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date: 15 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

John Henry Newman’s career in Ireland is overshadowed by the later publication of The Idea of a University (1873), one of the most enduringly influential works on the philosophy of higher education. Yet it is impossible to fully understand that book—or Newman’s career as an educator—without a close examination of his experience as rector of the Catholic University of Ireland between 1851 and 1858. In its service Newman wrote the lectures and occasional pieces that became the Idea, but also confronted the challenges of establishing and running a new university while navigating the unfamiliar political, ecclesiastical, and social terrain of Ireland. His administration and philosophy were both informed by his experience of Oxford, and Newman at times struggled to adapt to Irish realities. He found elements of the Irish Catholic hierarchy to be obstructive, and he failed to maintain a working relationship with his patron, Archbishop Paul Cullen of Dublin. Despite its initial promise and substantial financial resources, the Catholic University of Ireland quickly struggled and ultimately failed, an outcome Newman blamed on others. In reality the University’s fate was influenced by a number of causes, including Irish obstructionism, Newman’s own personality, and the refusal of the British government to grant it a charter to award degrees.

Keywords: Catholic University of Ireland, Idea of a University, philosophy of education, higher education, Ireland, Paul Cullen, University of Oxford, Robert Peel, Tractarian

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