community and its focus on working for public good.

Following the announcement of the six projects NUI Galway President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “I am particularly pleased that these research projects are rooted in our university community in all of its diversity. They include research on the history of LGBTQ in our university, as well as that of the Irish Traveller community here. They draw on the collective memory of our retired staff, who hold so much institutional knowledge and social history of this place. 

“The projects include the beginning of Irish language scholarship in the university through the figure of Tomás Ó Máille, as well as the development of our Library and archives – both of which set this university apart. And they engage students in using the most up-to-date technologies to record our current shape and size for future scholars.”

The initiative to select six projects follows on from the celebration of the university’s 175th anniversary in 2020. 

They are: 

  • Culture and Citizenship: Tomás Ó Máille by Professor Lillis Ó Laoire and Dr Deirdre Ní Chonghaile

 This exhibition celebrates the life and work of Professor Tomás Ó Máille (1880-1938), Galway's first Professor of Irish from 1909 to 1938. A folklore collector, linguist, newspaper editor, one-time Irish Volunteer and founding member of An Taibhdhearc, he is best known for his books An Béal Beo and An tIomaire Rua. 

Ó Máille recorded hundreds of wax cylinders - recently digitized - of songs and stories from Irish speakers from every county west of the Shannon. 

A key figure in the emergence of the modern Irish state, culture and citizenship are the cornerstones of Ó Máille's legacy. 

The exhibition will run in the Hardiman Research Building from September 16 until December before touring.

  • Exploring LGBTQ+ Lives at NUI Galway by Dr Declan Coogan and NUI Galway LGBT+ Staff Network Committee

The key question this project will seek to answer is who/what were the people, places and events within or led by our university that influenced progress on human rights for LGBTQ+ people? 

The project will also ask about the issues that remain to be resolved and co-develop strategies the university and partners might adopt to promote future progress. 

  • MincéirsArchive – An Online Digital Archive of the Irish Travelling Community by Owen Ward, the Traveller History and Culture Sub-Working Group, Mincéirs Misl'd in Education Committee, Mincéirs Whiden Society, and Kieran Hoare, NUI Galway Library

This is a digital archive of a growing collection of all types, complemented by historical documents and scholarly texts. 

It will illustrate NUI Galway’s positive relationship with the Irish Traveller community, enhancing our university’s reputation as a champion for equality, inclusion and diversity. 

The collection will include items from numerous archives and the team are making a public call for donations of historical materials linked to Traveller culture.

  • History of the Library in 100 Objects by Marie Boran, Caitriona Cannon, Geraldine Curtin, Patricia Ffrench and Emma Goode, with assistance from Eimhin Joyce and NUI Galway Library

The Library opened in 1849, with the distinguished scholar and historian, James Hardiman, as the first librarian. 

One hundred objects will be chosen from collections - including books, manuscripts, archival collections, letters, photographs, newspaper issues, library furniture, stationery or artefacts - to tell its story.

  • A Virtual and Tactile Record of the NUI Galway Campus Today by Eileen Kennedy and MakerSpace student volunteers

Drone photography and photogrammetry will be used to generate a snapshot of the University campus as it stands, 177 years since its founding, and create a 3d virtual campus map.

  • A Visual History Archive for NUI Galway: The Retired Staff Collection by Professor Jane Conroy, Professor Gerard Jennings, and Dr Séamus Mac Mathúna on behalf of the Retired Staff Association/Agallamh na Seanórach

Drawing on private collections of photographs and film, this project will create a visual record of the University’s past. It will be the first university in Ireland to document and preserve its history and the history of its people and community in this way. 


Marketing and Communications Office


Featured Stories