College Life in Ireland for University Students Ultimate Guide

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Want to get a broad perspective into the college life in our Emerald Isle third-level campuses? Ireland’s seven public universities are all ranked within the world’s top 700 in the QS World University Rankings® 2019, as is one of the 14 institutes of technology. HomeHak has put together an insight for you. We have covered some of the main universities North, South, East and West of the Emerald Isle. 




There is no doubt about the strong presence of students in this vibrant city. To better serve their college life, there is an array of pubs and restaurants around nearly every corner. UCC boasts a central city location. On the other hand, CIT lies in the suburbs residing in Bishopstown. Cork is the perfect base to explore the beautiful countryside. 



This well presented university is full of top class facilities on site and is a ‘stone throw away’ from exploring all the city has to offer also. Here is a link to UCC Student Union. UCC is designed so that students do not have to leave. Why should you when you have the student centre, the mardyke, the amphitheatre, the new bar and old bar all on campus?

Looking to get off campus and explore more into the city? Students usually head to Fitzgeralds park which is located close by. Feeling thirty? You will find students in Suas, Annie Macs, The Rock, Cissie Youngs or The Washington Inn. Want to find a hot spot for a sporting match and pizza? Head to Sober Lane where you can get a pitcher of beer for €14 or, if they also order a pizza, the pitcher is just €10. Feeling hungry? On campus you can head to Elements or Cafe Oasis. Food here is generally fairly priced and offers good deals for students. Off campus you can get good deals in Koto, Ramen, The Old Oak,  BBQ joint The White Rabbit, Wabisabi or KC’s in Douglas.


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You will find the main campus in Bishopstown. CIT’s Cork School of Music and the Crawford College of Art and Design are both in Cork city campuses. Students of CIT’s National Maritime College of Ireland are based in Cobh. There is an active student life here with many clubs and societies to get involved in. Here is a link to MTU Student Union.

At the Bishopstown campus, students flock to the courtyard on sunny days. They also gather at Nexus student centre and the common room, or at the sports stadium, pitch or one of the two gyms. There’s no on-campus bar but the Bishopstown Bar is a popular spot with CIT students. Most students eat in the canteen, the Bishopstown Bar or Model Farm. Alternatively, they cycle (approx 20 minutes) or get a bus (about 30 minutes) to the city centre.

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The capital of Ireland, it has more third-levels than any other county. These include TU Dublin, UCD, Trinity, DCU, NCAD, Marino Institute of Education, IADT Dún Laoghaire, DBS, Griffith College and more. Yes prices can seem extortionate for college life but it does offer a great selection of cheap eats than any other city. Dublin is a cultural city and has a great array of pubs, clubs and restaurants.


Trinity College or TU students will have the best pick being closest to the centre. This is in comparison to UCD students out on the Belfield campus or DCU students on the Glasnevin site, where it’s a bus ride into the city. For this reason, we focused more on the hot spots in the city centre but we do have a little bit of something for everyone.


Trinity College

Let’s start with the most dominant and central feature in the city – Trinity College. A beautiful and historic campus that tourists flock to see. Because of this, Trinity is a lovely place to while away a few hours, with plenty of benches, pitches and little nooks. Trinity also boasts what is easily the best university library in the country. Here is a link to Trinity College Dublin Students Union.


The Pav is a popular drinking spot for students and, on sunny days, the hordes of Dubliners like to spread out onto the surrounding pitches. Students also hang around the JCR (Junior Common Room), arts block and surrounding bars. Nearby pubs Doyle’s (College Street), Grogans (William Street South) and The Gingerman (Fenian Street) are among the most popular watering holes. Captain America’s (Grafton Street) does good deals on drinks.


Trinity students are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding a place for lunch or a night out. On campus, there’s decent-ish but reliable food at reasonable prices in The Buttery, and students can also eat in the Dining Hall. Nearby cheap eats include Yum Thai (Duke Street), any of the burrito places including Tolteca and Pablo Picante. The best-value lunches are a short hop away with plenty of cheap Indian, Chinese and Korean places just over O’Connell Bridge around Parnell Street, Capel Street and Moore Street. On Dame Street, a short hop from Trinity, Umi Falafel’s all-day plate for two offers arguably the best value vegetarian and vegan food in the city.

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TU Dublin campuses

TU Dublin is gradually moving into the Grangegorman campus near Stoneybatter, Dublin 7. For the other campuses, there is certainly no lack of places to eat or drink on their doorsteps. Students of one campus can use the facilities at the others, including gyms. Here is a link to TU Dublin Students Union.


There are many pubs around Stoneybatter/Smithfield, as well as The Lighthouse Cinema for food, drink and films. The Bolton Street campus has a good selection of pubs around the area, as do the Kevin and Aungier Street campuses. Around Grangegorman? Head to Cowtown Cafe.


For students still on or near the Kevin Street, Store Street, and Aungier Street sites – or, indeed, for other college students in the city – Camden Street is a mecca for cheap eats, try The Green Bench cafe. There’s Govinda’s on Aungier Street and Neon17’s. Just around the corner, there is a Vietnamese take-out Pang. For Bolton Street students, just step off campus and wander across to any of the many Asian restaurants and cafes around Capel Street and Parnell Street. Give M&L and Hilan a try. 


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UCD students centre has really helped to transform the campus. It has nearly everything you need such as a 3D cinema, theatre, debating chamber, gym and Olympic-sized swimming pool. Because of its location away from Dublin city, UCD can, despite its scale, feel like a community. UCD students are likely to head into town to drink. On campus, the student centre and the Global Lounge – an indoor entertainment hub for game-playing, TV watching, seminars and films – is a popular spot. All the best on-campus food is to be found at Pulse in the Health Sciences building. Centra can be one of the cheaper on-campus food options. The best nearby off-campus option is the Olive Tree restaurant at the Clonskeagh mosque. Here is a link to UCD’s Student Union.


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As the main Glasnevin campus is a bus journey from the city, the students’ unions and societies are particularly active. DCU is also the world’s first autism-friendly campus as well as having the most diverse student population. On campus, most students hang out around the NuBar, the Mezz, the students’ union or the canteen. Across the road, students can be found in The Slipper bar DCU is fairly well-served by a few restaurants such as NuBar and cafes around campus, with the main canteen offering a good selection. 2km away, The Gravediggers pub is known for its quality food. 


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Students love their popular hotspot and college canteen, Luncheonette. Nearby you must also try Arthur’s and Manning’s Bakery. Vicar Street is a live music venue right on the college’s doorstep. Here is a link to the Student’s Union.


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NUI Galway

An artistic and cultural hub for the nation of Ireland’s college life. There’s always music, film, literature and general arts festivals humming alongside a range of gigs in vibrant bars. Galway is also probably the cheapest university town in Ireland. Salthill will be a popular hang out spot. The Crane Bar and the Róisín Dubh are the city’s main live music venues. For food, try Smokie’s cafe or the student bar. McDonaghs on Quay Street is a Galway institution. Here is a link to NUI Galways Student Union.


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Home to the University of Limerick, Mary Immaculate College (teacher training) and the Limerick Institute of Technology, there’s always a buzz to be found for college life here. UL isn’t in the city centre, but students don’t suffer too much as the campus is probably Ireland’s most beautiful and well-planned.

University of Limerick

A beautiful campus that students can happily find plenty of nice corners. There are plenty of clubs and societies to keep everyone busy outside class time. The UL arena boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a top-class gym. The courtyard hosts a weekly farmers’ market. The campus bar, The Stables, has a cracking atmosphere. Off campus, Dolan’s Warehouse is one of Ireland’s best live music venues. Angel Lane is a popular nightclub for the city’s students. Most people eat at one of more than a dozen restaurants or cafes on the campus such as La Cucina, The Chicken Hut on O’Connell Street and Turkuaz Kebab House. Here is a link to UL’s Student Union.


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Maynooth University

This university – relatively small by global standards has certainly grown providing an improved college life. The new library is particularly impressive. On campus, there’s a students’ union bar. The Brewery Coffee, The Roost, The Duke and Coachman are some late-night bars. The Phoenix restaurant, Chill Restaurant and Starbucks are on the main on-campus eatery. Beetroot, Yeah Burgr and Picaderos are popular spots for a meal out: Here is a link to Maynooths Student Union.


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Waterford Institute of Technology

With Tramore’s beaches and the Comeragh Mountains on the doorstep, there’s plenty of opportunity to really enjoy the weather. Public transport to and from the college is fairly frequent and reliable. WIT is a relatively intimate place to go to college. On the WIT campus, the Dome Sports & Social Club is the main bar. Off campus, The Foundry and Henry Downes are the go to night spots. Students also congregate on the campus’s many green spaces.The Hot House Bistro, Brown’s Road, Oscars Cafe and The Gallery all serve food on campus. Here is a link to WIT’s Student Union.


Please find some useful links for studying at WIT:

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To summarise

Higher education in Ireland consists of universities, specialist colleges (offering courses in a single subject area), and institutes of technology. The latter don’t just offer courses in technology subjects, but also cover a wide range of vocational programs, in subjects including hospitality, healthcare, pharmacy, media, textiles, marketing and many more. We hope you enjoyed reading out college life in Ireland for students guide!

For more reading on university life in Ireland, check out our article:

University Experience in Ireland – How to Make the Most of it.

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