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The Royal University of Ireland was founded in accordance with the University Education (Ireland) Act 1879 as an examining and degree-awarding university based on the model of the University of London. A Royal Charter was issued on April 27, 1880 and examinations were opened to candidates irrespective of attendance at college lectures. The first chancellor was the Irish chemist Robert Kane.

The university became the first university in Irelandmarker that could grant degrees to women on a par with those granted to men; it granted its first degree to a woman on October 22, 1882. In 1888 Letitia Alice Walkington had the distinction of becoming the first woman in Great Britain or Ireland to receive a degree of Bachelor of Laws. Among the honorary degree graduates of the university was Douglas Hyde, founder of the Gaelic League and later President of Ireland, who was awarded a DLitt in 1906.


The Royal University of Ireland was the successor to the Queen's University of Ireland, dissolved in 1882, and the graduates, professors, students and colleges of that predecessor were transferred to the new university. In addition to the Queen's Colleges, Magee College, University College, Dublinmarker, St. Patrick's College, Maynoothmarker and Blackrock Collegemarker presented students for examinations as well, and no special status was accorded to the colleges of the former Queen's University. Like the Queen's University, the Royal University was entitled to grant any degree, similar to that of any other university in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Irelandmarker, except in theology.

The professorships and Senate of the Royal University were shared equally between the two main denominations; Catholic and Protestant. However, colleges of the university maintained full independence except in the awarding of degrees, and the compilation and enforcement of academic regulations and standards.

The members of the senate of the Royal University included Gerald Molloy, William Joseph Walsh, John Healy, the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, George Arthur Hastings Forbes, 7th Earl of Granard, Daniel Mannix, George Johnston Allman.

Chancellors of the Royal University of Ireland

Graduates of the Royal University of Ireland

Fellows of the Royal University of Ireland


On October 31, 1909 the Royal University was dissolved; the National University of Ireland and Queen's University of Belfastmarker took over its functions under the Irish Universities Act 1908, which provided for the transfer of graduates, staff and students to one or the other of these new universities.

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