Queen Elizabeth I founded Trinity College, Dublin’s oldest and most famous educational institution, in 1592. Originally a Protestant college, it only began to take Catholics Church relaxed its opposition to them attending. Among Trinity’s many famous students were the playwrights Oliver Goldsmith and Samuel Beckett, and the political writer Edmund Burke. The college’s lawns and cobbled quads provide a pleasant haven in the heart of the city. The major attractions are the Old Library and the Books of Kells, housed in its treasury.
THE BOOK OF KELLS
The most richly decorated of Ireland’s medieval illuminated manuscripts, the Book of Kells may have been the work of monks from the island of Iona in Scotland, who fled to Kells in County Meath in 806 after a Viking raid. The book, which was moved to Trinity College (Old Library Treasury) in the 17th century, contains the four Gospels in Latin. The scribes who copied the text embellished their calligraphy with intricate, interlacing spirals, as well as human figures and animals. Some of the dyes used in the manuscript were imported from as far away as the Middle East. The monogram page is the most elaborate page in the book, and contains the first three words of St. Mattew’s acconut of the birth of Christ.
Since its foundation, Trinity has cultivated many distinguished writer and historical figures. Their time here had a discernable impact on their lives. Among the most outstanding graduates are the writers and dramatists Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, William Congreve and Samuel Beckett; the philosopher George Berkeley; the statesman and political philosopher Edmund Walton; Ireland’s first president, Douglas Hyde; and Ireland’s first female president, Mary Robinson. Statues of its famous scholars stand throughout the college.
Trinity College stands on what was once part of the grounds of All Hallows monastery. The wood-tiled archway at the main entrance leads to Trinity’s main quadrangle (Parliament Square). Fine green lawns and an array of splendid 18th and 19th century buildings characterize the cobbled square. An imposing centerpiece (Campanile) marks the original site of the monastery. The chapel was designed by Sir William Chambers in 1798. Beside it is the Dining Hall, build by Richard Castle in 1742, where Trinity’s students eat. This building has been considerably altered over the past 250 years, particularly after a fire in 1984 that caused severe damage. Its walls are hung with huge portraits of college dignitaries.
This was the first university chapel in the Republic to accept all denominations. The painted window above the altar is from 1867.
Statue of Edmund Burke (1868) by John Foley
The 100-ft (30-m) bell tower was built in 1853 by Sir Charles Lanyon, architect of Queen’s University in Belfast.
Completed in 1857, this is notable for its Venetian exterior, and its magnificent multicolored hall and double-domed roof.
Sphere within Sphere
This sculpture (1982) was given to the college by its creator, Arnaldo Pomodoro.
Berkeley Library Building (1967) by Paul Koralek
Douglas Hyde Gallery
This was built in the 1970s to house temporary art exhibitions.
Marble bust of the author Jonathan Swift in the Old Library
The library’s main chamber, the splendid Long Room (1732), measures 210 ft (64 m). it houses 200,000 antiquarian texts, marble busts of scholars, and Ireland’s oldest harp.
Old Library Treasury
This detail is from the 7th-century Book of Durrow, one of the other magnificent illuminated manuscripts housed in the Old Library’s treasury, along with the celebrated Book of Kells.
The red-brick building (known as the Rubrics) on the east side of Library Square was built around 1700 and is the oldest surviving part of the college.
SAMUEL BECKETT (1906-89)
Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett was born at Foxrock, south of Dublin. In 1923, he entered Trinity, and later graduated with a first in modern languages and a gold medal. He was also an avid member of the college cricket team. Forsaking Ireland, Beckett moved to France in the early 1930s. Many of his majhor works, such as Waiting for Godot (1951), were written in French, and later translated by the author into English.
THE DOUGLAS HYDE GALLERY
Situated in the Trinity College grounds, this is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary arts venues. Exhibits feature film, painting, installation and sculpture work by emerging as well as recognized artists.
1592: Trinity College is founded on the site of All Hallows monastery.
c. 1661: The medieval Book of Kells is given to Trinity by the Bishop of Meath.
1689: This college is temporarily turned into a barracks.
1712-61: A building drive results in the creation of the Old Library and the Dinning Hall.
1793: Religious restrictions on entry are abolished.
1853: The campanile is erected and becomes a symbol of Trinity College.
1987: Restoration of the Dinning Hall, damaged during a fire in 1984, takes place.