The college was founded in 1592 as the “mother” of a new university, modelled after the collegiate universities of Oxford and of Cambridge, but, unlike these, only one college was ever established; as such, the designations “Trinity College” and “University of Dublin” are usually synonymous for practical purposes.
The main college grounds are approximately 190,000 m2 (47 acres), including the Trinity College Enterprise Centre nearby, and buildings account for around 200,000 m², ranging from works of older architecture to more modern buildings. The main entrance to the college is on the College Green and its grounds are bounded by Nassau and Pearse street. The college is bisected by College Park which has a cricket and rugby pitch.
The Library of Trinity College is the largest research library in Ireland. As a result of its historic standing, Trinity College Library Dublin is a legal deposit library (as per Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003) for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and has a similar standing in Irish law. The College is therefore legally entitled to a copy of every book published in Great Britain and Ireland and consequently receives over 100,000 new items every year. The Library contains about five million books, including 30,000 current serials and significant collections of manuscripts, maps, and printed music. Three million books are held in the book depository, “Stacks”, in Santry, from which requests are retrieved twice daily.
Lord Byron was not allowed to keep his pet dog while he was at Trinity College. He kept a pet bear instead as there were no rules against having one.
The College also has an oversight structure, the Chancellor of the University and the judicial Visitor who is appointed by the Irish Government from a list of two names submitted by the Senate of the University of Dublin. The current judicial Visitor is the Hon. Dr. Justice Maureen Harding Clark.
Trinity College is the most productive internationally recognised research centre in Ireland. The University operates an Innovation Centre which fosters academic innovation and consultancy, provides patenting advice and research information and facilitates the establishment and operation of industrial laboratories and campus companies.
In 1999 the University purchased an Enterprise Centre on Pearse Street, seven minutes’ walk from the on-campus Innovation Centre. The site has over 19,000 m² (200,000 ft²) of built space and contains a protected building, the Tower, which houses a Craft Centre. The Trinity Enterprise Centre will house companies drawn from the University research sector in Dublin.