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13 The Transformation of the Irish College, Paris: War, Education, and Administration, 1870–1918

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Chapter Summary

The French Third Republic transformed numerous aspects of civil and religious life throughout France. Perhaps most fundamental was the relationship between church and state, which was changed in various ways, notably in the areas of education and bureaucracy. In many ways, the experience of the Irish college in Paris, which was broadly reflective of France and French society during this period of war, social unrest, and national transformation, provides a valuable insight into the nature and extent of these changes. Between 1870 and 1918, the college, a small seminary situated within the Latin Quarter of the fifth arrondissement, underwent enforced modernisation, a process complicated by friction between college administrators and Irish bishops over appointments, finances, and student admission. Particularly significant was the administrative reformation of the institution in the wake of the foundation of the Third Republic. 
A shift in management from one man, a French representative appointed by the Archbishop of Paris, to the Bureau gratuit, a collective of French interior managers and ecclesiastics, allowed the college to survive as a distinct Irish institution. The Great War also impacted the Irish college. With its students absent between 1914 and 1918, it served as a refuge for displaced nuns and local Parisians. It fell within range of German artillery during the 1918 spring offensive, but escaped total destruction, as it had in 1871. This chapter details the administrative, financial, educational and, at times, military aspects of the Irish college, Paris, during this turbulent and formative period.



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