First Sculptures of Women Installed in Trinity’s Old Library
14th February 2023
Trinity recently installed the first sculptures of women in the Old Library. The new sculptures, the first to be commissioned in more than a century, will be displayed among the 40 marble sculptures that line Trinity’s historic Long Room, which were hitherto all of men.
The four new sculptures in its Old Library will honour the scholarship of four trailblazing women.
The women represented are the scientist Rosalind Franklin, the folklorist, dramatist and theatre-founder Augusta Gregory, the mathematician Ada Lovelace and the pioneering women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft.
The new sculptures, the first to be commissioned in more than a century, will be displayed among the 40 marble sculptures that line Trinity’s historic Long Room, which were hitherto all of men. The current artworks represent men throughout history, from Homer and Shakespeare to Dean Jonathan Swift, Sir Rowan Hamilton and Wolfe Tone.
The new sculptures were launched by Trinity’s Chancellor Dr Mary McAleese at a ceremony in the Long Room.
Their addition represents a first step toward a better representation of our diversity in all of Trinity’s public spaces.
The sculptures are the work of four accomplished artists: Maudie Brady (Ada Lovelace); Rowan Gillespie (Mary Wollstonecraft); Vera Klute (Rosalind Franklin) and Guy Reid (Augusta Gregory).
Provost Linda Doyle said:
“While it is important to respect tradition, it is also important to break tradition. The addition of these sculptures of women has been a long time coming. I want to thank everyone involved in the creation and installation of these beautiful pieces.
“Sculptures are an iconic feature of Trinity’s Long Room, and I hope that the inclusion of these four outstanding women is the furthering of a collective recognition of the incredible contribution of women across many fields.”
Librarian Helen Shenton said: “On this auspicious day, St Brigid’s Day, we celebrate women’s scholarship with these sculptures in the Long Room of the Old Library. Their individual contributions to knowledge and to society will now be permanently honoured in this cathedral of learning at the heart of Trinity.”
Dr Mary McAleese said: “From today nothing will be the same. Brigid is co-equal with Patrick on the national calendar. Visitors to the Long Room will, we hope, come away with a new appreciation of the scholarship of women.”
The four women being honoured were chosen in 2020 from more than 500 nominations by students, staff, and alumni covering a wide field of ground-breaking individuals who contributed significantly to scholarship and culture across history.
In 2021, after an extensive national and international shortlisting process, nine artists were invited and supported financially to submit maquettes (preliminary models) of at least two of the nominated women, from which the four artists were chosen.
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Pictured are Catherine Giltrap, Provost Dr Linda Doyle and Librarian Helen Shenton, admiring Vera Klute’s Rosalind Franklin.