EDU Secretary-General visits Trinity College Dublin

For the Secretary-General of an Intergovernmental Organization promoting Education, no visit to the Emerald Isle would be complete without a visit to its most famous centre of Academic Excellence. Accordingly His Excellency Irving Le-Vance was delighted to be received by the Arts and Humanities Research Institute of Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin. 

Trinity College was formally known as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin. It is the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin in Ireland. The college was founded in 1592 as the "mother" of a new university and was modeled after the collegiate universities of Oxford and of Cambridge. However, only one college was ever established and so the designations "Trinity College" and "University of Dublin" are practically synonymous. It is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland and it is Ireland's oldest university. 

Trinity College offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across 24 schools and three faculties: arts, humanities, and social sciences; engineering, mathematics and science; and health sciences. It is spread across 47 acres in Dublin's city centre and Trinity's 17,000-strong student body comes from all 32 counties of Ireland with 16% of students come from outside the country. 

During a fascinating tour, His Excellency visited most parts of the educational establishment including privileged access to the Old Library where photography is normally highly restricted.

The main chamber of the Old Library is the Long Room, and at nearly 65 metres in length, it is filled with 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books. When built (between 1712 and 1732) it had a flat plaster ceiling and shelving for books was on the lower level only, with an open gallery. By the 1850s these shelves had become completely full; largely as since 1801 the Library had been given the right to claim a free copy of every book published in Britain and Ireland. In 1860 the roof was raised to allow construction of the present barrel-vaulted ceiling and upper gallery bookcases. 

Marble busts line the Long Room, a collection that began in 1743 when 14 busts were commissioned from sculptor Peter Scheemakers. The busts are of the great philosophers and writers of the western world and also of men connected with Trinity College - famous and not so famous. The finest bust in the collection is of the writer Jonathan Swift by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

His Excellency enjoyed seeing exhibits in the Faculty of Engineering as well as the famous ‘Sfera con sfera’ by by Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro.

The 'Pomodoro sphere', as it is known locally, was generously donated by the artist with support from the College and Italian organizations. Other similar works exploring this spherical format are on display at locations such as the United Nations plaza in New York, the University of California at Berkeley where the artist lectured for a period, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome, and the Cortile del Belvedere at The Vatican Museums - the latter being the most similar but twice the size of the Trinity sculpture. This sculpture underwent a major conservation project in 2008 which brought the surface of the piece back to its original condition while also restoring its complex sub-structure and pivot.

The Secretary-General of EDU paid particular thanks to Dr. Caitriona Curtis of the Arts and Humanities Research Institute for her kind assistance in making his visit to Trinity College Dublin so enjoyable. Caitriona has a PhD in Modern Irish History. Her research has provided the first comprehensive study of state policy towards the agricultural worker in early independent Ireland including comparisons with jurisdictions in Northern Ireland, England and Wales.

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