A short history of the Philosoph

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This history would appear to be based on the earlier Maume's History. As the name would imply, this history has been severly edited and shortened - and some details seem to have been confused in the process.

A short history of the Philosoph[edit]

Queen’s College, Cork was opened in October 1849. The Anglican Chaplain founded the Philosoph in early 1850, as a rival to Trinity’s Phil. and Hist. in early 1850 but because the hierarchy were suspicious of the 'godless college', there were no Catholic Chaplains until Windle’s presidency. The Philosoph is the oldest and largest society in the College.

By the turn of the century the Philosoph had practically vanished, as QCC had only 170 students. It had become a medical school, training doctors for export. The academic decorum of the time meant that there was almost no contact between staff and students, and with clubs and societies dead or dormant, there was very little collegiate spirit. The College was revived in 1904 with the arrival of a dynamic new President in the form of Sir Bertram Windle. In a spurt of energy in 1905 a small group of students revived the Philosoph, and Dramat and a student magazine (QCC!) were founded.

One of the re-established society’s first decisions was to admit women into the society. The first woman spoke on March 16th 1905. A year later there were complaints that only one woman attended meetings. There weren’t too many men there either; 35 was considered a very good attendance.

Since then the Philosoph has carried on regardless of almost anything else that has happened in the country or the world. Even the Civil War couldn’t hold us back from holding our inaugural meeting in 1922 (although all other meetings were cancelled in the first term). The 20s were turbulent in more ways than one. The society was banned for several years, though like good Philosophers the members redefined themselves as the College Debating Union and continued to meet. Further trouble followed when the Chaplain objected to the Professor of Zoology addressing the society on evolution, and the Philosoph appealed to an ecclesiastical court.

The 30s brought a spurt of post revolutionary action and the abandonment of formal wear at meetings, though this was restored in 1937 on the motion of Eoin "The Pope" O'Mahony, who later became auditor and was soon impeached. He persevered, however, and later became the auditor of Trinity Hist. He was one of Ireland’s great eccentrics and lawyers – even meriting a mention in Brendan Behan's "Borstal Boy" ('Don’t worry the pope is coming over to defend you') and was one in a long and ever growing line of eccentrics involved in the Philosoph.

Under the reign of Alfred O'Rahilly, the Philosoph came on in leaps and bounds, although he also established a rival debating society, the Academy of St. Thomas. This was the first in a series of inferior imitations, it was followed by An Chuallacht Gaedhlach and some crowd called the Law Soc – however the Philosoph remains the superior debating society on campus…..

However, the history of the Philosoph is not all flowery, there are also a number of shameful incidents to remember including when, in the 1930s some of the members tried to stop Gerald Goldberg from speaking as he was Jewish. However, the Philosoph has always tried to bear in mind the sanctity of free speech – in 1977 the college authorities tried to ban a debate on homosexuality, but succeeded only in having the wording of the motion altered slightly, and in 1999 the holocaust revisionist David Irving was invited to speak in the Philosoph and is was only the intervention of the Guards and college authorities (for public safety reasons) which prevented him.

The Philosoph is the only Irish Society to have won Worlds and the only Irish Society outside of Dublin to have hosted the same competition. It is also the only Irish society to host Europeans, in 2005. This strong tradition at competitive debating continues to this day, winning 9 IV’s over the last four years in addition to the Irish Times Debating Competition.

The Philosoph remains a place where debates are lively, laughter comes easily and everyone’s opinions are respected. However it is, as Sean McBride said in response to the 1950 Auditorial address, ultimately a society whose "purpose is to entertain". So come along and entertain us and help us write the next chapter in the history of the Philosoph.