Identity Statement for Alfred O’Rahilly

  • Reference code: IE UCDA P178
  • Title: Papers of Alfred O’Rahilly (1884–1969)
  • Dates: 1921–37 [–1963]
  • Level of description: Fonds
  • Extent: 1 box
  • Context
  • Content and Structure
  • Conditions of Access and Use
  • Allied Material

Biographical History

Born in Listowel, County Kerry and educated at Blackrock College, Dublin and University College Dublin where he took a first in Mathematical Physics and Experimental Physics from the Royal University in 1907, O’Rahilly entered Stonyhurst College, Lancashire the following year with the intention of becoming a Jesuit. He left in 1914 without taking orders and joined the staff of University College Cork as an assistant in mathematics. He was appointed to the chair of mathematical physics in 1917, a position he held until 1943. An outstanding college career included serving as Registrar, 1920–43, and President, 1943–54.

After his wife’s death, O’Rahilly retired to the grounds of his old school. He was ordained a priest in 1955 and monsignor in 1960. A polymath and controversialist, the highlights of a life littered with achievement included the establishment of Cork University Press, an adult education programme that extended university education in social and economic subjects to a much wider audience, and a prodigious output of publication. His contribution to public life outside academia included election as a pro-Treaty TD for Cork City; and membership of the Banking Commission, 1934–38, and of the Commission on Vocational Organisation, 1939–43. He died in Dublin in August 1969.

Archival History

The collection was originally housed in Blackrock College and subsequently given to Prof. Brian Farrell in early 1970. It was later transferred to UCD Archives.

Scope and Content

Papers relating to O’Rahilly’s membership of the Constitution Committee, appointed by the Provisional Government in January 1922 to frame the Irish Free State Constitution. Consists mainly of correspondence with Darrell Figgis, Chairman, R.J.P. Mortished, Secretary, and other members of the Committee including Senator James Douglas and James Murnaghan, concerning a divergence of view and the development of O’Rahilly’s own Draft C. Includes some material relating to the 1937 Constitution.

  • Access: Available by appointment to holders of a UCD Archives reader's ticket. Produced for consultation in original format. Original material will be retrieved at 11am and 2pm only. 
  • Language: English
  • Finding aid: Descriptive catalogue

Further collections of Alfred O'Rahilly papers can be found in the Boole Library, NUI Cork.

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