Trinity College Dublin
We’re back with the university spotlight turned to another part of the country, from Limerick to…Dublin! Ireland’s largest city also happens to house its top-ranked university: Trinity College Dublin (it’s also, impressively, ranked 101st in the world—or 43rd according to another report!) Technically the second university founded in Ireland (The Medieval University of Dublin, established in 1320, only lasted 200 years or so,) it’s currently Ireland’s oldest surviving university!
Founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592, it was intended to be Ireland’s version of Cambridge or Oxford and the connection remains today—its sister schools are still St. John’s College at Cambridge and Oriel’s College at Oxford. In fact, a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Cambridge University, or Oxford University can be awarded a comparable degree at the other two without further examination. TCD’s libraries house 7 million volumes, including original manuscripts of historical significance like The Book of Kells (it’s been there since 1661 where it was placed for safekeeping from political upheaval.) It should be no surprise that the library is considered one of Europe’s most beautiful to this day, and remains the largest in Ireland. The school was only open to Protestant students until 1793, and admitted its first female student in 1904—though now its doors are open to any and all who apply.
Well, that’s not strictly true—Trinity is a top school with strict academic standards to match. Admissions at TCD rely purely on a student’s academic merits, with no other considerations made. As we’ve discussed in previous posts about secondary education in Ireland, students are admitted to a specific course of study…and with 18,000 students enrolled in 23 schools and 400 courses in graduate, and post-graduate level study, there’s plenty of programs to apply to—all top of their field! However, the most competitive and well-regarded programs at Trinity are law, humanities, and literature. It’s no wonder that some of Ireland’s greatest literary minds have degrees from Trinity, including the likes of Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, William Congreve, Samuel Beckett (a Nobel Laureate to boot,) and Sally Rooney—just to name a few (and we didn’t even get to the politicians!)
When TCD was founded and originally built it was located slightly outside the city, but as time passed and Dublin grew, it grew around the university. Now, Trinity is the heart of the city and students have all the perks of city life coupled with the perks of student life! Trinity’s campus is built in such a way to make students feel that they have a tranquil space in the midst of the bustling city around them—with most buildings facing inward toward beautifully manicured quads. While the campus is 47 acres, the huge number of societies (120+) and sports clubs (50+) brings the student body together, as well as the many Trinity traditions (and their good-natured rivalry and “colour wars” with University College Dublin!) Trinity continues to follow the Oxbridge example with (at least) two other traditions: their formal dining for scholars (top students with special privileges) in Commons (with prayers in Latin and full wait staff) and the elaborate event for all students, but especially those graduating, known as the Trinity Ball (click the link to learn more, but it’s Europe’s biggest private party with approximately 7,000 attendees!)
Ranked 17th in the world for international students, Trinity has students and staff from over 120 countries (with 28% of students from outside of Ireland!) Worried about visas? TCD makes sure to give graduating undergraduates the option to remain in Ireland for 1-2 years of postgraduate studies or work experience within Ireland, which they help arrange. If this leads to full time employment, the US-Ireland Working Holiday agreement helps US students on their way to a more secure work permit! For a US-based student, Trinity is an excellent pathway to making Ireland, the UK, or Europe as more permeant home (sorry, parents! Just reporting the facts.)
A school with a 400-year history is pretty difficult to sum up in a blog post, but the long and short of Trinity College Dublin is this: if you want to study it, Trinity is a pretty wonderful place to do so. Definitely meant for the most academically ambitious students across the globe, TCD balances collegiate tradition with cutting edge scholarship, but doesn’t skimp on the regular college experiences. But we’ve only covered two of Ireland’s seven universities…keep an eye on the blog for more, coming soon!
This post is part of a series. Read our last Modern Ireland post, full of middle grade book recommendations, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
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