The Museum of Ecclesiology in St Patricks College, Maynooth was established in 1934, by a resolution of The Trustees of the College with Dr. William Moran, Professor of Dogmatic Theology being appointed as museum curator. The museum was to be a repository for various objects of Ecclesiastical and College interest, especially those which were linked with the researchers and pioneering work of former Maynooth Professors.
In 1942, on the resignation of Dr. William Moran, the Trustees appointed the Very Rev. Dr Patrick J McLaughlin, Professor of Experimental Physics and later Vice- President of the College, to be curator. This was to be the beginnings of a strong science presence in the College museum. Dr McLaughlin began to transfer apparatus belonging to the renowned Professor of Natural Philosophy, Rev. Professor Nicholas Callan to the museum. These included induction coils, electromagnets, the ‘repeater’, condensers, electric motors and batteries- amongst these his cast-iron cells, which were also manufactured by E.M. Clarke of London, who sold them commercially.
Fr Michael Casey, Professor of Chemistry proceeded him after to be curator from 1975 until his death in 1998. Under his careful watch, the staff of the Experimental Physics department went through all the cupboards and moved all items of scientific instruments that were deemed historic to the museum.
Since then, the museum has been able to develop two main collections.
There is first, the large group of scientific instruments mostly associated with Nicholas Callan of which a full catalogue for this collection was published in 1994 ‘The Scientific Apparatus of Nicholas Callan & other historic instruments’. The museum now has the largest collection of scientific instruments on public display in Ireland, most of which were manufactured in Ireland between 1880 and 1920
The second part of the Museum is a collection of ecclesiastical artifacts from the past three centuries of which a catalogue has also been prepared ‘St Patricks College Maynooth Museum of Ecclesiology: A catalogue of Ecclesiastivcal items spanning two centuries of the College history’ .
In September 1999 Dr N.E. McKeith was appointed museum curator, reflecting the continued interest in the museum by the Department of Experimental Physics.
Interested for more? Follow our Museum Blog ‘Sacred and Scientific; Reflections on the National Science and Ecclesiology Museum Maynooth’
Acknowledgements: Particular thanks are due to Rev Prof Michael Mullaney, President of St Patricks College, Maynooth for his help and support. Also, Intel Ireland Ltd.