The University was founded in 1845 as Queen’s College Galway. It was one of the three Queen’s Colleges founded under the Queen’s Colleges (Ireland) Act, 1845, the others being located in Belfast and Cork. The College opened for students on 30th October 1849.
By the Irish Universities Act (1908), Queen’s College Galway became a Constituent College of the new National University of Ireland, and under a new Charter the name of the College was changed to University College, Galway. In 1929, the College was given a special statutory responsibility under the University College Galway Act in respect of the use of the Irish language as a working language in the College.