NCAD is art at the heart of the Liberties

The National College of Art and Design (NCAD) is Ireland’s oldest art institution. It was founded in 1746 as a drawing school by Robert West, an Irish artist and teacher from Waterford, and is a huge part of Irish history.   

There are just over 1500 students between undergraduates and part-time students on Thomas Street where NCAD has been for over 40 years.  

“I personally love studying here. I enjoy being in a creative environment with my own space to make art. I’ve found the people to be amazing and lovely,” said Iseult Ní Bhraonáin, a student at NCAD when asked about how she likes studying there and what she enjoys the most. 

“I am enjoying my time at NCAD. It’s an honour to be a part of such an accomplished college that never fails to provide its students with widespread opportunities on both a local and global scale, helping post & undergraduates continuously expand their practise. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by a diverse range of skilled individuals from all walks of life. The tutors and fellow students are very friendly and easy to be around,” said Megan McGee, a second-year student at NCAD.  

For most of its history, NCAD was located in Kildare Street, in a series of buildings adjoining the Dáil and the National Library of Ireland. With increasing student numbers and a requirement for additional space by the Dáil, the College relocated to the Liberties in the early 1980s, to a site at 100 Thomas Street which was formerly the home of Power’s Whiskey Distillery. 

Unlike many other colleges or universities, NCAD does consist of buildings on streets rather than a specific set of land or campuses designated to it like TU Dublin or Dublin City University. 

“Our campus consists purely of a multitude of buildings, I think apart from the vast amount of buildings which house separate departments, the campus outside of such is small in comparison. However, I feel that, as a collective, most can agree that the campus could do with an upgrade. It can be easy to feel crammed at times,” McGee said. 

Although NCAD doesn’t have much of a campus, per se, it provides good facilities to its students. 

“There is an overwhelming amount of facilities that are accessible to all students, helping them further produce their creative processes. I think the most impressive of all would be our Edward Murphy Library, which houses a collection of over 100,000 books, pamphlets video material, etc, on a wide variety of topics. It’s a facility many students like to utilise the most,” Megan said when asked about the facilities in the college. 

In 2011, NCAD changed from being a Recognised College of NUI to being a Recognised College of UCD, and NCAD degrees are since then validated by UCD. 

There is a wide range of courses available at NCAD. They offer pathways in design, fine art, education, and visual culture, alongside offering the chance to its students to further expand their education at a post-graduate level. 

NCAD is without a doubt a part of the Liberties, and it will continue to be for a long time to come. As a result, we thought it best to see what the students think it brings to the community. 

“I think in one aspect it brings profit to the surrounding businesses, particularly those who can supply students with the creative material required within their field of study,” McGee said. “On a broader scale, NCAD brings to the community generational ideas and imaginative processes that can often positively impact those surroundings, hopefully shining a light of positivity on the community.” 

NCAD is a brilliant thing to have here in the Liberties and hopefully its location may encourage young artists or potential art teachers to stick around the city. 

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