“We join all of you at this hallowed University, to which my Great Great Great Grandmother originally gave a Charter all those years ago”

-Prince Charles

A royal visit to campus was a highlight of an eventful year at NUI Galway

On 19 May 2015, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited NUI Galway on the start of their visit to Galway, Clare and Sligo.

The visitors were greeted by a display of Irish music and dance curated by Tourism Ireland in the Quadrangle, followed by an exhibition showcasing NUI Galway’s heritage and research. They also met with with students from Ireland and across the Commonwealth.

NUI Galway’s prestigious history, which spans 170 years since its foundation in 1845 as Queen’s College Galway, gave huge resonance to the occasion.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall

In the Aula Maxima, in front of an invited audience, Prince Charles spoke of his feelings about the visit.

“I must say it is a very great pleasure to be with you on this occasion, for both my wife and I. I am hugely grateful to the President, Dr Jim Browne, for his very generous and warm words”

President Browne added: “I often reflect on the significance of that historic decision in the 1840s to establish three Queen’s Colleges, in Galway, Cork and Belfast.

That decision at a time of real austerity was transformative for our country – and especially our region.

Our royal visitors have seen how 170 years later – our academics, our students and our researchers are making a real difference.”

There followed a special ceremony, during which Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, planted a sessile oak beside the Quadrangle. The sessile oak is the national tree of Ireland and Wales and is also known as the Cornish Oak.

Around the world, media outlets broadcast pictures and details of the event.

Royal Visit at NUI Galway with showcase of heritage and research

President Browne and his wife Maeve make official presentation to the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall

The historic Quadrangle at NUI Galway was the setting in May 2015 for this elaborate showcase of heritage, culture, research and education. NUI Galway’s President, Dr Jim Browne, welcomed Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall to the campus for the start of their visit to the west of Ireland.

The visitors were greeted by Irish music and dance in the ‘Quad’, followed by an ‘NUI Galway Expo’ and reception. The Expo provided the visitors with first-hand insights into the University’s heritage, the Irish language and Celtic studies, and the latest cutting-edge research. They also met with students from Ireland and across the Commonwealth.

HRH The Prince of Wales & The Duchess of Cornwall arriving at NUI Galway


Their Royal Highnesses were shown memorabilia from the founding times of the University. NUI Galway’s prestigious history spans back 170 years to its foundation in 1845. Known then as Queen’s College Galway, the University was one of three Queen’s Colleges, the others located in Cork and Belfast. Items on show included original architectural plans, pencil, ink and watercolour on canvas, of the Quadrangle, built in local limestone and modelled on Christ Church at the University of Oxford.

They were also shown the first roll-book, also known as ‘The Declaration Book’, dating from 1849, original leather binding with gilded inlay and insignia, contains the signed oath and declaration of the first Presidents, all academic staff and register all students who matriculated and enrolled as Queen’s College Galway from its first academic year of 1849-50. Initially, there were only 63 students enrolled at the College, which is now home to over 17,000 students.

Irish Language and Celtic Studies

A unique aspect of NUI Galway’s role as a university is its strategic commitment to the provision of university education through the medium of Irish and NUI Galway’s aim to serve the Gaeltacht and the Irish language community, and to create an exemplary bilingual campus.

From the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, Irish writers claimed the ‘Crown of Ireland’ was theirs to bestow on their preferred candidate as the rightful king of the three kingdoms. For Irish language writers of the late medieval period, cultural allegiance was more significant than religious or political affiliation as a marker of Irish identity.

Research Impact

Situated on the edge of Europe, NUI Galway is a dynamic location for research and innovation. The University’s approach is to be collaborative, creative, interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial. The University partners with almost 3,000 research institutes worldwide to create global networks of expertise.

The ‘Expo’ showcased research across five broad areas, including: Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy; Biomedical Science and Engineering; Environment, Marine and Energy; Humanities in Context, including Digital Humanities; and Informatics, Data Analytics, Physical and Computational Sciences.

Tree planting ceremony

NUI Galway is Ireland’s most biodiverse university, and over 100 specimen trees surround the historic Quadrangle, some‌as old as the building itself. As part of the special ceremony, Their Royal Highnesses planted a sessile oak beside the Quadrangle.

The sessile oak has particularly special meaning as it connects Ireland, Wales and Cornwall. It is the official National Tree of Ireland, where it is known as the Irish oak or Dair ghaelach (‘Gaelic oak’). Also, it is the national tree of Wales and is considered the national tree of Cornwall, as reflected by its other common names, the Welsh oak and the Cornish Oak.

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