Located on college green in a historic area of Dublin, Trinity College is an esteemed academic institution that dates all the way back to 1592. Founded by a royal charter, it was established in an era when the first universities were springing up all over Western Europe. These new universities were primarily constructed as a means to educate clergy who would go on to perform important civic functions and they were also seen as a sure-fire way of raising the prestige of a region.
Modelled on England’s historic universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Trinity College is a truly stunning architectural achievement that gives a real sense of history to those who are lucky enough to visit.
And what a history that is! Although the college is now in the very centre of the city, it was originally built outside of the city walls of Dublin, which was first starting to be seen as the capital City of the region in the late sixteenth century. Ever since its founding, Trinity has been Ireland’s scholarly and intellectual hub, and when walking the aisles and corridors you can certainly see how attending an institution of learning so historic and prestigious would be inspirational. The college boasts numerous famous alumni, including artist J.B Yeats and the author of Dracula Bram Stoker. The author of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift, and legendary wit and raconteur Oscar Wilde have also both walked the sacred halls of Trinity in its long life.
The unexpected and somewhat quirky customs and traditions of the college give an idea of its long and prestigious life. For example, it is still officially illegal for a student to walk around Trinity if they are not carrying a sword. But before you run out to your local sword smith, don’t worry, we doubt such rules are strictly enforced nowadays. Technically, students may also demand a glass of wine whilst they sit an exam – that’s one way to get through a stressful exam I suppose!
The jewel of Trinity is its incredible library that is known the world over for its awe-inspiring collection of scholarly books. In fact, this impressive collection that we’ve just mentioned contains a copy of every book that has ever been published in the UK and Ireland. Having said this, most of these are not kept on site as there are millions and millions of them and having them all onsite would prevent visitors from getting inside the door! One book that is kept on site however is a very special one…
The Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is a unique manuscript that’s famous all over the world and is viewed by millions of eager visitors every year. Monks created this ancient manuscript over a thousand years ago, painstakingly by hand in excruciating detail many centuries before the advent of the printing press. It contains the four gospels of the bible and is decorated with stunningly beautiful illustrations covering over six hundred calfskin pages. No other manuscript compares to its rich detail, and it is fascinating to speculate how such a work could be created by the labour of only a small group of monks. It is the Jewel in Trinity’s crown and is considered a great treasure and the finest piece of Celtic art in existence.
Trinity College and The Book of Kells are truly must-see attractions for any visitor that’s interested in immersing themselves in the rich culture of the Celtic homeland.