The oldest college in Ireland is a magical step back in time, situated on a peaceful, picturesque campus in the middle of Dublin City. Its famous alumni include
- Oscar Wilde
- Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels
- Bram Stoker, author of Dracula
- Samuel Beckett
- Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland
A Brief History
The college was built on the site of the former All Hallow's priory, which was disbanded and replaced by the Protestant bastion founded by Queen Elizabeth in 1592. Her aim in creating the school was to "civilize" Dublin and its residents. From Trinity's beginnings until 1966, Catholics who attended risked excommunication unless they were granted a special dispensation from the Church. Although Trinity offered them a free education, it was contingent upon acceptance of the Protestant faith.
Today, Trinity's students and staff come from many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds -- a reflection of wider Irish society, which has changed markedly in recent decades.
Points of Interest
The majority of the imposing buildings currently standing on campus were erected in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The oldest, Rubrics, is constructed of red brick in contrast with the other granite structures, and was built around 1690. It currently provides student and faculty housing, and sits at the back of Parliament square (also known as Front Square), an 18th century quadrangle made of cobblestone. Also located on the square:
- Sir William Chambers' Theatre (mid 1870's) - the location of periodic concerts, this building displays an 18th century organ obtained from a Spanish ship and an extraordinary chandelier.
- The Chapel - also designed by William Chambers, which contains excellent woodwork and a painted window from 1867. It is the only interdenominational chapel in Ireland.
- The Campanile - this distinctive bell tower has occupied the center of the square since 1853.
- The Old Library houses numerous treasures, the most famous of which is the Book of Kells.
The Book of Kells
One of Ireland's biggest visitor attractions, the Book of Kells is recognised worldwide as a medieval masterpiece. The magnificently illuminated manuscript was created in the 9th century by a group of monks, followers of St. Columba who fled to Kells in County Meath to escape persecution on the island of Iona. Read more about the Book of Kells
Other Treasures of the Old Library
The library also features a 7th century book of Gospels from County Offaly known as the Book of Durrow, and the Book of Armagh, a New Testament from the 9th century that includes St. Patrick's confession. The Long Room of the library at Trinity College is truly awe-inspiring. It contains 200,000 volumes, is 42 feet wide and 213 feet long, with a vaulted ceiling and gallery bookcases. The royal arms of Elizabeth I are displayed above the entrance. They represent the only remaining furnishings from the original college buildings.