Trinity Welcomes the German President

Posted on: 14 July 2015

The German President, Joachim Gauck, visited Trinity College Dublin, Ireland’s leading university as part of a three-day State visit to Ireland.

Welcoming President Gauck, Provost & President of Trinity College, Dr Patrick Prendergast  said: “We are delighted to welcome  the  German President to Trinity College Dublin, Ireland’s highest-ranked university which has produced some of the world’s great minds across the sciences and the humanities, including two Nobel Laureates, Samuel Beckett in literature and Ernest Walton in science.”   

German President Joachim Gauck his partner Daniela Schadt and Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist

“We are honoured by this visit which goes to strengthen our relations with Germany. Trinity has the oldest chair of German in the world, founded in the late 18th century, which is reflected today in the strong international reputation of our German Department in research.  Trinity has strong research links with leading German institutions across a wide range of fields in the humanities and sciences, and our university attracts highly talented scholars and students from Germany into many disciplines.”

The German President visited Trinity’s Long Room situated in the College’s 18th century Old Library building. During his visit he was escorted by the Provost & President, Dr Patrick Prendergast and the Librarian and College Archivist, Helen Shenton.

He was shown the Book of Kells, a 9th century gospel manuscript written and illustrated by Columban monks, famous throughout the world for its beautifully intricate decoration and representative of Ireland as a seat of art and learning. 

German President Joachim Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt with Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist, and Trinity Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast

He was also shown an exhibition on the renowned Irish poet W.B Yeats celebrating the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birth. Trinity College Library is particularly rich in material relating to W.B. Yeats: the holdings include both the Cuala Press and the Yeats collections of printed books, as well as a collection of Cuala Press archives presented by the poet’s children, Michael and Anne Yeats, in 1986.

Concluding the visit, the German President met with German students attending Trinity and members of the German Department as well as academic staff with German links across a range of disciplines.

German President Joachim Gauck with Joseph O'Gorman Director of Authenticity Tours

Notes to Editor

Trinity College Dublin, founded in 1592, is Ireland’s oldest university and today has a vibrant community of 17,000 students. It is recognised internationally as Ireland’s premier university. Cutting edge research, technology and innovation places the university at the forefront of higher education in Ireland and globally.  It encompasses all major academic disciplines, and is committed to world-class teaching and research across the range of disciplines in the arts, humanities, engineering, science, social and health sciences.    Trinity is Ireland’s leading university across all international rankings, and is ranked 71st place worldwide and in the top 25 in Europe in the recent QS World University Rankings 2014. Situated in the centre of Dublin, Ireland’s vibrant capital city and one of Europe’s liveliest student hubs, Trinity College Dublin’s 47-acre campus boasts technologically advanced libraries, laboratories and IT facilities that have been seamlessly integrated into the historic campus.  

About The Book of Kells

Chi Rho page – the most celebrated image in the Book of Kells. The words Christi Autem Generatio open the narrative of St Matthew’s Gospel with the name of Christ in its abbreviated Greek form (Chi Rho) occupying the whole height of the page. The Chi forms a cross shape. The page is filled with visual reminders of the eucharistic sacrifice and resurrection of Christ. 

The Book of Kells is celebrated for its lavish decoration. The manuscript contains the four Gospels in Latin based on a Vulgate text, written on vellum (prepared calfskin), in a bold and expert version of the script known as "insular majuscule".

The place of origin of the Book of Kells is generally attributed to the scriptorium of the monastery founded around 561 by St Colum Cille on Iona, an island off the west coast of Scotland. In 806, following a Viking raid on the island which left 68 of the community dead, the Columban monks took refuge in a new monastery at Kells, County Meath. It must have been close to the year 800 that the Book of Kells was written, although there is no way of knowing if the book was produced wholly at Iona or at Kells, or partially at each location.  

It has been on display in the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin from the mid-19th century, and attracts over 500,000 visitors a year. Since 1953 it has been bound in four volumes. Two volumes are on public view, one opened to display a major decorated page, and one to show two pages of script. The volumes are changed at regular intervals.

Ireland’s Oldest Harp

Dating from 15th century legend has it that this harp belonged to Brian Boru, who died at the battle of Clontarf in 1014. It is the finest known example of this traditional Irish instrument. The design for our national emblem is based on this harp.

About the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic

This is one of the few remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic which was read outside the General Post Office on 24 April 1916 by Patrick Pearse at the start of the Easter Rising.

The Long Room

65 metres long and holds 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books. The Old Library is a working library and celebrated the tercentenary of its foundation in 2012.

About the W.B Yeats Exhibition

The publishing history of W.B. Yeats’s works in the first half of the twentieth century is inextricably bound up with the Cuala Press, formerly the Dun Emer Press, which was run by the poet’s sister Elizabeth. Not only were the first editions of several of Yeats’s poetry collections, such as In the Seven Woods, The green helmet and other poems and The wild swans at Coole printed at the Press, but Yeats also acted as literary editor for the business and was responsible for selecting what was printed by it. Consequently, books by most of the principal literary figures in Ireland at the time appeared under the Cuala Press imprint, including works by George Russell (‘AE’), Douglas Hyde, J.M. Synge and Lady Gregory. Individual poems by James Stephens, Seumas O’Sullivan and Padraic Colum were printed on the Cuala Press broadsides, often accompanied by an illustration by the poet’s brother, Jack B. Yeats.

This small exhibition has been prepared to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birth on 13th June 1865. The Library is particularly rich in material relating to W.B. Yeats: the holdings include both the Cuala Press and the Yeats collections of printed books, as well as a collection of Cuala Press archives presented by the poet’s children, Michael and Anne Yeats, in 1986.

About the Waterloo and Gallipoli Exhibit

There are two elements to the exhibition. One comprises some letters from John Ormsby Vandaleur, an Irishman who led the British Cavalry on the field of battle when  Lord Uxbridge had his leg shattered late in the day. These are to acknowledge the number of Irishmen who served in the British Army, both at Waterloo and a century later, in WWI.

The other element comprises a diary recording a visit to the battle site a year after the battle and a scrapbook with botanical souvenirs, collected on the battlefield  seventy years later. These are to pose a question about how sites of murderous warfare and largescale death quickly become tourist attractions.

Media Coverage:


Media Contact:

Fiona Tyrrell, Media Relations Officer | | +353 1 896 3551