Trinity College Dublin

Teach Through Educational Travel: Trinity College Dublin

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Trinity College Dublin, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth, is the oldest university in Ireland. Many famous writers graduated from Trinity College, including Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), playwright Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest), playwright Oliver Goldsmith (She Stoops to Conquer), playwright Samuel Becket (Nobel Prize for Literature), and Eion Colfer (Artemis Fowl series, book 6 of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). Where might all these literary greats have studied? The Library, of course!
The Trinity College Library is the largest library in Ireland, and holds many extraordinary treasures (and over 4 million books!). It is a copyright library, which means it holds the legal deposit rights (and can claim a copy) for everything published in Ireland (it also holds such rights for the UK). The Trinity College Library holds the famous, ancient, beautiful Book of Kells, as well as the Book of Durrow and the Book of Armagh. The most recognizable aspect of the Library is the Long Room (pictured here). The Long Room (71 yards long!) was built between 1712-1732, and holds the library’s oldest books. As time went on, there were too many books, so in 1860 the roof was raised and an upper gallery was built to house them.
Teach Through Educational Travel


  • So, the Book of Kells. It’s an ancient book, beautifully illustrated, that has captured the attention of the world. The unfinished manuscript contains, in Latin, the four Gospels of the New Testament. While the exact creation dates are unknown, it is thought to have been started in the 560s in a monastery on Iona, a Scottish island. After a Viking raid, some of the monks (and their holy relics, including the Book) found refuge in the monastery at Kells, Ireland, and continued working on it there. The book is illuminated (illustrated) in a variety of colors – the art and workmanship is exquisite. Have you seen the movie The Secret of Kells? It’s a fun glimpse into what may have been the story behind the Book of Kells. Head to the Book of Kells online or on your ipad, and look through it. What draws your eye? Did you notice that some of the art shows through the pages? Look at pages 256 and 257. What do you think time has done, to the calf vellum that it was created on?
  • The Long Room is an extraordinary library, housing so many books, in such a beautiful setting – dark wooden shelves, ladders, windows streaming in light. Another famous feature of the Long Room is the collection of 48 marble busts of famous philosophers and writers. When you first walk into the Long Room, it might seem familiar – it was the inspiration for the Jedi Library in Star Wars Episode II, and also for the library in Harry Potter. Read this traveler’s account of her time in the Trinity College Library. Do you love libraries? Discuss why libraries have been important, though the ages – and why it is important for us to remember and celebrate the printed word, in this digital age.
  • Trinity College Library has many exhibitions going on, from the Book of Kells to ever-changing exhibits. Take a look at the blog for Trinity College Library, and peruse through some of the latest exhibits, including children’s books, the anatomy of the brain, birds, and the moon. If you were in charge of exhibits at Trinity College Library, how would you choose from the enormous amount of books, to share with visitors? How would you decide what is important? And how would you balance the tasks of spreading knowledge and book conservation? Obviously, some of those books are so old that handling might destroy them.



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