7 impressive facts you might not know about Trinity College Dublin

By Lily Martin• Last updated: Feb 8, 2024
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As Ireland’s oldest higher education institution, Trinity College Dublin is home to a wealth of history and facts. It is also one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland, as well as Ireland’s oldest university.

Here, we explore everything the ancient and prestigious university has to offer, from the Book of Kells, its campanile and the urban legends surrounding it.

1. Trinity College Dublin has plenty of famous alumni

With over 400 years of history, it’s unsurprising that Trinity has produced an assortment of impressive and successful alumni. From the arts, the university has been home to actors Allen Leech, Aisling Bea, Dominic West and Ruth Negga. The CEOs of Qantas, Aer Lingus, Ryanair and British Airways also count themselves amongst the institution’s alumni.

Writers Sally Rooney, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, Eoin Colfer and Bram Stoker all also walked it’s hallowed halls, alongside scientists Robert Mallet, Caroline Hussey, Suzanne O’Sullivan and George Johnstone Stoney.

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2. The Book of Kells

One of the most famous books in the world, the Book of Kells is a Gospel Book from the 9th century and is housed at Trinity College Dublin’s famous library.

The manuscript is made from 340 leaves made of vellum, with the inscriptions in iron gall ink. On its pages, alongside the Latin texts, are many full-page drawings of animals and portraits in vibrant colours.

Students at the university also have the privilege of being able to view the book for free!

3. The architecture is incredible and world-renowned

The university’s campus is full of stunning historical buildings and world-renowned architecture. It is a tranquil space with a collegiate atmosphere, much like the universities of Cambridge and Oxford. 

Some of the most beautiful buildings on campus include the Graduates Memorial Building, Museum Bilding and the Rubrics.

Check the Virtual tour of Trinity College Dublin

4. The university’s history is impressive

The university was founded back in 1592, when Elizabeth I of England was on the throne. That means it has witnessed civil war, revolution and the unification of Great Britain and independence, as well as nearly 20 rulers.

The college was also visited by Queen Victoria in 1900, and women were first admitted in 1904!

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5. The Campanile is iconic

The Campanile of Trinity College Dublin is an iconic part of the Dublin skyline. It is a bell tower, first donated by the Archbishop of Armagh and was finished in 1853.

College tradition and superstition states that any student who passes under the campanile when the bell tolls will fail their exams. This means that many students avoid walking beneath it until graduation day!

6. There are also plenty of interesting urban legends

Trinity is home to some pretty cool urban legends too, stemming back hundreds of years. Legend has it that there’s an underground wine cellar under the college’s front square, which a select few students gain entry to each year on the night of the Trinity Ball.

Another legend states that part of the college’s uniform included carrying a sword, and students could be fined for not carrying it on them. Apparently this rule was never dropped, although today carrying a sword on campus would definitely be considered illegal.

7. Trinity College Library is one of the most incredible in the world

Trinity College Library is unbelievably beautiful and is home to the Book of Kells and the Brian Boru harp, which is the national symbol of Ireland. It also houses a copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

As a copyright library, it has over seven million volumes and acts as the legal deposit for the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Interested in studying in Ireland? Explore more reasons to study abroad in Ireland and what Ireland has to offer international students on our website.

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