Historical Society launches Hist250 celebrations

Prof David McConnell, Sir Donnell Deeny with Caomhán Hamill, Records Secretary, Hist Society & Director of Hist250 Ursula Quill.

The College Historical Society at Trinity College Dublin, better known as the Hist will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of its foundation as the world’s oldest student debating society, next year in the Spring of 2020. The Right Honourable Sir Donnell Deeny, Pro-Chancellor of the University and in his youth the only person to win the Irish Times Debating Trophy three times, formally launched next year’s programme of Hist250 celebrations, at a special reception in the Graduates Memorial Building this week.

Speaking at the launch of the Hist250 programme Sir Donnell said:

“The Hist has been at the forefront of major debates in Irish political, social and cultural life for the past 250 years. This occasion will give us the opportunity to reflect on the long and auspicious history of the Hist and its important role in promoting real debate in society. Now, more than ever before, discourse and debate are crucial in a democratic society and must be preserved and celebrated.”

“The impressive roll of honour of former members of the Hist include notable figures from all periods of Irish history: Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmett, Thomas Davis, Isaac Butt, Douglas Hyde, Edward Carson, Brian Lenihan and Mary Harney among many scholars, lawyers and public servants.  Its proud traditions of independence and oratory have embraced all the strands of Irish modern history and addressed a wider European history as well.”

Hist250 will demonstrate the society’s significant influence on the intellectual life of Ireland over the last two and a half centuries up to the present time. At a time when democratic institutions and multilateral cooperation are under attack, it will focus on the future of democracy in Ireland, Europe and worldwide. Together with Irish and global leaders, the Hist will explore solutions to the challenges facing democracy today through oratory, discussion and debate.

The President of the Hist, Professor David McConnell said:

“The Hist, now with several thousand members and one of many other student societies and clubs in College, remains an integral part of our university education. It has formed and developed our ideas, taught us to advocate them and to respect the well-tempered views of other people, and to participate in running a democratic society.”

Hist250 Programme


Dr Patrick Geoghegan is writing the History of the Hist, with the generous financial support of Trinity Trust.


An exhibition showcasing some highlights of the Library’s Hist collection, including the original minutes of Burke’s Club from 1747 will be on view in the Long Room of the Old Library from during March 2020.


The Hist Committee will organise debates with Hist Gold Medallists and World Championship Speakers, reinstate collaborative events with our Corresponding Societies, and organise a series of special guest lectures aimed at the student body of over 17,000 undergraduate and post-graduate students.


We will host an International Student Debate with teams from Ireland, North America and Europe demonstrating the very best of student debating.

HIST250 WEEK: 2-6 MARCH 2020

These events will culminate in a celebratory week of 2-6 March 2020 when we will explore the future of democracy through debate, discussion and oratory, with public figures from Ireland and abroad, including former President of Ireland and Chancellor Mary Robinson.


Notes to Editor

Throughout spring 2020, the Hist exhibition will be on display in the Long Room and tours will take place of the newly refurbished Graduates Memorial Building. There is already a very active Hist250 committee in place with participants in Dublin, London, New York and beyond. The Hist will be holding Hist250 events in the UK and the United States in addition to the programme in Trinity. If you would like to play an active part, please contact us:

In preparation for the 2020 events we invite you to share your favourite memories and photos of your time at the Hist. If you would like to donate other memorabilia please contact hist250@thehist.com.


Media Contact:

Caoimhe Ni Lochlainn, Head of Library Communications | nilochlc@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 4710