chapter  4
26 Pages

THE TEACHING OF ECONOMICS AT THE QUEEN’S COLLEGES IN IRELAND (BELFAST, CORK, GALWAY), 1845–1900

ByThomas A. Boylan, Timothy P. Foley

After the establishment of the Whately Chair in 1832 at Trinity College, Dublin, the most important contribution to the teaching of political economy in Ireland was the foundation of the Queen’s Colleges in 1845. Each of the three colleges at Belfast, Cork, and Galway, had, from the outset, a Chair of Jurisprudence and Political Economy. The founding of the colleges was followed five years later by the establishment of their degree-granting institution, the Queen’s University. The decision to establish the Queen’s Colleges at this time was not an isolated event. It was, in fact, an integral part of a new policy of conciliation, implemented by Peel in 1843, to counteract Daniel O’Connell’s campaign for repeal of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland. The problem which Peel sought to solve by the establishment of the Queen’s Colleges-the inadequate provision of higher education in Ireland-had a long history, and involved not only questions of education, but also of religion, politics, and economics. It was a source of profound periodic conflict in Irish public debate and in Anglo-Irish relations throughout the nineteenth century. To understand the particular circumstances surrounding the establishment of the Queen’s Colleges and their subsequent development requires an examination, albeit brief, of the troubled and protracted history of university education in Ireland. Part I, therefore, provides an outline of the Irish university question as historical background to the founding of the Queen’s Colleges, the actual establishment of which is described in part II. Part III examines the structure and evolution of the teaching of political economy within the Queen’s Colleges from 1849, their first year of operation, to the 1890s. Part IV contains a brief biographical profile of the holders of the Chairs of Political Economy in each of the three colleges.