Trinity College Dublin, only 12 minutes walk from the Horner School, was founded in 1594, under the reign of Elizabeth I and is Ireland’s oldest university. Famous students here have included scientists like Ernest Walton (Nobel prize-winner who split the atom), great statesmen like Edmund Burke and of course writers like Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and Bram Stoker- (author of Dracula). The Museum Building and Dining Hall are both well worth seeing, as is the lovely Front Square and “Campanile” the bell tower) . The only paying-attraction here, and the best known, is the Long Room and Book of Kells (see below). You are free to wander around the campus and all other exterior areas of the college and to enjoy the many fine buildings here, which (today) date from mostly the 18th and 19th century. Our teacher Arran especially recommends you pay a quiet, discreet visit to the wonderful Museum Building. Many art historians consider this to be the finest example of Victorian neo-Gothic revival architecture in the Venetian style anywhere in the world! The entrance of this magical building also has the skeletons of two gigantic Irish Deer from the Ice Age, now long extinct.
The Long Room and the Book of Kells, (both in the old library of Trinity College.) The Book of Kells is an amazing, ancient book of the Gospels, written and made by Irish monks on the Scottish island monastery of Iona, in the 6th century AD. It is decorated with hundreds of illustrations, in the incredibly detailed, richly imaginative and elaborate Celtic style, drawn 1400 years ago by the monastic scribes. There is also an exhibition here, explaining how the work was done.
On the floor above the Book of Kells is the famous “Long Room” the main space for reading and study in the old library. It’s lined with about a quarter of a million, very old books, as well as sculpture busts of famous scientists, statesmen, writers, philosophers and thinkers from history from Homer, Aristotle and Cicero, to William Shakespeare and Isaac Newton. But the real star is the long curved ceiling and the architecture of the room itself, sometimes considered the most beautiful room in Europe.
Illutrations: details of the Long Room. You can see a web article on the famous collection of sculpture busts in the Long Room, written by our teacher Arran, via this link.
The Botanic Gardens, in Glasnevin, contain plant species from around the world, which can be seen walking around a very nice park, bordered by a river. Other exotic and tropical plants like orchids, giant ferns and huge palms are in the beautiful and historic Curvilinear Range – the huge glass palm-house, built by the brilliant Victorian engineer Richard Turner. There are also sometimes sculpture exhibitions in the gardens. See the website for details, opening hours and other information.
Glasnevin Cemetery. Also called “Mount Prospect cemetery” is a gigantic graveyard and is our National Cemetery, (of the Irish State) because since 1828, it’s where many of our most important political and patriotic figures are buried, from Daniel O’Connell and Charles Stuart Parnell, to Éamon de Valera and Michael Collins. Especially spectacular is the family crypt built for the great 19th century Irish leader and statesman Daniel O’Connell, a hero to millions and in his lifetime, “the uncrowned King of Ireland”
You can see a web article about O’Connell, his great achievements and his huge importance to Irish, even international history, by our teacher Arran, via this link. But there are lots of ordinary people buried in Glasnvin too. In fact, there are over 1.5 million! That means there are more people buried in Glasnevin than living Dubliners in the whole city! As you can imagine, that means there are lots of great stories, from martyred nationalist heroes to 19th century grave-robbers, digging up bodies for medical students to dissect! The best way to hear the stories is to take one of the excellent guided tours. These should usually run at 11.30am and 2.30pm everyday, but please always check the website before you visit, for latest news, times and updates. (and in summer it may be advisable to book ahead online). Illustration 1, interior detail, the O’Connell family Crypt and 2- looking up inside the giant Round Tower. Photos: Arran Henderson.
The Casino at Marino. “Casino” in this context- just means “little house” and this amazing building was designed as sort of summer house or place of entertainment, for a very extravagant earl, one James Caufield, earl of Charlemont. It was designed by Sir William Chambers, considered the greatest architect of his generation. (He designed the Front Square of Trinity College and rebuilt Buckingham Palace London for the king of England) But this Casino is usually considered his masterpiece, as well as one of the best, most beautiful and fascinating neo-classical buildings in Europe. You have to visit this place, and listen to a tour, to really understand just how clever and ingenious the building is. But basically it’s a very elegant “box of tricks” since almost everything Chambers built here for Caufield, is a sort of trick or illusion! If you are interested in old architecture, you should definitely go and visit this marvellous, delightful little building. It is not always open everyday, but don’t give up. It’s often open in summer. And if not usually possible to arrange a visit. So check the website to see how and when you can visit. Illustration, interior detail, the Casino at Marino. Photo Arran Henderson.
General blog (articles on history and buildings) at