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Trinity College & Library

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No matter which direction you stroll in Dublin city, you are sure to pass the imposing gothic walls of the famous Trinity College Dublin. It is both the best university in Ireland (as ranked by international committees) and one of the most popular tourist attractions of Dublin city. It's really not hard to see why.

The 400 year old university was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth of England and modelled after the world famous Oxford and Cambridge universities. Famous students have included Jonathan Swift, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and the former Presidents of Ireland Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese.

The main entrance is from College Green, opposite the former Irish Houses of Parliament, is a small narrow entrance through black wrought iron gates. The intrepid visitor walks along a cobbled passageway and under an archway to arrive into one of many internal squares, surrounded by different faculty buildings. You almost feel like you are in a Harry Potter movie, surrounded by impressive architecture and a quiet, calm atmosphere, while students scurry to learn and advance behind great stone walls. Feel free to lounge on the grass in the sunshine watching both students and tourists alike wander round the campus.

The college occupies a gigantic 47 acres of land, so there is much to see and admire. Each square leads to another, and you can see the tales of time as you move from the antiquarian buildings to the modern blocks. Witty students give guided tours from Mid May to the end of September, except on Sundays, for a nominal charge.

Set within the university grounds is the university Old Library. The Old Library is as old as the university itself, although the current building dates from the 18 th century. Its dusty shelves contain over 5 million volumes, manuscripts, maps and journals of Irish and British works. The Library regularly hosts exhibitions of historical and modern works, its worth checking out in advance what may be on display. Permanently on display are two of Ireland's most historically significant and beautiful bound manuscripts; The Book of Kells and The Book of Durrow, both donated to the Library in the 1660s by the Archbishop of Meath.

Entrance to the Library is via the Library Shop. Have a browse, then advance to the Book of Kells "Turning Darkness into Light" exhibition; which sets the historical context for this marvellous manuscript. From there you must seek out the Treasury of the Library to view the Book of Kells itself. Note that the Book of Kells is encased in a glass cabinet, and only one page is on view every day. Oftentimes visitors may be disappointed at having to queue to see it during busy periods, only to see a single page.

Alternatively you can head upstairs to the fascinating and imposing Long Room, where 200,000 of the Library's oldest books are waiting to be discovered on antique oak bookcases. Marble and plaster busts of significant individuals in the University's history are dotted throughout. It's worth entering this room even for the atmosphere which is humbling while in the presence of genius. Harry Potter eat your heart out! Temporary exhibitions in the Library are usually on display here also.

When you are all tired out, head to the Java City Café in the Arts Block, or if you just want some colour, there is the thought provoking Douglas Hyde Art Gallery at the Nassau Street entrance.

Trinity College and the Old Library are both free to enter.

The college is open year round while the Old Library opening hours are:
Monday - Saturday 09:30 - 17:00
Sunday (May - September) 09:30 - 16:30
Sunday (October - April) 12:00 - 16:30
Bank holidays are open but for shorter hours, please check in advance.
The Old Library is closed from 24 th of December until the 3 rd of January.


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