Ógra Shinn Féin (ÓSF) TCD has launched a petition calling on College to rename The Berkeley Library to The Wolfe Tone Library, after the leader of the 1798 Rebellion, Theobald Wolfe Tone.
The petition, which has garnered over 130 signatures, states: “George Berkeley was a slave owner and racist.”
“The fact that Trinity College Dublin has a library in his honour is a disgraceful stain on its integrity and standing, and an insult to our diverse student body. The library should immediately be renamed.”
It continues: “Wolfe Tone was one of Trinity’s greatest ever graduates and one of Ireland’s most influential historical figures. Despite this, Trinity makes no real effort to remember his legacy, and has nothing named in his memory on campus.”
Liam Kiernan, chair of ÓSF TCD, told Trinity News: “How we remember our history is a reflection of how we see ourselves in the present.”
“If we see ourselves as a progressive and inclusive institution, we should be commemorating those who made meaningful contributions to academia as well as society, not those who facilitated and perpetuated injustice.”
Megan Tynan, SF Biological and Biomedical Sciences student and member of Trinity ÓSF said: “In 2022, Trinity still holds onto a racist and colonialist past. One of its graduates, George Berkeley, who is a known slave and plantation owner, has a library named after him in his honour while figures of Irish republicanism go without any recognition.”
This petition comes on the back of calls by Trinity College, Dublin Students Union (TCDSU) for the immediate de-naming of The Berkeley Library and an announcement that they would be calling it the “X Library” in any future statements.
TCDSU has set a deadline of 30 September for the college to come up with a plan for renaming the library “before escalated action is taken”.
In a photo shared to its social media in May, TCDSU covered the name “Berkeley” on the library with a list of Trinity graduates the library could instead be named after.
The list of names included first female President of Ireland Mary Robinson, former President and former Reed Professor at Trinity College Dublin Mary McAleese, and founder of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Ireland Kader Asmal. TCDSU did not suggest Wolfe Tone as a new name for the library.