In spite of the decree in it’s Royal Charter the “College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity near Dublin founded by the most serene Queen Elizabeth” was never a name that was going to roll off the tongue. It should be of no surprise then that the college is called by other names; Trinity College Dublin, TCD, Trinity and University of Dublin to name a few. Founded in 1592 it occupied the former monastery buildings of the Priory of All Hallows; a victim in 1538 of the Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It quickly established itself as the university of the Protestant Ascendancy if, for no other reason, than because Roman Catholics were barred under the Penal Laws. This bar was not lifted until 1793 when the movement towards Catholic emancipation brought a change but was, in effect, immediately re-imposed by the Catholic church with the threat of excommunication to any Catholics becoming a student.

In this Diocese, it is reserved to the Archbishop to decide in what circumstances the attendance of a Catholic at Trinity College may be tolerated. Attendance may be tolerated only for grave and valid reasons and with the addition of definite measures, by which it is sought adequately to safeguard the faith and practice of a Catholic student.
Canon 1374, Code of Canon Law. Statutes 385, 404. §1, Plenary Synod of Maynooth, 1927.

05 Trinity College, March 1793
Malton’s “Trinity College, March 1793”
The ban would stay in effect until 1970 when Roman Catholics students would no longer need permission from the Bishops to enter the college via the West Front of 1751. There is some debate as regards who designed this front – Henry Keene and John Sanderson were believed to be the architects but it’s also possible that it was Theodore Jacobsen; certainly his East India House in London bares a resemblance. Nevertheless the building is not quite as any of these men intended.  It was supposed to have been crowned with a large copper cupola flanked with two smaller ones to either side. These were removed from the design on the observation that such would not be found in any building in Italy.

Although the buildings of TCD were originally outside of the city walls the enlarging of the city and the changes during the Georgian period saw the north-south axis shift eastwards and today the West Front intersects the current axis of O’Connell Street / Grafton street making it arguably the center of Dublin city.

05 Trinity College
magnify-clipWest Front, Trinity College, 2013

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