The University of Dublin is the degree-awarding body for Trinity College, Dublin and maintains a long tradition of academic dress and ceremonial. Commencements are formal meetings of the Senate chaired by the Chancellor or Pro-Chancellor (formerly the Vice-Chancellor) conducted in Latin, in full academic costume. This paper examines the evolution of design and use of these officers’ robes in the context of University governance; the public and political profile of these officers; their personalities and involvement in College affairs; and the waxing and waning of Trinity’s influence in Irish society. A coherent system of design for the Dublin Chancellor’s robes began to emerge organically from 1850 onwards, its roots in a combination of accident, design, and personality. There is evidence that the University of Dublin officers’ dress are of two distinct lineages. The Chancellor’s robe seems to be influenced by nineteenth-century clerical taste inspired by the design of the robes of the Speaker of the former Irish House of Commons, while the Pro-Chancellor’s robes appear to be in continuity with an earlier tradition of eighteenth-century judicial costume. However, since the early 1960s the robes have been used interchangeably. As costly and elaborate garments, it is not unusual for them to be in use for fifty years.

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New Prairie Press

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