UCD Societies: Past, Present and Future

Joining countless societies during Freshers Week just for the goody bags, attending L&H debates with the promise of free pizza, or racing at dawn to put up posters at the Library concourse. Who could forget UCD Societies?

There are currently over 80 Societies and 50 Sports Clubs at UCD, each a unique group that offers experiences to complement academic life. Societies are prime places for students to find their niche; where they forge friendships, discover new passions, and even spot a possible career path they may have never considered. As members of a Society, they can feel part of something as they connect with others through shared interests… and matching hoodies!


Take a moment to explore UCD Societies’…


The very first UCD Society, the Literary & Historical Society, was founded in 1855 by John Henry Newman who believed that there was more to university than just studying for a degree. He said real growth comes from people coming together, asking questions, challenging convention, discussing big ideas, and stepping out of their comfort zones. One of the Society’s most famous members from this era was James Joyce, who presented his paper “Drama and Life” before a crowd of assembled members in 1900. Most of UCD’s Societies, including the UCD Students’ Union itself, trace their roots to the L&H!



Countless alumni such as Dramsoc’s Brenda Fricker and Neil Jordan, The University Observer’s founder Dara Ó Briain, and Politics Society Auditor Martina Fitzgerald credit UCD Societies as the spark which ignited their careers. Today, the UCD Societies scene continues to grow and frame positive university experiences for students.

How has participation in UCD Societies shaped your life today? The UCD Societies History & Memories Project was recently established to create a central archive collection for each Society through connecting with alumni members. Why not share your photos and stories with them today?



Each UCD Society is student-centered and supported by values of democracy, inclusiveness, citizenship and social awareness. Want to know what the current generation is interested in or concerned about? There is no shortage of insight to be gained from Societies’ committees and members; they are change leaders and trend setters. You can find them on social media and many have a presence on the UCD Alumni Network, too.

Over the years, Societies’ reach has stretched beyond the UCD community as students, staff, alumni and friends of UCD all get involved. Things might have changed a bit during that time, so instead of finding them on the front page of The Irish Times, these days you might find them trending on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.


Read more about the impact of UCD Societies in UCD Connections.

National Volunteer Week: Top Tips for Giving Back

National Volunteering Week is here! From mentoring students and speaking at events, to writing testimonials and contributing to orientation videos, alumni make a real difference to the university community in so many ways. By volunteering, alumni enrich the lives of current students and help build a vibrant community in Ireland and abroad.


You can get involved and make a difference…

From home

The UCD Alumni Network has become the hub for members of the UCD community to connect, share advice, and keep informed from wherever in the world they call home. There is so much you can do online and we are thrilled to have this virtual support which has evolved over the past 3 years. 

One great example of this is our Global Alumni Ambassadors who lend their experience and offer advice to prospective students. Online webinars featuring alumni experts have been the lifeblood of our events calendar and you can catch up on all of them on our YouTube Channel when you want to feel inspired. 

We have also received wonderful memories which help tell the story of UCD over the generations. Why not share yours? Volunteering has never been easier!


On campus

Playing an active role in campus events is a great way to reconnect with fellow alumni, former lecturers, and even current students. This year, the biggest opportunity to volunteer on campus is our UCD Festival. We are delighted to be back in person on Belfield campus on Saturday, 10 June.

Would you like to join us? We welcome alumni, staff, students, and friends of all ages to join the crew that helps make the day so special. And if you are based abroad, don’t worry! There may be a Global Perspectives event in your area hosted by our Global Chapter Reps (also volunteers). Be sure to join your local Group to hear more about what’s coming up.


In the community

Recently the UCD Community Engagement Report was launched! It gives a taste of the significant contributions UCD employees, students, and alumni have made over the last year, while inspiring new ideas for engaging with the wider community. Launching its publication, Professor Joe Carthy explained that, “the activities in this report bring to life the values of UCD and demonstrate the open, creative and collaborative spirit in which we engage with the wider community for mutual benefit.” 

If you have ideas for community engagement projects that you would like to see UCD participate in, our UCD in the Community team would love to hear from you!


Volunteering can spark meaningful personal connections, broaden horizons, advance skills and expertise, and cultivate innovative thinking. So why not get involved? Whether you have 30 minutes or 30 hours, no act of volunteering is too small!

Earth Day: Top Tips for Changing the World

This year’s Earth Day theme asks us to invest in our planet. Our alumni and faculty bring their expertise and suggest actionable steps towards building a healthy world in this year’s edition of the UCD Connections magazine. In this article, Dr Tom Ryan writes that “87% of adults in Ireland recognise the importance of the environment as an asset for our country.” If this is the case, why not turn this awareness into action this Earth Day? 


What changes can you make in the areas of…


Food systems influence many environmental factors. How is it sourced, processed, and distributed? Did you know that one-third of all the food that is produced globally every year goes to waste? By making small changes to your diet, you can make a big difference to our planet. You can try eating more plants and eating less meat, buying local and in-season, and reducing food waste. All of these can help you create sustainable eating habits, expand your horizons, and even try new foods! Learn more about the role of food, health and sustainable lifestyle from the UCD Institute for Food and Health lecture series which seeks to harness the expertise of researchers to future-proof global food systems.


Against the backdrop of global energy consumption concerns, one of the unifying themes of our time is our collective responsibility to move towards ‘net zero’. While there are small steps we can take like avoiding long haul flights, turning down the thermostat, and unplugging unused equipment, we need to think bigger in order to save energy and avoid unnecessary CO2 emissions! We need to invest in strategies to cut greenhouse gas emissions to an absolute minimum, so remaining emissions can be reabsorbed from the atmosphere. Learn about UCD researchers working in this area, by visiting the UCD Energy Institute website and exploring the UCD-led carbon neutral dairy farming project.


Spring cleaning is often on our minds at this time of year. What have you gathered that you’d like to get rid of? Think responsibly about how you dispose of things – can it be passed on, sold, or donated? And before you go fill the presses or wardrobes again, take time. Is there a way to reuse or repurpose something you already have? Before you buy new, check to see if you could borrow the item or if you need it, or why not try to source it second hand? By thinking ahead and making more conscious choices in our purchases and consumption, we can be more sustainable with our waste, too. Get started with UCD Green Campus, including the UCD Clothes Swap, The Great Donate, and tips on repurposing materials around your house. 


What inspiration can you take from this into your own life? Small acts, when multiplied, can change the world for the better.

5 Tips for Reading Ulysses

To celebrate Bloomsday 2021, UCD Alumni hosted a special In Conversation webinar event, entitled Bloomsday 2021: Why Ulysses Matters. The event featured Simon O’Connor, Director of Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI), Professor Anne Fogarty, Professor of James Joyce Studies at UCD, and Katherine McSharry, Deputy Director of the National Library of Ireland, who discussed the significance of Ulysses for the work of MoLI and Joyce’s significance for UCD.

If you’ve been meaning to read James Joyce’s Ulysses but never quite got to it, there’s no better year than 2021 as we head towards the 100 year anniversary of this ground-breaking novel. Here are some of the helpful tips from the webinar for reading Ulysses.

1. Don’t start at the beginning: Start at episode four which introduces us to Leopold Bloom, one of the most famous characters in 20th century literature. This chapter is very readable and approachable. Another good tactic is to start at the end – the final episode of Ulysses “Penelope” is universally liked.

2. Listen to recordings of Ulysses: The best known version is the highly acclaimed RTÉ dramatisation which covers the entirety of Ulysses and features renowned actors throughout. Available for free online.

3. Get a good but succinct guide to Ulysses: Ulysses Unbound by Terence Killeen provides short but multifaceted introductions to each of the chapters.

4. Walk around Dublin: Use an app from the James Joyce Centre or a printed guide such as The Ulysses Guide by Robert Nicholson. Listen to or read Ulysses as it introduces you to parts of the city you haven’t visited.

5. Read it to enjoy it: If a chapter is too much for you just skip it and go on to the next bit, you can always return to it as you re-read the novel. Give yourself sufficient time to sit down and read large sections of it, rather than tackling it a page or two at a time.

Finally, as Joyce himself once wrote “To learn one must be humble, but life is a great teacher”. Happy reading!

You can watch back the full webinar event here.

UCD Festival@home 2021

The unique and award winning UCD Festival brings the global UCD community of students, alumni, future students and the wider general public together to join us for over 100 free online events.

The UCD Festival@home 2021 took place from 27 – 29 May. For the second year we were not on campus but instead brought you all the inspiring, fun and informative activities of the regular festival through a virtual platform.

You can now watch back the exciting and engaging events that ran across the weekend, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy including workshops, demonstrations, workouts, performances and more.

Visit https://festival.ucd.ie/ to join in the fun.

#UCDTogether Campaign

Throughout December, we featured stories from our alumni across the globe. Little snippets and insights into how our UCD community were doing through a time of continued uncertainty. As always it was wonderful to hear from our alumni community at a time when so many things are still uncertain.

We want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our alumni who contributed. Yet again for this second #UCDTogether Campaign our hearts were warmed and our connection was strengthened.

All of the stories that were shared can be found here.

The Choral Scholars – New Album Launch

The Choral Scholars is an internationally acclaimed chamber choir of gifted student singers led by founding Artistic Director, Dr. Desmond Earley, based at University College Dublin College of Arts & Humanities. Scholars come from various academic disciplines and commit to an intensive programme of choral study.
Be all Merry is one of three new pieces especially composed for the Choral Scholars. This lively carol for choir, orchestra and violin by Irish composer Eoghan Desmond evokes the joyful play of Christmas in the lines ‘Be all merry in this house/Exultet celum laudibus!’. The recording contains a remarkable setting of the Advent plainsong hymn Christe Redemptor Omnium for tenor solo, chorus, violin and violoncello by Ivo Antognini, crafted for Choral Scholars with the kind support of the Swiss Embassy in Dublin.
The Adoration of the Magi by American composer Timothy Stephens is a breathtaking setting of W. B. Yeats’ poetry. A beautiful Irish-language lullaby – Cró na Nollag – set by father and son, Adhamhnán and Uinseann Mac Domhnaill, and the much-loved Scottish tune simply titled Suantraí, are also included. The Irish Chamber Orchestra are also featured on a number of tracks including The Wexford Carol and Carol of the Bells. The choir closes the album with the song most associated with friendship, hope and the promise of a new year, Auld Lang Syne.
You can purchase the album, Be All Merry, by clicking here.

Making Belfield – Space and Place

Belfield 50 marks the five decades since University College Dublin transferred its administration and the faculties of Arts, Commerce and Law from Earlsfort Terrace to join Science on the Belfield campus. To celebrate this special anniversary, alumna and professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, Finola O’Kane, along with architectural historian, Ellen Rowley, have written and designed this beautifully designed book. It focuses on the campus’ evolution since the late 1960s, and explicitly since 1970.

For the past generation or more, the original Belfield masterplan by Andrzej Wejchert has not been analysed or appreciated, and public opinion has often misunderstood the architecture as a ‘concrete jungle’.

The book ‘Making Belfield’ examines the architecture from an academic perspective, to focus on the origins and importance of UCD’s architecture, collections and libraries, and also, to raise awareness of the excellence of the Belfield campus and its original architectural components.

The essays will evoke memories of Belfield and of time spent there in the various spaces and places and will give the reader a deeper understanding of the place that has shaped so many.

Order Making Belfield directly from UCD Press by clicking here.
Alumni can avail of a special rate of €25 including postage (RRP €40) by emailing ucdpress@ucd.ie directly.
For more details on the launch of the Belfield 50 outdoor exhibitions, click here.

UCD Connections 2020 is here!

Your chance to get a printed copy of UCD Connections 2020!

For those alumni based in Ireland, our annual UCD alumni magazine will be available with The Irish Times on Friday, 11th September and with the Sunday Business Post on Sunday, 13th September 2020.

As there will be a reduced amount of printed copies this year, please do pick up a copy.

For alumni abroad, our updated UCD Connections website (www.ucdconnections.ie) will be live on the morning of Friday 11 September, when you can read the articles online.

UCD Together

Over the past few months, we have been delighted to bring you stories from our alumni across the globe. Little snippets and insights into how our UCD community were adjusting to life in lockdown. It was so wonderful to hear from you at a time when so many things were uncertain – and of course still are.

As most of us move into a new phase of adjustment and begin to embrace our lives and routines again we wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our alumni who contributed. Our hearts were warmed and our connection was strengthened.

All of the stories that were shared can be found here.