WHAT IS THE LITERARY AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Foundation

The L&H was founded in 1855, a year after the foundation of the Catholic University of Ireland, the precursor to UCD. Both the university and the debating society were founded by Father John Henry Newman (future Cardinal Newman). 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.Conor Cruise O'Brien served as Vice President of the Society during his time in UCD.

Most of the College's societies, including the UCD Student Union itself can trace their roots to the L&H.

Earlsfort years

Before the university moved to Belfield, the debates were held on Saturday nights in the Physics Theatre, in Earlsfort Terrace. Here, the popularity and renown of the L&H flourished and the Society first became known on a national scale. Quite often, events occurring at the Society's debates made front page news in the national press.

At various occasions, college authorities and external bodies attempted to shut the Society down, including in 1961, when the L&H was suspended by UCD authorities.No such attempts have been successful.

On the Belfield campus.

In 1972, the Society again relocated, this time to UCD's Belfield campus, where the majority of students now studied. Since this time the Society has grown in size and popularity due to the novice but dangerous initiation tasks that committee members carry out. Notably, in 1957 an unnamed committee member came close to being expelled after an event that the college refuses to disclose.

Centennial and sesquicentennial histories.

A 150th Anniversary book, edited by Frank Callanan SC, has been published to update James Meenan’s centenary history of the society, published in 1955. The book, together with the reprinted centenary history, details the complete story of Ireland's most famous debating society and comprises a range of articles by various personalities from the L&H's past on the last 50 years of the Society, including Maeve BinchyOwen Dudley EdwardsVincent BrowneKevin MyersAdrian Hardiman and Michael McDowell .

In recent years The L&H has been very successful in competitive debating, with members reaching Semi finals of the European and Worlds debating championships as recently as 2019. The Society has had 12 teams win the Irish Times debating competition and 15 individual winners. 

Please see our constitution below.