Trinity College Dublin

Discover Ireland's Oldest and Most Prestigious University

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity was founded by Queen Elizabeth in 1592 and is Irelands oldest and widely held to be the most prestigious university in Ireland. The Queen commented that it should "civilise Ireland with both learning and the Protestant religion and reform the barbarism of this rude people". The Queen was well-read, but obviously, tact was not her strong point.

Interestingly, while Trinity was unusual in accepting women for degrees as early as 1903, the same facility was not available to Catholics until many years later. Today, in our more enlightened times, Trinity welcomes all religions and genders.

Originally, Trinity College was established outside the city walls in a building that had been an outlawed Catholic Priory. The City has grown to surround Trinity College, opposite the equally beautiful Irish Houses of Parliament with its beautiful Georgian architecture. We highly recommend a private guided tour of Trinity College as part of your Dublin experience. 

Ireland's Oldest University

A brief history of Trinity College

16th-century origins
Trinity College was established in 1592 in the Priory of All Hallows, Dublin. The founders were conscious that many universities were being established in western Europe and particularly aware that England had two long-established universities, Oxford and Cambridge. Thus the idea took root that Ireland should establish a university with the dual objectives of providing both education and cementing the Tudor dynasty objective of establishing Protestantism. One of the first buildings, the Old Library, was started in 1712, followed by the Printing House and Dining Hall.

Surviving conflict
Two events during the 17th Century posed a significant threat to the future of the College. The first was the collapse of central government due to the rising in 1641 and the subsequent subjugation of the Church of Ireland following Oliver Cromwell's (Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland) victories. Cromwell's objective was to eliminate Catholicism. The second event was the collapse of a short-lived government around 1689/91 who closed the College, expelled all the students, and used the buildings as Jacobite barracks. Fortunately, the library escaped damage. Notwithstanding these events, the end of the 17th Century saw the university at an all-time high, with buildings replaced by elegant new ones. 

The 18th Century was a period of political calm. The College flourished, its reputation was growing and with it a substantially increased income. Between (1712 – 32), the authorities of the Trinity instigated a spectacular new library. Other beautiful structures followed with the Printing House (1733-4), the West Front (1752-9), the Dining Hall (1760-65), and the Provosts House (1759-61). These buildings were an indication of the scale of ambition of Trinity College. 

Catholic discrimination
Catholics were allowed to apply for admission in 1793, although some restrictions remained before finally being removed in 1873. However, the Bishops still felt that it had an overwhelming Protestant leaning and banned Catholics from attending. This regulatory discrimination remained the case until 1970.

Dublin's highlights

Trinity College is one of Dublin's most popular attractions in the City. It's important to plan your time carefully with so much to see, and our Travel Designers and guides are on hand to help you. 

The National Museum or Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland is another 'must-see' location. Displays of Ireland's fascinating past include treasured artefacts from prehistoric times, the Viking era, Christian crosses, the Broighter Hoard, the Treasury's biggest collection of gold objects, and much more besides. 

St Patricks Cathedral
St Patricks Cathedral, Ireland's largest Cathedral (300ft long), was founded here in 1190 and was where St Patrick baptised converts to Christianity. It also contains the preacher's pulpit, Jonathan Swift, whose tomb is in the south aisle. 

Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle is one of the most important buildings in Irish history. During your visit to the Castle, you will be walking in the footsteps of some of the world's great and good including Benjamin franklin (1771), four state visits by Queen Victoria (between 1849 – 1900), John F Kennedy (1963), and Queen Elizabeth II (2011)to name but a few.

Christchurch Cathedral
Christchurch Cathedral, founded in 1038, stands out among the buildings on the south bank of the Liffey and is a fine example of Gothic architecture. In a glass case, an unusual exhibit is a cat and mouse around 120 years old. The cat was chasing the mouse through the organ's pipes, where both became stuck with the mouse just inches from the cat's paws. 

Kilmainham Gaol
A tour of Kilmainham Gaol is an experience not to be missed. Opened in 1796, it is a national monument. This cold place with its dark corridors and four tiny cold cells was thought to be a model prison. Those held here included sheep stealers, debtors, murders, and prostitutes. Famine victims also ended up here having committed petty crimes to be given regular meals of thin prison gruel. It's an experience that sets you thinking and sheds light on the historical conditions and times that Ireland endured. 

Touring and accommodation
Our Tour Designers will suggest a private guided tour of National Museum of Ireland and Dublin City based on your interests and preferred pace of travel and time available. We have tour guides with specialist knowledge and those with the personality to work well with families – be enlightened and entertained on a private guided tour of Ireland

Dublin is blessed with a fair number of beautiful hotels with friendly, welcoming staff. The Westbury Dublin is probably in the most desirable location in the centre of all the action and short stroll to all attractions. The Westin Dublin Hotel is also central and close to the River Liffey. Enjoy the elegance of the stunning Merrion Hotel in the historic Georgian quarter of the city. The Shelbourne Hotel is another favourite for International visitors and should be considered.

The Pride of Dublin

See one of the finest libraries in the world

  • Private Guided Tours Available
  • See the Book of Kells
  • See the Long Room (Library)