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Trinity College

A Seat of Protestant Learning

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin

© Bernd Biege 2014

The Bottom Line

Ireland's first university, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, tops my list of the ten most recommended sights of Dublin from every perspective. The magnificent campanile must be one of the most-photographed buildings in Dublin. And the Old Library is home to one of the most famous books on earth, the splendid "Book of Kells".

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  • Oldest and most charming university in Ireland.
  • Convenient and dominating location in Dublin's city center.
  • Home of the "Book of Kells" and the "Book of Durrow".


  • Long queues to see "Book of Kells" in summer.
  • Entrance fee to Old Library often criticized as expensive.


  • Founded in 1592 on the lands of a dispossessed Augustinian monastery as a "seat of Protestant learning".
  • Oldest buildings date from around 1700 - the red-brick Rubrics.
  • Old Library houses more 200,000 antiquarian texts, the "Book of Kells" and the oldest Irish harp.

Guide Review - Trinity College (Dublin)

Upon finding Trinity College next to Dublin City's busiest (and permanently clogged) intersection most visitors go "Ah ... this is it?" The façade of the Bank of Ireland right across the road is more imposing, true. But the classical view of Trinity College is actually hidden behind the small wooden doors that are the original entrance. Pass through them and you will see the glorious campanile, built by Charles Lanyon, in front of the old Rubrics. This is the view that launched a thousand postcards!

You are now in Parliament Square. The red-brick Rubrics are the oldest buildings here (with the Dutch gables being a later addition), the Examination Hall and the Chapel are exact mirror images of each other.

Signs will guide you towards "The Book of Kells", or rather the Old Library, the entrance is in Fellow's Square. The building is another of Trinity's favorite postcard views. 200,000 antiquarian books, busts of writers and philosophers and "Brian Boru's Harp" (which, contrary to its name, is considerably less than a thousand years old) are in the collection and on display. Pride of place, however, goes to the magnificent "Book of Kells", an illuminated edition of the gospels and arguably the most famous book on earth.

Be warned: You will only see two pages of the book, on display behind glass. Whether the usually long wait and the high entrance fee are worth it is ultimately your decision. I would recommend signing up for a guided tour at the entrance, this will give you a good overview and includes the admission to the Old Library. And if you would actually like to look at the Book of Kells up close - the museum in Kells (County Meath) has an excellent replica!


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