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PhD - Centre for Gender and Women's Studies - Trinity College Dublin


Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

  • Country: Ireland
  • Level: Research
  • Mode: On Campus
  • Fees: IRE 11,895.00
  • Medium: Full Time
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About this College
Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


Trinity College Dublin was created by royal charter in 1592, at which point Dublin Corporation provided a suitable site, the former Priory of All Hallows. Its foundation came at a time when many universities were being established across western Europe in the belief that they would give prestige to the state in which they were located and that their graduates, clergy for the most part, would perform a vital service as civil administrators. By the 1590s England had two longestablished universities, each with an expanding group of colleges, and Scotland four. The idea of a university college for Ireland emerged at a time when the English state was strengthening its control over the kingdom and when Dublin was beginning to function as a capital city. The group of citizens, lay and clerical, who were main promoters of the scheme believed that the establishment of a university was an essential step in bringing Ireland into the mainstream of European learning and in strengthening the Protestant Reformation within the country. The organisational design of the new institution was influenced by Oxford, Cambridge and continental precursors, but from the beginning it was an autonomous corporation governed by ‘provost and fellows’, committed to teaching and to scholarship, the first and (as it turned out) only college of the degree-awarding University of Dublin. The College site, lying some distance east of the small walled city, was far larger than the small community of fellows and students required, and the first brick buildings of the 1590s occupied only a small part of what is now Front Square. But from the beginning the College’s library was a priority, and the energy with which early Trinity scholars (notably Luke Challoner and James Ussher) assembled the initial collections of books marked Trinity out from other sixteenth-century foundations. Many of its early graduates, well grounded in philosophy and theology, proceeded to clerical ordination in the state church, the Anglican Church of Ireland. During the next fifty years the community grew: endowments, including landed estates, were secured, new fellowships founded, a curriculum devised and statutes determining internal governance were framed. The international reputation of Ussher, one of its first alumni, helped place the College on the European map. But its existence was gravely threatened at two points in the seventeenth century, first when central government collapsed in the wake of the 1641 rising, followed by the temporary eclipse of the Church of Ireland in the wake of Cromwell’s victories; secondly, with the roller-coaster events of 1689/91, when Tyrconnell’s short-lived Catholic government closed the university, expelled the fellows and students, and converted the buildings into a Jacobite barracks. The library however was spared. Despite such dramatic interruptions, the College had become a much more substantial institution by the end of the seventeenth century. Many of the early buildings had recently been replaced, and a number of the fellows, notably William Molyneux and St. George Ashe were centrally involved in the Dublin Philosophical Society, a small body that was closely in touch with the ‘new learning’ in London. The following century was an era of political stability in Ireland, thanks to the firm monopoly on political power held by the land-owning and largely Church of Ireland upper class, and the College was in material terms a great beneficiary from this state of affairs: its landed income grew very substantially in the course of the century and it enjoyed the recurring patronage of the Irish parliament across College Green, evident in the scale and quality of its new buildings. The first structure dating from this era was a massive new library (1712-32), initiated while George Berkeley, another celebrated alumnus of the College, was librarian; its size, far greater than then required, reflected long-sighted enlightenment ambitions, and it was followed by a string of other classical buildings on the western half of the campus: the Printing House (1733-4), the West Front (1752-9), the Dining Hall (c.1760-65), and the Provost’s House (1759-61). During the second half of the century Parliament Square slowly emerged, shaped by the Public Theatre (1777-86) and the new Chapel (1787-98), which were designed from afar by George III’s architect, Sir William Chambers. The great building drive was completed in the early nineteenth century by the residential quadrangles of Botany Bay and New Square.
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