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Founded in 1898, by Catholic Sisters of Mercy and the Bishop of Limerick, Edmund T O’Dwyer, Mary Immaculate College (MIC) is the oldest third level institution in Limerick. The College has expanded significantly since 75 young women were enrolled in 1901, not just in student numbers but in geographical footprint, academic provision and ambition.


Foundation & Enduring Vision

When the foundation stone for Mary Immaculate College was laid in 1899, the intention was to provide an institution dedicated to the professional training of female teachers for the Catholic national school system. Today, with close to 5,000 young men and women enrolled at the College and participating in a multitude of academic programmes, MIC continues the embrace the founding vision of Catherine McAuley, who established the Catholic Sisters of Mercy as champions for the most marginalised in society with the conviction that education was essential to the quality of life to which all individuals should be entitled. These enduring values remain enshrined in the College Mission Statement as Mary Immaculate steers a new course in the 21st century. 

Growth & Development

MIC is currently undergoing one of the most exciting phases of growth and development in the history of the College with the overall student population witnessing a more than tenfold increase since 1992. The B Ed (Primary Teaching) programme is now joined by other innovative education programmes like the B Ed in Education & Psychology and the BA in Early Childhood Care & Education. Other landmark programme developments include the augmented Bachelor of Arts programme, in collaboration with the University of Limerick (UL), that offers students a wider range of subject choices—making it the largest jointly delivered programme in Ireland. The recently launched innovative BA in Contemporary & Applied Theatre Studies programme continues to go from strength to strength as it prepares graduates to enter the cut-and-thrust of the arts world.

MIC has recently expanded its geographical footprint following the incorporation of St Patrick’s College in Thurles—another well-established college offering four degree programmes preparing students to become second-level teachers.

The College’s undergraduate programmes are widely recognised and celebrated, nationally and internationally, for their academic excellence—offering learners the critical, analytical and transferrable skills central to the success of the ever evolving economy. Alongside these programmes, MIC offers a range of postgraduate programmes at Diploma, MA and PhD level.

MIC also offers Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses and is committed to improving access to higher education for adults with a range of tailored programmes and supports that make the journey for adult learners as easy as possible.  More recently, a consortium led by MIC was awarded the contract from the Higher Education Authority for the delivery of the National Higher Education Programme for Inclusion Coordinators in Early Years Settings.  The delivery of this programme will see an extra 3,600 students added to the already expanding population at MIC.

The programmes on offer at MIC continue to be amongst the most highly sought-after in Ireland as the College has a long standing reputation for excellence in teaching, learning and research and is known for the high calibre of students it has attracted since its establishment well over a century ago. Student numbers are set to reach 5,000 by 2020.

This remarkable rate of expansion has brought with it significant growth and a broadening of MIC’s academic provision, as well as a redevelopment of the Limerick campus which now offers state-of-the-art teaching, learning and research facilities as well as excellent sports, events and conferencing facilities.  


Since its foundation, the College has grown consistently and diversified, with many significant milestones reached throughout the Twentieth Century. The advances of the last twenty years have been particularly remarkable, with a major expansion in academic offerings and a phase of intensive development of campus infrastructure accompanying a constant surge in student numbers from 297 in 1991-92 to close to 5,000 today.

The following developments have been especially significant for the College, many of them 'firsts' in the history of the Irish State:

1898: The College was established by Bishop Edward T O’Dwyer and the Sisters of Mercy for the professional education of Catholic primary school teachers.

1901: The first 75 students were enrolled

1906: The College Chapel was built

1948: The College celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

1956: The first major extension to the College was undertaken, with introduction of a new Residential Block that included 120 bedrooms, as well as a dining hall and music rooms.

1969: MIC became the first Irish College of Education to become co-educational.

1973: The College celebrated its 75th Anniversary.

1974: MIC was the first College of Education to become a recognised College of the National University of Ireland (NUI) and to offer a three-year Bachelor of Education Degree (B Ed).

1976: A new library building, Áras an Phiarsaigh, was added to the campus.

1980: 800 Students were registered on the B Ed degree programme, the largest numbers since the foundation of the College.

1991: MIC entered into a partnership with the University of Limerick which became its new accrediting body.

1992: MIC became the first Irish College of Education to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree programme (with the first such graduates receiving their awards in 1996).

1998: MIC, now a College of Education and the Liberal Arts, celebrated its Centenary Year as the first Irish College of Education to confer Higher Degrees, including an M Ed degree and MA in Education. A special stamp was issued by An Post to celebrate the centenary.

1999: MIC was the first College of Education to confer a specialist Masters in Early Childhood Education.

2000: MIC was the first College of Education to confer a specialist Masters in Information Technologies in Primary Education.

2002: The College conferred its first Doctoral award (in the discipline of Music), a first for a College of   Education.

2003: A four-year BA degree programme in Early Childhood Care and Education, the first for an Irish College of Education, commenced.

2004: A four-year B Ed degree programme in Education and Psychology commenced.

2005: The Mary Immaculate College Foundation was launched.

2007: Tailteann, a multi-purpose gymnasium and the first major new building on campus for almost thirty years, was opened, winning the award for ‘Best Leisure Building’ at the 2008 Royal Irish Architecture Awards.

2008: The inaugural McAuley Medal was presented to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Founder of the Special Olympics.

2010:  The McAuley Medal was presented to Imogen Stuart RHA, by President of Ireland, Mary McAleese.

2010: A new building, Teamhair / TARA (Teaching, Recreational, and Auditorium space), together with Tailteann,  were officially opened by An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD. This represented  a combined total of 11,700 m2 of new campus infrastructure and an investment of over €34m in the development and modernisation of facilities at the College, funded under the National Development Plan 2007-2013.

2012: Lime Tree Theatre, a 510-seat, state-of-the-art professional facility was officially opened in the TARA building—running a year-round programme of theatre, music, dance, comedy and various other cultural events as well as conferences and meetings.

2015: The new BA in Contemporary Arts & Theatre Studies was introduced.

2016: MIC incorporates existing education institution, St Patrick’s College in Thurles to become MIC, St Patrick’s Campus—bringing its offering of undergraduate programmes to nine.

The MIC Senior Hurling Team under manager Éamonn Cregan secured a historic victory over UL to win its first Fitzgibbon Cup—a remarkable achievement for an institution with a relatively small student body. Éamonn Cregan retired as MIC hurling manager after over 20 years.

Plans were unveiled for a new Library and Learning Resource Centre at MIC. Costed at close to €21 million, the 5,000 m2 building will be situated in the heart of the Limerick campus and will replace the existing library.

2017: After defeating IT Carlow in the final, the Fitzgibbon Cup was retained by the MIC Senior Hurling Team in 2017, this time led by new manager and MIC Graduate, Jamie Wall.

MIC held its largest ever Graduation with a record 1,909 graduates from across Ireland and the globe conferred with degrees and other awards over three days.

Mary Immaculate College, South Circular Road, Limerick, Tel:+35361 204300  V94VN26

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