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Dublin Sights

Trinity College Dublin

  • Educational Institution
  • Fodor's Choice

Updated 09/17/2014

Fodor's Review

Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I to "civilize" (Her Majesty's word) Dublin, Trinity is Ireland's oldest and most famous college. The memorably atmospheric campus is a must; here you can track the shadows of some of the noted alumni, such as Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), Bram Stoker (1847–1912), and Samuel Beckett (1906–89). Trinity College, Dublin (familiarly known as TCD), was founded on the site of the confiscated Priory of All Hallows.

For centuries Trinity was the preserve of the Protestant Church; a free education was offered to Catholics—provided that they accepted the Protestant faith. As a legacy of this condition, until 1966 Catholics who wished to study at Trinity had to obtain a dispensation from their bishop or face excommunication.

Trinity's grounds cover 40 acres. Most of its buildings were constructed in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The extensive West Front, with a classical pedimented portico in the Corinthian style, faces College Green and is directly across from the Bank of Ireland; it was built between 1755 and 1759, and is possibly the work of Theodore Jacobsen, architect of London's Foundling Hospital. The design is repeated on the interior, so the view is the same from outside the gates and from the quadrangle inside. On the lawn in front of the inner facade stand statues of two alumni, orator Edmund Burke (1729–97) and dramatist Oliver Goldsmith (1730–74). On the right side of the cobblestone quadrangle of Parliament Square (commonly known as Front Square) is Sir William Chambers's theater, or Examination Hall, dating from the mid-1780s, which contains the college's most splendid Adamesque interior, designed by Michael Stapleton. The hall houses an impressive organ retrieved from an 18th-century Spanish ship and a gilded oak chandelier from the old House of Commons; concerts are sometimes held here. The chapel, left of the quadrangle, has stucco ceilings and fine woodwork. The looming campanile, or bell tower, is the symbolic heart of the college; erected in 1853, it dominates the center of the square.

The Douglas Hyde Gallery. Trinity College's starkly modern Arts and Social Sciences Building, with an entrance on Nassau Street, houses the Douglas Hyde Gallery of Modern Art, which concentrates on contemporary art exhibitions and has its own bookstore. Also in the building, down some steps from the gallery, is a snack bar serving coffee, tea, and sandwiches, where students willing to chat about life in the old college frequently gather. Nassau St., Dublin 2. 01/896-1116. Free. Mon –Wed. and Fri. 11–6, Thurs. 11–7, Sat. 11–4:45.

Berkeley Library. The Berkeley Library, the main student library at Trinity, was built in 1967 and is named after the philosopher and alumnus George Berkeley. The small open space in front of the library contains a spherical brass sculpture designed by Arnaldo Pomodoro. A very modern, sleek extension dominates the Nassau Street side of the campus. The library is not open to the public. Nassau St., Dublin 2. 01/896–1661. Grounds daily 8 am–10 pm.

Science Gallery. This kid-friendly museum-slash-gallery occupies a funky building at the rear of Trinity College. Its constantly changing exhibitions aim to allow art and science to meet—or collide, as the case may be, with an emphasis on fun and joining in off-the-wall experiments. Makeshop, on nearby Lincoln Place, is the Science Gallery's sister shop with a drop-in area where you can join in daily "pop-up" workshops on anything from robotics to clock making. Pearse St., Dublin 2. 01/896–4091. Free. Hrs vary with each exhibition.

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Sight Information


Trinity College, Dublin, Co. Dublin, Ireland




Updated 09/17/2014


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Apr 1, 2010

Trinity College Review

Just a little correction: The Book of Kells was produced by Irish monks in the Celtic world, NOT the Anglo-saxon!

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Nov 11, 2008

A must

The old and striking campus is reason enough to come here. The Book of Kells is very interesting, though you don't get to see a lot of it "in the flesh," mostly via photographed exhibit reproduction; it's still wonderful even via this method. The Long Room is also great, with huge old tomes, carved busts, an old Irish harp, and interior detail. One of Dublin's must-sees.

By poloso

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Oct 13, 2007

A justifiable top Dublin star

It was interesting to see that the Book of Kells may actually have originated in Iona (ie in Scotland). The Long Room in the library is particularly impressive.

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