Church, State and the University
The mission and values of higher education institutions reflected the political, religious and cultural milieu of early and mid-twentieth century Ireland. Women’s participation in university education remained heavily restricted and prescribed by traditional gender roles. The dominant ideologies of early to mid-twentieth century Ireland—integralist Catholicism and cultural nationalism—defined the cultural context in which the universities operated: ostensibly non-denominational universities were positioned as channels for the achievement of religious objectives informed by Catholic social teaching, while the crusade for Gaelicisation shaped national policy and provoked conflict with academic elites. The pervasive reach of integralist Catholicism shaped the culture of the NUI and ecclesiastical power was a key factor in defining the parameters of policy and institutional decisions. University leaders and for that matter most academics accepted the underlying premises of a fundamentally conservative society.