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The College Guide To UCC: Shaky bridges, Boole, and the skull and crossbones

What new students need to know about the Rebel County college and its pretty campus.

Image: Flickr/infomatique

A STONE’S THROW from Cork city centre, University College Cork (UCC) is really in the thick of the action of the rebel county’s capital.

It’s a home away from home for more than 20,000 people during the peak academic times of the year, with students flocking to the campus to study the likes of medicine, arts and law.

UCC is a college steeped in history. The first two female medical graduates in the country studied in UCC and the college appointed the first female professor in Ireland or Great Britain back in 1910.

If you’re on your way to UCC this coming semester, here’s a rundown of what to expect and how to fit right in.

What’s the campus like? A pretty spot also full of new architecture. Here you are outside the new student centre.

What’s the most Instagrammed place on campus? Definitely ‘the Quad’. But people like snapping Daly’s Bridge (aka ‘the shaky bridge’), which is about to begin a massive renovation project.

What’s the best spot for a chicken fillet roll? Well, it isn’t exactly on campus, but it’s nearby in Cliffords DayBreak on College Road. But beware, it’s a popular joint for this exact order so it’s busy during lunch. If the chicken fillet rolls aren’t your thing, the best place to eat is probably the main restaurant where there’s a wider choice of food.

Where are the best study hideouts? There’s the central library on campus – the Boole Library – and two branch libraries, the Boston Scientific Health Sciences Library and the Hospital Library in Cork University Hospital. The library can be a very daunting place for freshers though, so make use of the tours to find the best study hideouts.

Even if you do find a hideout, chances are it will be busy when you most need it, so you’ll need an option B. Just outside the main gates of the college is Coffee Station which, outside of lunch hours, can be a nice spot to sit down with a tea or coffee to read over some notes.

Is there a bar on campus? Of course. There’s the New Bar (aka Club Áras) – a popular spot for class parties, and also a nice venue for a table quiz.

The Old Bar is currently being renovated to include a Sensory Room and a Quiet Room – part of an overall project to make the campus more autism-friendly. 

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How can you sound like a final year? Drop a bit of knowledge on everyone about why UCC sports clubs bear the skull and crossbones on their gear.

The college’s connection with the emblem dates back to 1880 when UCC was known as Queen’s College Cork. At the time it was mostly a medical school and when the doctors togged out to play they used the skull and crossbone as their symbol. Over the years, other sports clubs started to do the same and the logo has actually been copyrighted since 1999.

Another way to show you know your stuff would be actually to read up on George Boole. There’s so much named after him on campus, you can rest assured his name will come up.

Boole was the first professor of mathematics at UCC in the 1800s and devised Boolean algebra, which many years later would help make computer programming possible. He also has a crater named after him on the moon.

And finally, rumours have circulated since the 1980s that the remains of a nuclear reactor are somewhere on campus. But it’s no rumour, it’s actually true. So maybe stay away from the basement of the physics department if you know what’s best for you.

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What do UCC students love about it? Psychology student Cailean Coffey says he loves the spirit on campus.

In UCC, if you ask a question everyone will try their absolute best to find you an answer – so don’t be afraid to ask.

Meanwhile medicine graduate Rob Whiriskey goes for the freebies on offer.

Great sporting facilities with free access to the gym for all students and recent graduates.

And… what do they NOT love about it? Rob says some parts of the college can feel a bit disjointed from the rest of campus.

If you’re in health sciences or medicine you’re quite isolated from the main campus.

Also, if you’re planning on driving to campus prepare for a battle. It can be difficult to get parking, according to Rob.

What should freshers know? Be wary of the computers, they can turn on you, according to Cailean.

If you’re ever doing an essay, always press save and always email it to yourself so that you have a copy even if your computer decides to randomly reset itself or freeze. Nothing worse than losing four hours of work in 10 seconds.

Rob says freshers should know how to strike a balance between work and play.

Enjoy the Cork way of life. Cork city is home to some really unique attractions like the English Market, breweries and great bars so it really does cater to everyone. Explore the county and Munster. Cork is massive and has many hidden gems if you’re the adventurous type.

Who should I follow? It’s probably helpful to follow the president of the college, proud Corkman Pádraig G Ó Sé, who is a UCC man through and through – his tweets will get you in the college spirit.

There’s also no harm in following your lecturers either. They might be the ones giving you a dig out come exam season. Serial academic tweeters are Conor O’Mahony, the constitutional law expert on campus, and plant scientist Eoin Lettice.

But someone who falls into the influencer category would be Harry McCann. The young entrepreneur is going places and just enrolled in UCC to study digital humanities and IT.

And finally, if you want to know what’s happening on campus and further afield, UCC Express and Motley Magazine are your friends.

What’s the accommodation situation? There are about 1,000 rooms on campus across several accommodation blocks, and it’s all allocated on a lottery basis. Students can also avail of alcohol-free and quiet housing options at Victoria Lodge, Castlewhite and Victoria Mills. But it can be competitive for on-campus apartments, so here’s a look at rentals in the area on Daft.ie.

UCC in numbers

1: UCC was actually the first university in the world to be awarded a Green Flag for efforts to reduce its impact on the environment.

147: That’s how many years the college’s rugby club has been around.

181: When the college first opened in 1849, it had only two dozen professors and just 181 students. A real tight-knit group.

1910: That’s the year Mary Ryan was appointed Professor of Romance Languages. She was the first woman to be appointed a professor at a university in Ireland or Great Britain.

735,000: That’s how many titles there are in UCC’s libraries. (But somehow the book you need most during exam week will still be out of stock.)

Are you going to UCC this coming semester (or is it your alma mater)? Share your opinion in the comments!

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