Dublin's All Hallows College to close

Historic Dublin insititution closes due to falling student numbers

The historic religious institution All Hallows College in Dublin is to close, over insufficient student numbers and dwindling finances.

The college announced that it has been operating at "an increasing deficit over many years" and that despite extensive cost-cutting and fund-raising, its closure was inevitable. All Hallows also cited the fact that it is not in receipt of state grants, and that its efforts to increase enrolment figures were hampered by a cap on the numbers of students eligible for Ireland's free fees scheme.

The college is currently in the process of winding-down and is helping many of its existing 450 students to find alternative colleges in which to complete their courses.

Founded in 1842, the institution in Drumcondra in north Dublin city has been run by the Vincentian congregation since 1892. Over the years the seminary trained 5,000 priests who were sent to work all over the English-speaking world as well as in South America. When the number of seminarians entering the college decreased in the 1980s, it began welcoming lay students, offering degrees and courses in areas such as social justice and ethical leadership.

The college recently gained international attention after it put up for auction a cache of letters written by Jackie Kennedy to an elderly Vincentian priest, Fr Joseph Leonard, who died at All Hallows in 1964. However the college withdrew the letters from auction after intervention from the Kennedy family. The letters were written between 1950 and 1964, and the college had hoped their sale would raise more than €1 million.

In a separate development, there is an ongoing police investigation into the disappearance of several valuable items from the college's archives, whose total value could be up to €100,000. The missing books and paintings include two incunabula from the 1480s, and 15 prints by 18th-century Italian artist Piranesi, worth up to €5,000 each.