Trinity College Dublin Launches Legacies Review Working Group

Posted on: 25 November 2022

Submissions have been invited from the public on the name of the Berkeley Library and future of Inishbofin human remains stored in Trinity.

Trinity has launched a formal process to review the university’s complex historical legacies since its foundation in 1592. 

The Trinity Legacies Review Working Group, composed of representatives of Trinity’s student body, professional and academic staff, met for the first time this week to consider evidence-based submissions from the university community and the wider public on the naming of Trinity’s Berkeley Library and the future of human remains that originated in Inishbofin, and which are now held in Trinity. The working group will provide options for consideration to the relevant decision-making authority in Trinity. It comes as universities and other institutions around the world investigate their historical legacies and consider how to address them. 

Academic research is underpinning Trinity’s approach to legacy matters. The Trinity Colonial Legacies Project, established in 2021, has been examining and reflecting on Trinity’s colonial legacies through research and engagement with public audiences. Slavery, statues, curriculum development, museum and library collections are all included in this project. Its findings are helping to inform the current review process. 

Two key historical legacy issues to be addressed initially by the Trinity Legacies Review Working Group are the name of the Berkeley Library and the future of human remains that originated in Inishbofin, Co. Galway, and which are now stored in Trinity.

 Work on both matters is already well advanced. Earlier this month, Trinity academics attended a public consultation in Inishbofin to discuss the process with island community. The Trinity Legacies Review Working Group is now inviting evidence-based submissions from the public on both issues.

More information on how to make submissions on these issues is here

Inishbofin remains

The human remains from Inishbofin are associated with former Trinity-affiliated Professors Alfred C Haddon and Andrew F Dixon and are currently stored securely in Trinity’s Old Anatomy Museum. They were removed, for research purposes and without islanders’ consent, in 1890.

An evidence document on this issue compiled by Trinity academics can be viewed here. 

Next-stage submissions on this sensitive issue are invited on or before Wednesday, December 7 2022. 

Berkeley Library

Trinity’s main library was named in 1978 after the philosopher George Berkeley, whose history as a slave-owner has since been well documented. Trinity is seeking written submissions on the name of the Berkeley Library, following a de-naming petition from students.

A working document by Trinity historians can be viewed here. 

In this case, next-stage submissions are invited by Tuesday January 31, 2023. 

It is expected that the Trinity Board will be updated on the complex issues surrounding the Inishbofin human remains before Christmas. The questions around the Berkeley Library name will come to the Board early in the New Year. Decisions will be made public as soon as they are reached. 

Trinity’s Provost, Dr Linda Doyle said: 

“I am glad to see that this process is underway. The goal is to shed light, not heat, on these complex legacy issues. Key to this process are the evidence-based submissions, which are an important part of broadening our understanding of all the dimensions of these matters. 

“It is also a learning process for all of us and, if necessary, we will evolve the process as we learn.”  



Media Contact:

Catherine O’Mahony | Media Relations |