About The Phil

Oldest Student Society

Dating back to 1683 The University Philsophical Society is the worlds oldest student society

About The Phil

The University Philosophical Society, (aka The Phil), is Trinity College’s premier student society. Founded in the 17th century, initially as a paper-reading society for the “discourse of philosophy, mathematics, and other polite literature”, the society has since evolved to incorporate a wider range of activities in modern times.
The Phil offers students of Trinity College the chance to relax or study in Ireland’s only student-owned building (The Graduates Memorial Building) and organises parties, fund-raisers and events for its members, while still retaining its long and proud tradition of debating and oratory.
The Phil’s weekly house debates, held every Thursday evening during term time, allow both students and guest speakers to offer their opinions on a host of topical issues. Guests from around the world come to speak at these events, and the intimate style of the debates offers students a unique opportunity to test their wits against politicians, journalists and religious leaders.
Every year, a few select individuals are named Honorary Patrons of the Society. The Phil is proud and delighted to host its Honorary Patrons in Dublin while they address the Society on the achievements that have led them to be recognised with the award. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Senator John McCain and Dame Helen Mirren have all received this exceptional honour and there is a more thorough list of recipients elsewhere on the Honorary Patrons page.
The Phil continues to have an active role in competitive debating, with student representatives attending contests around the world. The Society’s regular in-house debating workshops and oratory training helps bolster the confidence of novice speakers, and our highly-regarded ‘Phil Speaks Initiative’ provides secondary school pupils across Ireland, with the opportunity to develop public speaking skills.
With alumni including John B. Yeats, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde, the Society has a long and unique history, and strives to develop and expand whilst respecting its historic student roots.