Though from 1793 catholics could take degrees at Trinity College, Dublin, few did so, and in 1844 Peel proposed the establishment of undenominational colleges at Cork, Belfast, and Galway. The Irish catholic community split in response, the majority condemning them as godless, and the Synod of Thurles in 1850 warned catholics not to attend. Archbishop Cullen then presided over a committee to set up a catholic university. It opened in 1854 with 20 students but could make little progress without government assistance. Augustine Birrell, chief secretary in the Liberal administration of 1906, introduced the major reconstruction of 1908, which established the National University, with component colleges at Dublin, Cork, and Galway. Though formally undenominational, it was under catholic control.
Subjects: British History — European History.