The National University of Ireland, Maynooth has its origins in the Royal College of St Patrick, which was founded in 1795 to educate priests. However, the institution was only formally established as an autonomous university in 1997, as a result of the Universities Act, making it both one of Ireland’s oldest and youngest higher education institutions. In 1896, NUI Maynooth became a Pontifical University before becoming a Recognised College of the National University of Ireland in 1910.
Alumni of NUI Maynooth include the playwright and author Brian Friel, broadcaster Craig Doyle, Nobel laureate John Hume, former Irish minister for social and family affairs Mary Hanafin, and 1996 Eurovision Song Contest winner Eimear Quinn.
The university has the highest proportion of mature students (16 per cent) and access students (22 per cent) of any university in Ireland.