Century of Endeavour

The TCD Board in the 50s

(c) Roy Johnston 1999

(comments to rjtechne@iol.ie)

It is again appropriate to commence the 50s with McDowell's evaluation: '...a dangerous atmosphere of frustration and...personal hostility such as the College had not known for the past 40 years...a general meeting of academic staff to discuss constitutional reform...on March 1 1951...'. There was a problem however in that the non-Fellow Professors would not agree simply to increase Junior Fellow representation. The Board then voted themselves a 10% increase in salary, and this increased the tension. It was noted that not one of the current Senior Fellow Board members, apart from Alton the Provost, had ever been elected as a Junior Fellows representative.

McDowell goes on to claim that their average age was 73 and the youngest was 67; this latter figure however is incorrect, as JJ at that time was 61, still the 'enfant terrible' who gave so much attention to extra-curricular activity; he was a reluctant gerontocrat, and had been in the reform camp for decades, though perhaps too early there.


On June 28 a meeting of academic staff called for 'a more representative Board, consisting mainly of elected members', the motion being signed by 19 Junior Fellows out of 21, 24 Professors out of 28 and 19 lecturers. The meeting was well attended. This was discussed inconclusively at the Board meeting on October 6. Then the enquiry came down: what was the basis of the discontent? A document was drawn up, dated October 24, seven pages, summarising the issues which had been simmering over the past decade or so. AA Luce replied to it, suggesting that the existing co-option process was democratic, in that co-option took place only if the next-in-line was considered 'worthy'. The Royal Commission proposals were dismissed, on the grounds that they were linked to a no-longer-existing grant of £45K per annum. The gulf of incomprehension was explicit and unbridgeable.

The Board then called a truce; a statement of financial needs was prepared for submission to de Valera's government, recently returned to office. They agreed to meet a deputation on January 9 1952, but this was postponed; Sir Robert Tate died, and Parke was co-opted, making a significant shift in the balance of power. Then Provost Alton died on February 18, focusing the power-struggle on the question of succession.

Luce had acted decisively during an earlier Alton illness, but was in bad odour now due to the way he had handled the current submissions. KC Bailey the Registrar had earlier been considered a good successor, but doubts emerged. Joe Bigger, the Bacteriology Professor, would have been a strong candidate, but had gone down with leukaemia.

There was therefore an open field, with McConnell emerging as the favourite. Luce, Stanford and Moody were the conservative alternatives. At the election on March 11 3 names were sent to the Government in order of preference: McConnell, Parke and Fearon; de Valera knew and liked McConnell and was happy to confirm him. The old guard were routed, and JJ, now identified with the gerontocracy, was heard to mutter to Godfrey 'now we're for it', or so McDowell records, and I have no reason to disbelieve him, though he got JJ's age wrong.

The details of the early voting are given by McDowell; various stratagems were adopted, but the net effect was all the key posts were allocated, by the Provost's casting vote, to energetic and suitable Junior Fellows, and from then on the Senior Fellows continued on as a harmless source of experience, but no longer called the shots. JJ lost his post as Auditor to Thrift, and from then on ceased to play much role in College politics, devoting his time to research, teaching and pamphleteering, as described elsewhere. He did however have a 'last fling' in College politics in the context of the School of Agriculture and the Kells Ingram Farm, as can be seen from the record of the Board minutes which follow.


The decade opens on January 7 1951, with a note of a Junior Fellows resolution regarding the tutorial system; basically, they need secretarial assistance.

Routine business then until May 5 when there is a reference to an Honours Degree in Agriculture, for which the final year is done in the Albert College.

On May 13 DA Webb is nominated as the Junior Fellows representative.

On July 4 the present writer RJ is nominated for the French Government Bourse; the consequences of this can be followed in the academic stream, where my research experience is outlined.

On October 1 it is decided that Magee students can get Honours privileges, suggesting that there is still life in the Magee connection, despite the hostility of Stormont, or is this perhaps a last-ditch defence?

Then on October 6 comes the Resolution from the Junior Fellows, Professors and Lecturers, referred to as above by McDowell. Discussion is deferred.

On October 17 Brian Inglis is accepted as a deputy for JJ for one year, to give 2 lectures per week on Economic Organisation. This I suspect is because the Board recognises JJ's role as a Senator, and as defender of the College role in relation to the Agricultural Institute.

The towards the end of 1951, there is a flurry of Agricultural Institute related activity: on November 7 JJ is appointed to interview for a Chair in the Veterinary College (this interfaces with the Civil Service Commission), and on December 5 it emerges that the Minister for Agriculture is to nominate someone to go to the US to negotiate about the Marshall Plan money, and the sub-committee of JJ, Purser and the Provost mentioned earlier is to be re-activated; on December 11 they agree to meet with the Government deputation.


Then on February 19 1952 Provost Alton dies, and on March 18 AJ McConnell becomes Provost. McConnell not being Church of Ireland, the Chair of the divinity School falls to the Vice-Provost. Duncan is appointed Registrar. On May 24 McConnell makes an attempt to get the College Constitution revised; a motion to force retirement at 72 is lost, and a motion to increase the Junior Fellows representation is lost. A motion to abolish the fine for non-attendance however is carried. This will have the effect of undermining the influence of the gerontocracy. JJ is on record as having voted against all three. Under the new regime however JJ does not get any of the key influential administrative posts, and is politically in the cold. Despite this, he gets to become the keeper of the Board minutes, which role continues for the best part of the 50s decade.

On June 6 it is decided that the informal Appointments Association, whose job it is to help graduates get jobs, becomes the Appointments Office, part of the Establishment, a significant modernising step.

On June 28 there is an echo from the student Left: it is laid down that in the Fabian Society non-College members of the Society must not have voting rights. This was a consequence of the fact that the existence of the Fabian Society had attracted people from outside College who needed a forum for the exchange of radical ideas. The rule of Archbishop McQuaid in Dublin at the time was such that it was impossible to get as hotel room for a left-wing meeting.

Also on the same date it is noted that five professors in the Veterinary College are to be recognised as College teaching staff. This is an echo of the ongoing struggle between TCD and UCD for control of the Veterinary College, in the context of the emerging new State-supported agricultural research regime.

On July 4 the present writer's French Government Bourse is renewed. This apparently was not simply between me and the French, it required the blessing of the College. It is far from obvious by what channel they knew I was not wasting my time. In such a discussion it would have been customary for JJ to withdraw.

Then on October 8 1952 it was agreed that the Provost and Luce were to handle the Berkeley Bicentenary invitations; there is no mention of JJ in this context. Luce, though a gerontocrat, is of course a front-runner in the field, from the philosophy angle. JJ's role is perceived as being more marginal.

The question of JJ's lecture load continues on the agenda; he is to still have six per week, to be reviewed soon. The following week, October 15, they increase JJ's salary to £1600, and Brian Inglis is renewed as his deputy, with his pay however to be deducted from JJ's salary (this was decided the following week).

This rebuff probably was the trigger for his decision again to leave Dublin (he was then living in Mount Merrion) and seek a farm where he could try things out, and do his TCD work by looking in occasionally. He went to Grattan Lodge, in Laois, where he again attempted to get his model for combining small-scale farming with market-gardening to work. He subsequently reported on this in a contribution to a Statistical and Social Inquiry Society symposium.

On November 26 1952 it was agreed not to compel any Senior Fellow to retire. From now on for some years (up to then end of 1955, and occasionally thereafter) JJ's role on the Board seems to have been mainly to write the minutes, though as we shall see later he did have an influence in the battle to retain a School of Agriculture, and to support its work with the Kells Ingram Farm near Drogheda. This issue kept his interest in the Board alive.


On February 18 the Provost agreed to invite the British Association for the Advancement of Science to hold its 1957 meeting in Dublin. (It is not clear whether this is a TCD initiative or a joint Dublin Universities action. I suspect the former, as I have not found any reference to the episode in Donal McCartney's 'UCD a National Idea' (Gill & MacMillan 1999). But I do recollect the UCD science faculty people participating with enthusiasm.)

The revised Fabian Society Constitution was approved.

Then on February 24, after receiving a letter from the Department of Agriculture, they agreed in principle to support an Agricultural Institute. JJ, despite his marginalisation, still had some clout in this domain, and on April 29 the Board appointed him to attend as an observer an meeting of the International Seed Testing Association, to be held in Dublin on Mat 26-30. Then on May 6 he is called on, along with Duncan and Lyons, to vet some economics lecturer applications. But then on June 17, when the annual offices are allocated, JJ is left out in the cold. The thankless task of writing the Board minutes continues to be his. Frank Mitchell gets to be Registrar. Also at this meeting the Magee College proposals are accepted; this tenuous link with the North continues, despite the obstacles placed by Stormont.

The following week, June 24 1953, JJ and Luce, the two excluded seniors, protested that full-time Professors should not be encumbered with 'annual office' tasks; they should presumably get on with their professing. Luce nominated himself for Registrar, but Mitchell is confirmed in the job, by 10 votes to 2, the 2 presumably being Luce and LL. This was a last-ditch stand of the old guard, with which by now JJ was identified, the new wave having broken over him.

The next week, July 1, Luce absented himself. JJ continues to attend, and write the minutes. The routine matters continue, until on November 25 the question of the Agriculture and Forestry course comes up: there is a fees deal done with UCD, with TCD recognising UCD fees paid. This was a further step in the evolving agricultural role of TCD, in which JJ had a continuing interest.


On January 20 the case came up of the re-admission of one Paul O'Higgins to the Medical School; he was not re-admitted, with Luce and JJ dissenting. This objection on the part of JJ would almost certainly have been because he had encountered PO'H in the company of RJ, in the context of the activities of the student Left; he probably suspected political persecution, and had persuaded Luce to join him in principled objection. This actually was a long way from reality: PO'H had in fact neglected his medical studies chronically, and had concentrated on left-wing politicking to a disastrous extent; he was in any case ill-suited to the medical profession, and had shown clinical signs of stress. In the end it was for his own good; he switched to the Law school, broke with political activism, and did brilliantly, going on to become a Professor in Cambridge.

The Board on the whole looked favourably on student contributions to civil society; on February 17 they gave a grant to enable student participation in the planning of Tostal activities: this was an attempt to develop a national cultural festival, to counter the then economic gloom.

On April 21 JJ for once did not do the minutes; the Board had extended to the Saturday, and JJ was by now living in Laois. On May 5 however he is back doing the minutes, and still apparently regarded as relevant when it came to matters agricultural: JJ and Mitchell (Registrar and counting as a heavyweight) being delegated on May 26 to meet with the Minister for Agriculture to discuss the future of the Veterinary College. There are 8 TCD veterinary students annually, but there are fee anomalies; to equalise requires a departmental grant. The Vet College is a shared TCD/UCD facility, a situation giving rise to all sorts of problems; I remember discussing the question at the time with Justin Keating, who was on the staff, and was convinced there were behind-the-scenes conspiracies, involving 'Knights and Masons'.

(At this point it is relevant to remark that there is need for research and publication of the background story of how the Government and the Universities interacted around the problem of funding agricultural research, a process which led in the end to the foundation of An Foras Taluntais (the Agricultural Institute) as a State applied-research institute without initially any University linkages. Was this the State's way of saying 'a plague on both your houses' to the Dublin Colleges, which were effectively partitioned on the basis of religion? There undoubtedly is a story her to be unearthed by someone with the energy to dig.)

In June the annual appointments come up. After some political manoeuvring, with JJ initially nominating himself for Senior Dean, against the Provost's nomination of Godfrey, in the end JJ backs off from Senior Dean and gets to be Senior Proctor, a post which has to do with the formal awarding of degrees to those entitled to them, a somewhat nominal role. The fact that the award of RJ's PhD was coming up soon may have figured in JJ's motivation.

On October 27 a motion from the Junior Fellows viewing with abhorrence the invitation of Sir Oswald Mosley to a College society is considered and supported. At the same meeting it is decided to set up a School of Veterinary Science; this must have been a further step in the Agricultural Institute background saga. Then on November 10 the Veterinary College staff are recognised, and a School Committee is set up, with JJ involved.

Also at this meeting we see, for the first time, the 'approval of the Proctor's Lists' minuted; this must have been a consequence of JJ being Senior Proctor (a job hitherto regarded as nominal) and also keeping the Board minutes: he wanted to assert the legal standing of the role, as something other than nominal. In fact later on we see recorded amendments to the lists, suggesting that JJ had successfully re-asserted a positive role for the Board in the awarding of degrees. Then on December 1 we see recorded the award of the degree of PhD to Conor Cruise O'Brien.


Business continues as usual until June 22, when a proposal to increase the Senior Proctor's stipend to its former level is defeated. The annual offices are again awarded, JJ is still Senior Proctor. On June 29 it is agreed that ETS Walton should go to Geneva to the 'Atoms for Peace' conference. RJ, then working with Cormac O Ceallaigh (COC) in the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), had some input to the conference via COC. The Irish scientific community was much better in touch with what was going on in the international scientific scene that any Government agency at the time. O Ceallaigh subsequently reported to the Government on the implications of the US offer of a 'research reactor' in this context. He said, basically, 'turn it down', on the grounds that the maintenance of this one tool would cost more that the Government was then spending on all of science. I develop aspect this elsewhere.

Then on October 12 the present writer RJ's PhD is agreed, and the conferring goes ahead with JJ in his Proctorial role, which pleased him. It is worth mentioning here that the reports on my thesis were from GD Rochester of Durham and COC which would suggest that for this purpose COC was regarded as the internal examiner, although I understood when registering that the nominal internal supervisor was Jackie Poole in the TCD Physics Department, a respected geophysicist in the Joly tradition, who however knew little about the high-energy charged particle or cosmic ray domains. There was inter-university politics in this: TCD wanted to build bridges towards the DIAS, while UCD, where Nevin was in charge of the Physics Department, was dynamiting bridges build by COC in their direction, through people like Denis Keefe, Frank Anderson and Ann Kernan. I treat this elsewhere in more depth. The effect of this was the loss of Keefe and Kernan to the US, while Anderson in the end migrated towards the emerging domain of computer science.

(The foregoing is just one small window into the saga of the intellectual partition of Dublin, reflecting the political partition of Ireland. It illustrates the nature of the hostile soil into which de Valera's DIAS, an enlightened concept, was planted. It was more or less rejected as an alien implant, where it could have, if the environment had not been bedevilled by partitionist thinking, evolved into a thriving world-class graduate school fed by, and interacting creatively with, both colleges.)

Then towards the end of 1955 comes TCD's attempt to get its foot in the door of the Agricultural Institute process. On November 2 they issued a press statement on Agricultural Education, which they were currently discussing with the Minister, the TCD spokesmen being JJ and Mitchell. The statement pointed out the TCD track-record: they had been active since 1906; it was part of the science faculty; they did their practicals at a farm near Kells up to 1912 and then at the Albert College in Glasnevin, which was then under the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction (DATI), and also serviced UCD.

Then in 1924 the Dail handed over the Albert College to UCD, along with the College of Science, without consultation with TCD. The TCD Board at the time then made ad hoc arrangements with Coffey the UCD President. In 1953 the Minister for Agriculture invited TCD to take part in the proposed arrangements for the projected Agricultural Institute; the idea was to bring together the two Universities and the professional organisations. There was in prospect either a central agricultural faculty, or else upgraded faculties in both Universities. The statement was signed by GF Mitchell, Registrar.

At this same meeting on November 2 there was a further link made with the DIAS: John Dardis was awarded his PhD, with Poole as supervisor and again Rochester as external examiner, substantially my own situation, except that in my case Poole had been overlaid somehow by O Ceallaigh. The TCD Board was prepared to be flexible in its arrangements for PhDs issued via DIAS. Dardis has worked with McCusker on the dependence of high-energy cosmic-ray bursts on sidereal time. McCusker subsequently went to Australia to continue this work with Messel, who had originated it earlier when in DIAS with Janossy. I discuss this elsewhere. We are in the presence of the intellectual diaspora, or 'brain-drain', which characterised the 50s, and which the present writer was acutely aware of at the time, and determined politically to try to reverse. Dardis also emigrated, I believe to Canada.


We are now beginning Vol 28 of the Board minutes; JJ at the start is still Senior Proctor, and he continued to write the minutes up to July 2 1958.

On January 11 there was a response from the Visitors to Hartford the Archbishop King's Professor of Divinity, who had complained about his salary. There was a long negative response signed by Iveagh and Kingsmill Moore. I mention this because the role of TCD in relation to the Divinity School was, and perhaps remains, one of the issues isolating TCD from the national mainstream. It is now (2000) water under the bridge, with the decoupling of the School from the Church of Ireland, and the presence of a Roman Catholic Provost (Mitchell). But in the 50s it remained an issue, and in a perverse way it helped to give TCD an all-Ireland status, reflecting the all-Ireland structure of the Church of Ireland. The connection with Magee College in Derry fulfilled a similar role; this took care of the Presbyterian interest.

At the same meeting (11/01/56) John Garmany of Magee was invited to join the School Committee of Economics and Political Science, emphasising the fact that the Magee connection was not only about Presbyterian theology. We encounter JG in the context of JJ's SSISI network (and the extension of the Barrington Lectures northwards), and also on JJ's Irish Association network, where he occurs at the seminal Derry Whit weekend meeting in 1965, at which the seed-bed for the Civil Rights movement in the North was prepared.

Then on January 18 Mairtin O Cadhain is recruited as a Grade 2 lecturer in Modern Irish, just about a decade after his release from the Curragh. He subsequently occupied the Chair. This was an enlightened move on the part of Trinity, emphasising the continuing aspiration to become part of the cultural mainstream without yielding to Catholic cultural hegemonism.

Then on March 14 it is proposed to develop a School of Agriculture in association with the projected Agricultural Institute, and a printed memorandum is projected. The memo is critical of the Government proposals, which are described as vague. If the entity is centralised, TCD wants unrestricted access. If decentralised, TCD wants full faculty status. The memo suggests four university-based faculties, each tackling different research problems. TCD was making a bid for soil science, with emphasis on upland soils. A location for a farm in south Co Dublin was sought, with access to upland. The farm was to be run on commercial lines. The other locations were to be related to UCD, UCC and UCG. The memo was presented to the Minister at the end of May by the Provost and Registrar.

According to the 1956-57 Calendar, JJ was on the Agriculture School Committee; he has by now dropped off the Commerce School Committee.

By June 1956 it is apparent that JJ is having trouble with his hearing; there begin to be a significant number of signed corrections to the minutes. It is perhaps for this reason that when in July committees are set up to follow through on the agriculture school project, JJ is left out.

Towards the end of 1956 the Hungarian crisis begins to have an impact: on November 28 they decide to award three College places for refugees. Then on December 5 it is decided to buy a 300 acre farm somewhere 35 miles or less from Dublin; this act confirms the College's claim to be in the running for a link with the Agricultural Institute, of which the projected structure is still fluid. This decision is 'on a division'; we are not told who was against, but we may be sure JJ was for, likewise Mitchell and the Provost.


On January 16 it is recorded that the DU Co-operative society applies for a beer licence. This retail outlet for student groceries had been founded by JJ and others in 1913, and was fulminated against by the Dublin shopkeepers. It clearly had expansion plans in mind. I gather that it went out of business in the 1970s. There is perhaps a saga here for someone to dig up. I got some of the story from Jennifer Gill.

On January 23 the women graduates provide a personal allowance for a woman refugee; the Hungarian crisis is still with us.

The Kells Ingram Farm
Then the agriculture issue reasserts itself: on February 20 1957 the DU Agricultural Society is sanctioned; this provides a forum for the agricultural students, a source of political support. The next week, on the 27th, the Board agrees the purchase of Townley Hall, an estate on the Boyne, near Drogheda, not far from the site of the famous Battle.

The farm is to be called after John Kells Ingram, who in his youth, in the Young Ireland epoch, had written the words of the song "Who Fears to Speak of '98", and who later had been active with Fitzgerald in the politics of the Royal University and the background to the foundation of the NUI. This naming was also a political assertion of TCD as a force in national mainstream politics, and a refusal to be marginalised by the 'Catholic nationalist' politicking of UCD under the leadership of Tierney, which had the downgrading of TCD as its objective. This latter is all explicitly treated in Donal McCartney's 'UCD, a National Idea', published by Gill & MacMillan in 1999.

The issue is contentious, and the Board divides, the names being registered. The Provost, Parke, Gwynn, Luce, Stanford, Wormell, Mitchell, Chubb and JJ are for; against are Thrift, Godfrey, Fearon, Duncan, Poole and Torrens. There is digging to be done if we are to understand the political rationale for this division. Both old-timers and 'new wave' are on each side. Opposition seems to focus on the science and medical faculties. Duncan, who holds the Chair of Economics, is opposed. But Provost McConnell and Registrar Mitchell are supportive, and JJ for a time gets to ride with 'new wave' college politics, until later when the project goes sour under the stress of what perhaps can be identified as Government centralist institutional politics.

I can perhaps put forward as a working hypothesis that those against represented the old Protestant defeated-ascendancy view (keep your heads down, don't rock the boat, accept Catholic nationalist hegemony, and hope to survive unnoticed in the undergrowth) while those for represented a positive assertion of Protestant participation in mainstream national development. The Provost, Gwynn, Stanford, Mitchell and my father were certainly all of the latter view.

A farm management committee is set up consisting of JJ, Mitchell, Byrne and one Lett who would appear to have been the farm manager. It was agreed that the committee should open a bank account in Drogheda. The issue continues into the meeting on April 24, when certain legal problems are noted, to do with extras and existing crops; also the Board has to get an Ordinance passed by the Fellows to enable it to purchase land. The Veterinary College question still smolders: the Provost, the Bursar and Jessop are to meet with the Veterinary Council. These issues are all connected with the question of the relative roles of TCD, UCD and the Government in organising for dedicating resources to agricultural research.

According the the 1957-58 Calendar, where Towney Hall first appears, the house was build by Francis Johnston in or about 1800. Mrs Townley Balfour, who had owned it, had died in 1955; she was a daughter of JK Ingram. The College was the beneficiary of a legacy left by her brother, Captain J Kells Ingram, who died in 1956.

When the Annual Offices came around on June 19 JJ managed, with the momentum of the Kells Ingram Farm victory, to get his way with regard to appointments. The Provost wanted Mitchell as Bursar and Chubb for Registrar, while JJ wanted these reversed; Mitchell had done a good job as Registrar along with JJ, representing the College with the Department of Agriculture, and JJ wanted continuity of experience with this role in the context of the Kells Ingram farm committee. JJ got his way. It was then agreed that Mitchell as Registrar should, as a routine role, represent the College in negotiations with external bodies.

On October 23 there is a reference to a memo by JJ on part-time Professorships; it could have been to do with lecturing hours. This memo, which is referenced to Vol 8 of the Companion, where key related documents are archived, has gone missing, apparently along with the whole volume. It is as if it had been referred to the Companion, and then the Companion procedure was simply dropped, as there are no more volumes thereof.

On November 13 it is agreed that the Kells Ingram Farm is to be accessible to second-year agricultural students from the following Hilary term, and the Department of Agriculture is to be asked to support a research programme in farm economics. This represents the culmination of JJ's attempts to get a scientific understanding of scale effects in farm organisation. We have here a 300 acre unit, with timber, crops, livestock and a walled garden, an integrated traditional manor farm unit, supporting over 10 families and generating substantially more added value than 10 30 acre units would produce, if the farm were to be divided, according to the political objectives of Fianna Fail. He had made this argument repeatedly in lectures and papers, in the SSISI and elsewhere, over the years from the 20s.


From now on JJ's main interest is the Kells Ingram farm. It comes up again on March 19 1958; the management committee is strengthened by adding the Bursar and Webb (the botanist) to Registrar Mitchell, JJ and manager Lett. They are authorised to sell some timber. The bank account is moved from Drogheda to Dublin. One can here read between the lines; economic life in Ireland is at its nadir; there are mass demonstrations of unemployed in the streets of Dublin. Emigration is at its peak. The College is concerned: has it over-extended itself? On April 30 however they declare confidence in the future and invest £3500 in building a bungalow for the manager. The manor house itself is more suited as a conference centre, which role they later try to develop.

On May 5 they agree that GF Mitchell the Registrar is to represent them on the Board of the Agricultural Institute, and Jessop is to represent them on the Veterinary Council. On June 25 the farm accounts are noted, without comment.

JJ's last minutes, in the main JJ series of minutes, were written on July 2 1958. JJ retains a continuous presence for some time after this however; the farm project keeps him going.

On June 11 JJ wrote a memo to the Board regarding the Senior Proctor's stipend. This was considered in his absence, and no action was taken. The memo is referenced to the companion volume, but it seems to have been mislaid. From this time on JJ's attendance at the Board becomes increasingly irregular. He seems to have been increasingly conscious of being sidelined, and perhaps conscious of his pet farm project beginning to assume 'white elephant' status, thanks to the way the Government handled the development of the Agricultural Institute, with green-field sites, bypassing the Universities with their postgraduate research systems.

After attending routine meetings on October 1 and 8, he does the minutes again on October 15. Then on October 29 Garrett Fitzgerald is appointed Senior Research Worker in the Rockfeller Foundation Economic Project. There are indications of unease in the Agriculture School: students are on the agenda, requiring permission to do supplementary examinations.

On November 12 Duncan is sanctioned to work on an Irish Management Institute productivity Committee. Duncan emerges in the lead of the opposition to the Kells Ingram Farm: on December 10 the matter came up, and Duncan wanted the discussion postponed until he could be there. He did not get his way; the matter was discussed, and it was agreed that the farm should seek credit subject to the College Finance Committee.


On January 28 the Kells Ingram Farm again came up; Duncan proposed and Fearon seconded that the College should get rid of it. On the recommendation of the Finance Committee, a development budget of £20K was agreed, over the period 1958-63, to be regarded as a loan. The pro-farm group was still getting his way, and fighting a rearguard action.

The handing over of the farm budget to the College Finance Committee was a stimulus for JJ to take a look at College investment policy, which he did in a memo on February 11. He compared it unfavourably with the Church of Ireland Representative Body, which had gone for an equity portfolio a decade earlier.

JJ was absent on on April 22, and in his absence an Ordinance was approved, after being vetted by the Visitors, to do with pensions. In this context pre-1920 Fellows' rights were untouched. There is a reference to the installation of a cobalt 60 radiation source at the Kells Ingram Farm, with a view to experiments in genetics involving irradiation of seeds etc. The Farm, and its possible role in the still nascent Agricultural Institute is still high on the agenda of the academic leadership: Mitchell and Pakenham-Walsh are sent to attend a conference of Schools of Agriculture in Paris on July 27-31, under the OEEC (Organisation of European Economic Co-operation), the 'Marshall Plan' body which was funding the Irish investment in the Agricultural Institute.

On April 29 JJ is back, but no longer doing minutes; Mitchell, Chubb and Ryan accept the new retirement procedure. Then on May 6 they approve the initiation of an Honours course in Agriculture. JJ is absent on May 20 ad May 27; about this time he moves from Grattan Lodge near Stradbally to Bayly Farm near Nenagh. He gets back to attend Board meetings on June 3; after this there are no more minutes in his writing. His hearing was by this time becoming a serious barrier.

On July 1 the Kells Ingram Farm comes up again. Pakenham-Walsh and P McHugh the manager (he has apparently succeeded Lett) sign the cheques. The accounts are accepted on October 1, in JJ's absence, and the report is noted. There is set up a School Committee for Agriculture and Forestry; Pakenham-Walsh is Registrar and the committee includes McHugh the Manager, the Bursar, JJ, Mitchell and LG Carr-Lett, who now apparently has an external advisory role. Much of the work within the TCD School of Agriculture is actually done in UCD; I interpret this as evidence of an attempt on the TCD side to develop inter-university co-operation, in the context of the opportunity presented by the OEEC funding, despite Tierney's ongoing hostility, as documented by Donal McCartney in his 'UCD a National Idea'.

Then on December 9 it is agreed that Pakenham-Walsh is to sign cheques for the School of Agriculture, and the bank account is to be moved to College Green.


During this time my father remained as Senior proctor; he held this post until 1962, after which he ceases to hold any annual office.

He remained active in defence of the TCD role in agriculture, insofar as he could, from his distant base in Bayly Farm near Nenagh. He tended to come up for the mid-week, live in is rooms, and take in the Board meetings on a Wednesday. Sometimes however they overflowed to a Saturday, and these he missed.

He was absent on February 10, 17 and 24. On the latter date the Board agreed to drop the Arts requirements for the School of Agriculture; this meant dropping the French and German options. JJ had almost certainly put these requirements in, on foot of his earlier experience of trying to get the Irish agricultural community to look to France rather than Britain for external experience.

On March 16 they decide to empower the Vacation Committee to conclude an agreement with the new Agricultural Institute for setting up an Applied Genetics Unit. Then on April 20 they employ a Research Assistant, Saeve Coffey, at the Kells Ingram Farm, and the following week they agree to give Mitchell residential status there, while he remains Chairman of the Farm Committee.

On May 11 it is agreed that George Dawson in Genetics should undertake work for the Agricultural Institute, and on June 1 they decide to expand the Veterinary College building into the College Botanical Gardens. They are still clearly aspiring to have an ongoing role in both agricultural and veterinary science. Dawson's Genetics Unit is set up on June 29 at Kells Ingram Farm, the agreement with the Agricultural Institute having been made successfully.

By November it is apparent that they need to spend money on Kells Ingram farm again; they agree on 2nd to seek tenders for alterations. On November 5, which was a Saturday, JJ was absent; the Board shows its liberal colours by agreeing to use the College Chapel for any denomination, provided there is a Chaplain nominated by a Church.

On November 9, JJ being present, 5 students are excluded from the School of Agriculture, suggesting that the system is under some strain. However JJ gets to represent the College at the National Horticultural Research Conference to be held in Dublin in December. He is however absent on Saturday November 19, when the question of evidence for the Higher Education Commission is discussed.

To conclude the decade: one gets the impression that JJ's pet projects, the Kells Ingram Farm, and the Honours School of Agriculture, are under some strain, and he is losing interest, turning to the completion of his Berkeley book.

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Copyright Dr Roy Johnston 1999