Past Pupil

When you were younger, you liked Front Square best: the Campanile; the columns and inscriptions; the symmetry of its architecture. You even liked the cobblestones; forgave their ankle-twisting tendencies.

You enjoyed how busy the square could be: tourists queuing to see the Book of Kells; students heading to lectures. All that culture and learning! You’d sit on the chapel steps (cool, wide steps); fantasize about prolonging your studies, enrolling in another class.

Now, you skip through Front Square, barely give it a look. It’s still beautiful (of course it is), but you prefer the quieter corners of campus: the hidden gardens, the benches under the trees.

(You like the cricket grounds on Sunday, too, before the game starts, before the pick, pack, pock of the ball.)

At weekends, you wander through the campus, glad of lawns that soften stone, walls that screen city noise.

In New Square, you  pay your respects to the Oriental planes; two gnarled and blistered friends who’ve kept each other company through the centuries. Nearby, beside the rugby pitch, London planes grow patiently. A hundred and seventy years old already, they could live for another hundred.

At the Physic Garden, you pause to identify some of the plants. Thyme and sage are easy, but you see purple coneflowers and leopard’s bane too. Nowadays, you’re interested in the link between plants and medicine, curious about the role of nature in healing. You never thought about these things when you were younger. You were convinced answers were found in books.

No wonder you found your way here when you were eighteen, to study at the home of the world’s most beautiful book.

No wonder you studied history. The college was founded in 1592.

You’re glad you made those choices now. Not because you remember much of what you studied. (You don’t.)

But because you learned how much there is to know.



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tcdblog3Trinity College is the sole constituent college of Ireland’s oldest university, the University of Dublin. Founded in 1625 by Elizabeth 1st, the college was associated with the Protestant Ascendancy for much of its history. Today, 16,000 students from approximately 90 countries study at Trinity.

The main campus occupies 47 acres in Dublin city. It comprises several building-lined quadrangles known as ‘squares’, playing fields, and the Long Library, home to the Book of Kells.

Famous graduates include Nobel laureates Samuel Beckett and Earnest Walton; playwright Oscar Wilde, and satirist Jonathan Swift. 

The college is a popular tourist destination and can be busy at times. Sunday mornings are quieter. If you time your visit right, you might even hear the choir as you pass the chapel.

About Aileen Hunt

I write nonfiction: essays, memoir, and prose poetry, as well as shorter, more humorous pieces. I embarrass my family regularly. I’m interested in how we respond to place, how it affects our sense of identity and wellbeing. I try to pay attention to my surroundings, to look at them carefully and respectfully. I want to feel at home wherever I live. I’m a Dubliner, through and through, but I have a soft spot for the West of Ireland. Who doesn’t?
This entry was posted in May 2013 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Past Pupil

  1. Roy McCarthy says:

    I walked by Trinity most days for two years and only once wandered in. One rarely reads any Dublin history without Trinity playing some part. You’ve captured autumn very nicely there Aileen and those twin trees are amazing.

  2. So true how marvellous things can become banal. Glad you have kept your sense of wonder. Wish I’d gone to Trinity.

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