Walk the cobbled lanes of Ireland’s oldest university, alma mater to literary greats and home of the precious Book of Kells.
Trinity College, the University of Dublin, is a campus in the city center. Admire the bell tower and stone buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries and view modern art. Learn about famous Irish authors who studied here. Browse the galleries or take a tour to view the relics in the Old Library, with ancient gospels and medieval art exhibits.
Ireland’s oldest university was founded in 1592 on the grounds of a dilapidated monastery. Trinity College weathered many momentous changes that took place in the country, including religious conflicts. It was mainly a university of Protestants, but Roman Catholics could enter from 1793. The satirist Jonathan Swift, who wrote Gulliver’s Travels in 1726, boarded here when he was just 14. A far more dedicated scholar was Oscar Wilde, who excelled in Greek literature and graduated in 1874. Wilde later became famous for the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Women were allowed to study here from 1904. Today, with more than 15,000 students, it is a popular place for further education and research, and one of the top universities in the world.
Enter Front Gate and walk over cobblestoned Front Square. You can’t miss the Campanile, the stand-alone bell tower. Step closer to see that the corner sculptures all represent different sciences. Sign up for a 30-minute guided tour, led by a Trinity College student, to learn about the history, architecture and famous graduates.
View the original 9th-century Book of Kells gospel and other medieval manuscripts in the stately Old Library. Head upstairs to the Long Room with marble busts of alumni, a 15th-century harp, and one of the few surviving copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. Other attractions include the Science Gallery with rotating exhibits, the Douglas Hyde Gallery with contemporary art, and the Geological Museum showcasing rare species.
Trinity College is centrally located on College Green. There are numerous public transport options and it is a stop on Dublin’s hop-on, hop-off bus tour. Entrance to Front Square is free but you pay to enter the library. Paid tours are available on weekends, and some weekdays in summer. There is a café.