The college was opened in 1947, with J.W.McKinney as its first Principal. The Irish Methodist Council on Social Welfare feared that post-war emigration from rural Ireland would denude the countryside of its Protestant population. Gurteen House and a farm of c. 300 acres were bought and the buildings adapted to accommodate 44 students. The College soon won a high reputation. It now holds c. 700 acres and welcomes up to 95 students of all denominations. Its board is appointed by the Irish Conference, to which it reports annually. In 2002 the word 'Agricultural' was dropped from the title following the development of other rural study courses.