12 Dec 2019
The world-famous Book of Kells is having to take a short leave of absence from its home in Trinity College, Dublin, but the exhibition is still well worth a visit.
The Book of Kells, a beautifully illuminated ninth-century manuscript that documents the four gospels of the life of Jesus Christ, is Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure.
Painstakingly created by monks, and considered a masterpiece of illustration and calligraphy, it’s probably the world’s most famous medieval manuscript and is recognised by UNESCO as a Memory of the World.
Housed within the Old Library in historic Trinity College Dublin, the Book of Kells is the centrepiece of a fascinating exhibition explaining the history of Ireland’s medieval manuscripts and how they were created.
For a few months – November 2019 to early March 2020 – as part of ongoing conservation and preservation plans for the Old Library, the Book of Kells will be removed from public display. The conservation work will enable a critical redevelopment of the Old Library, including structural upgrades and digitisation of its collection to conserve it for future generations.
But if you’re planning a visit to Dublin during that time you should still include a tour of the exhibition in your itinerary, as a full colour replica of the Book of Kells will be available to view in Trinity’s Long Room library.
The Long Room, the longest single-chamber library in the world and worth a visit on its own merits, is considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, housing 200,000 of Ireland’s most ancient texts.
It also displays the Brian Boru Harp, Ireland’s oldest surviving harp and the model for the insignia of Ireland. A rare original copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, a seminal text in Irish history, which influenced the foundation of the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, can also be viewed there.
Trinity College dates back to 1592 and a guided tour is an enjoyable way to delve into its fascinating history and the achievements of some of its most famous students, which include literary heavyweights Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and Jonathan Swift.
The tour is part of a combined ticket that also includes admission to the Book of Kells and Old Library Exhibition. From November to February, while the Book of Kells is off site, the ticket price will be discounted.
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