A Brief History

Although building began in 1782, for legal reasons, Carlow College did not open its doors to students until 1793; five years before the insurrection of 1798. From the beginning the College was both a lay college and a seminary for the education of clergy. The Humanities were at the core of the academic curriculum.

In 1841, Carlow College was accredited by the University of London and over the next three decades students of the College sat examinations for primary degrees in Arts and Law from the London body. In 1892 the College exclusively became a seminary. One hundred years later, in 1990, it reclaimed its original role and once again welcomed lay students from all over the country.

In the past decade Carlow College has established itself as a provider of courses in Humanities and Social Care with the particular remit of serving the South Leinster and South-East Midlands region. It has built strong links with the local community, with schools, local authorities, health service providers and cultural organisations.

Since 1997 the College has embarked on a building and renovation programme which has seen the development of new lecture halls, a new library and archive and a student resource centre.

As part of its development strategy the College donated a valuable site on its campus to Carlow Local Authorities for the development of a 20 million Euro Arts Centre and Theatre. This magnificent facility opened in September 2009 and will further establish Carlow’s claim to be the Humanities hub for this region. The VISUAL incorporates the largest exhibition space in the country and the theatre seats three hundred and fifty patrons.


About the College

Carlow College is situated in its own grounds on an eighteenth-century parkland and is known locally as St. Patrick’s College. As such, Carlow College is ideally located in the heart of Carlow town. With Tullow Street only one hundred meters away our students have access to banks, shops, food outlets and a wide variety of social venues on the doorstep. Pedestrian access from the town centre is on College Street and is flanked by the Cathedral to the South and by the magnificent VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art to the North.


The former entrance on College Street is now a pedestrian entrance and the railings which replace the high walls show off the College, its parkland and the Arts Centre, as an attractive feature of the town. The College is within walking distance of the facilities students need and the new entrance on the Dublin Road, with its spacious car park, facilitates vehicular access for the many students who commute to the College from the surrounding counties.


Carlow College is proud of its long history and it maintains its strong tradition as a student friendly campus where students and lecturers work together to create the optimum atmosphere for student and personal development.


Over the years Carlow has educated generations of politicians, priests, writers and public officials who were leaders in the society of their time. Today's students find employment in education, community work, the civil service, media and the social care field. A high percentage of our students proceed to postgraduate studies in the fields of Philosophy, English, History, Theology and Social Studies.


The College has partnerships with Carlow University, PittsburghSt. Ambrose UniversityDavenportIowathe Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs (ICISP) and with Trinity College Dublin.


Carlow College is a venerable institution with a progressive outlook. Most importantly, Carlow College is a vibrant place where students thrive.