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€9m revamp of Rubrics building

Planning permission for a €9 million revamp of the college’s Rubrics building has been given to Trinity College Dublin (TCD). Rubrics was built between 1699 and 1702 and is the oldest surviving building on the TCD city centre campus.

Some of its former residents include one of Ireland’s most celebrated writers, the late John McGahern and former Finance Minister and Fianna Fáil politician, Brian Lenihan who died in 2011. Earlier this year, the Rubrics featured in the TV adaptation of TCD graduate, Sally Rooney’s ‘Normal People’ where the novel’s protagonists Connell and Marianne meet up once more at a campus party at the famous red-bricked building.

Coincidentally, the director of the episode and Trinity scholar, Lenny Abrahamson resided at Rubrics during his student days at the college. The Rubrics also provided the backdrop for the start of the real life romance between the star of The Affair and The Wire, Dominic West and Limerick native, Catherine Fitzgerald in the 1990s when the couple attended TCD as students.

Now, with the grant of planning, TCD can proceed with its plan to refurbish and conserve the Protected Structure and deliver 22 studio residential units and 36 student bedrooms. In a recently published tender, TCD has put a €9m estimate on the revamp of the Rubrics and the Chief Steward’s House.  

International award-winning design firm, Pascall+Watson is to lead the Rubrics revamp. Author of ‘Amongst Women’, the late John McGahern also roomed at the Rubrics and recalled in his writings that “the whole sense of space was very beautiful”.

Pascall+Watson state that “our objective is to regain this sense of space and at the same time upgrade the accommodation”.

Several alterations and interventions has been done to  Rubrics in the past 300 years. The Council granted planning permission for the proposal after its planner concluded that the plan “is likely to significantly improve and enhance the existing protected building, from a residential point of view and also from a preservation and maintenance perspective”.

Dr Andrew Somerville has written about the Rubrics in his new book ‘The early residential buildings of Trinity College Dublin: architecture, finance, people’. Dr Somerville stated that the most dramatic event concerning a resident of the Rubrics was the murder of Trinity Fellow, Edward Forde in his rooms in March 1734. 

Dr Somerville stated that Mr Forde “had fallen out with a number of students, and his end came after he was shot from the direction of what is now New Square, while he was standing at a window in his rooms. Four students – one a graduate – were put on trial, and all were acquitted.”

 A TCD spokeswoman stated that Trinity is committed to maintaining the Rubrics as a primarily residential building and also look forward to filling Rubrics with residents once again.

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