Trinity College has ranked as one of top 100 universities in the world, but it’s more than just your average university, it’s one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions too!
People come from near and far both to study in Ireland’s most prestigious college and to see some fascinating treasures which lie behind its historic facade. Read on to find out what attracts half a million visitors to this college each year…
A brief history…
The first brick of Ireland’s oldest university was put down in 1592 under Queen Elizabeth’s reign. It’s said that she built the college to keep young Protestant scholars in the Pale and prevent them from going to Europe and discovering the Roman Catholicism.
Since then, the college has witnessed many of Ireland’s historic events. While the 18th and 19th centuries were generally quiet and peaceful eras, 20th century Ireland saw a huge divide come between Ireland and Great Britain. This lead to very turbulent times as the Irish nationalists fought the British for Irish freedom. Trinity, a protestant college at the time, was looked down upon by many of these freedom fighters and often got caught in the crossfire.
Trinity College was also a leading pioneer when it came to women gaining third level education. The first female enrolled in Trinity – or Trinners, as students past and present know it – in 1904. This was very controversial at the time as you can only imagine!
Famous students to have past through it doors include famous playwrights such as Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, J.M Synge and Bram Stoker. Other famous figures include revolutionaries Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone and George Berkeley – a famous philosopher.
Where to find it…
Trinity College Dublin boasts a prime located – right in the heartbeat of Dublin city centre! It’s located at College Green, which can be found at the junction of Grafton Street, Dame Street and Westmoreland Street. You won’t have any problem finding the college as it’s a magnificent piece of architecture which does manage to stand out at this busy junction. You’ll probably recognise the building instantly by the crowds of visitors and students going through the archway – the main entrance to the college.
Spread out over 40 acres, the campus is always thronged with both students and visitors alike. The campus differentiates itself from other colleges with its cobbled squares and numerous green areas. Each building within the campus symbolises the different transformations that have taken place in the college over the last three centuries.
What to see…
Now, onto the exciting stuff! The easiest way to become familiar with the campus itself is by taking a walking tour of the campus. These are given by students who will try to provide you with as much information as possible, including an accurate account of Trinity’s past, a history of the Campus buildings, and interesting anecdotes about its most famous graduates. You can also ask the students about their Trinity experience and why they chose to study there, about its nightlife and its famous end of year, open air, ball! If you’re interested in taking an escorted tour just book one inside the main gate of the college. You can avail of the tours from mid- April to early October with the first tour starting at 10.15am and every 40 minutes after that.
The college boasts some superb historic attractions like the cobbled Parliament Square, the Campanile and the Dining Hall. The Chapel (to the left) and Examination Hall (to the right) are bound to catch your eye as you enter the main archway.
The most popular part of the college is the Old Library – and you know you’ve arrived here when you see the crowds of visitors flocking to see one of the country’s top attractions – the world renowned Book of Kells.
The Book of Kells
The Book of Kells was written about 800AD, which makes it one of the oldest books in the world!
The beautiful manuscript is a richly decorated copy of the four gospels in Latin, which is thought to have been made by monks on the island of Iona. The script is inflated by the elaboration of key words and phrases and by a creative range of decorated initials and drawings.
For conservation reasons, the script has been divided into four separate volumes, with two of these usually on show – one highly decorated page and one highly scripted page.
When you have finished admiring the Book of Kells, check out some more interesting features in the Long Room of the Old Library – where you’ll see the oldest harp in Ireland (dating to about 1400), and an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation of Independence. And if you still haven’t had enough of cultural stimulation why not pop into the Oscar Wilde Centre, the Samuel Beckett Theatre or the Douglas Hyde Gallery.
So the next time you find yourself in Ireland’s charming capital city, put a visit to Trinity College at the top of your list and see the Book of Kells for yourself – one of the Ireland’s most precious medieval treasures.
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If you’ve been to see the Book of Kells, let us know how you got on! And if you’ve any queries about the the University or about Dublin itself, just drop us a line in the comment box below and we’ll get back to you straight away!