We just returned from a whirlwind 11 days in London, Belfast, and Dublin. The stops in London and Belfast were geared mostly at family visits, but Dublin was one and a half days just for us. The top of my to-do list for Dublin was Trinity College (Coláiste na Tríonóide). Founded in 1592 in the old Augustinian Priory of All Hallows, it’s across from the former Parliament houses and has the most beautiful college campus I’ve ever seen.
Trinity College currently houses the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript worth the €10 ticket to see. Trinity’s library does a beautiful job displaying the Book of Kells and making it accessible and interesting for all ages.
In addition to visiting the Book of Kells, we did a brief tour of Trinity’s (lovely) campus, including the College Green, different colleges and residence halls (including number 18, where Oscar Wilde studied during his time at Trinity) and the famous bell tower which only rings somberly for the death of a fellow or during examination time. We also visited the Long Room, which is the closest place to heaven I’ve ever seen. Rows and rows of meticulously arranged books in a beautiful hall with marble busts of Socrates, Milton, Shakespeare, and other brilliant minds.
Centrally located in College Green is a statue of George Salmon, Trinity’s former Provost until 1904. Our wonderful tour guide, a female undergraduate student, told us the story of Provost Salmon with a knowing twinkle in her eye. Salmon begrudgingly allowed the first female students in 1903-1904 after famously saying “over my dead body” to their admittances. A year later the first female student started her education at Trinity and, ironically, Salmon died. Ever since it’s been a yearly tradition for female graduates to put on lipstick for commencement, sit on the statue’s lap and give him a big smooch. His lips are faintly pink thanks to the tradition.
As a female quite easily (with no real barriers due to my gender, that is) pursuing higher education in the United States, the story fascinated and inspired me. I looked into more detail on Provost Salmon and the history of women’s education at Trinity College, and stumbled across this article. Beautifully written and photographed, but heartbreaking, the article details the history of women at Trinity College and notes the struggles still visible today with gender divides and gaps in female faculty, issues most colleges and universities worldwide are working to remedy with inclusive hires.
“All of these efforts bring women and men further toward gender equality in Trinity College, helping our generation of Trinity women live up to the brave and admirable female students who have gone before us.”
All in all, my visit to Trinity College was inspiring. Its rich history is impressive and I’ll remember fondly walking its beautiful grounds and the Long Room. Check out my photos in the gallery below.