On a limestone bluff overlooking the River Lee in Ireland is University College Cork (UCC). Its motto ‘Where Finbarr Taught, Let Munster Learn,’ refers to the 6th century Saint Finbarr, whose monastery and school once stood nearby.
Originally named Queen’s College, Cork, the university was established to provide access to higher education in the Irish province of Munster (Ireland's second city), and was named after Queen Victoria, along with two other Queen’s Colleges in Galway and Belfast.
UCC's first students arrived in 1849 and, from 1850, the institution formed part of the Queen's University of Ireland. In the 1880s it became part of the Royal University of Ireland, and by 1908 joined the federal National University of Ireland (NUI), where it was a founding member.
The landscaped gardens and surrounds of UCC are known as ‘the quad’ and superstition holds that students crossing the quad before graduation risk bad luck and failure in exams.
Alongside the quad, the university is centred around its Aula Maxima – the Great Hall, which acts as the ceremonial and symbolic heart of the university. The Hall's design, inspired by the great universities of the Middle Ages, was the work of renowned Irish architects Thomas Deane and Benjamin Woodward.
Since 1908, UCC has grown exponentially, offering a research-led curriculum across 120 degree programmes in Humanities, Business, Law, Architecture, Science, Medicine and more. With a student body of some 20,000, including 3,000 international students, UCC returned to being a university in its own right again in 1997, retaining its original name.
UCC’s alumni includes the prominent mathematician Professor George Boole, who most famously invented Boolean logic, as well as the feminist and politician, Mary MacSwiney.
Among UCC’s many historical collections and artefacts are the ancient Ogam stones, thought to be the earliest written source of the Irish language.