Out and About in Dublin – Trinity College and the Book of Kells

Published on 23 December 2009 in , , ,

So anyway, we were back in Dublin and we had an afternoon to kill – although our time was lessoned by train problems, our new hotel being further away from the centre than we thought and the fact that it took us longer to get from our hotel to the town centre due to a massive Day of Protest in Dublin which saw 70,000 people take to the streets protesting about public sector cuts. Oh and when we finally went for lunch, it took for ages for them to toast a panini.

Day Of Protest marches

If you think Britain has it bad in this recession, then you haven’t been looking at our neighbours – Ireland is, financially, in dire straits, and the state of the economy and the government desperately trying to balance its books were headline news almost every day.

Anyway, our original plan was to go to one of the art galleries, however time was running slightly low so we went to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College instead.

The Book of Kells is an illustrated copy of the four Gospels of the New Testament, and over 2,000 years old. The name comes from the Abbey of Kells, which is where the book (now split into four volumes) was originally homed. It was split into four volumes in the 1950s.

The Book is a major tourist attraction in itself, however (and not surprisingly) the college aren’t happy just to take your money off you to look at it (and no, nor are they happy for you to touch it!) so there’s a large museum about the book, and about how books like this were made all those years ago.

In the book viewing room itself, there’s a glass case with four books – two of which are volumes of the Book of Kells, and the other two are from similar manuscripts. The pages and volumes themselves are changed regularly. To be honest the exhibition is probably more interesting, however the real gem comes straight after and isn’t a book, but a home of books.

It’s the Old Library – a truly majestic home of old manuscripts, which just smells of books when you walk in. When you look a photo of the library, you go “wow”. When you’re there for real, it takes the breath away., It’s the original library of the university, is truly majestic, and is the basis of the design for the Jedi Archives in Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones if you look at the photo and think it seems rather familiar.

Inside the Library there’s an exhibition about Dublin, the University and Irish independence. Although ultimately you just really want to spend your time gawping at the amazing building. Or, in my case, wanting to take loads of photographs. Sadly that’s not allowed (hey, I would have even turned my flash off – the trouble is, most people wouldn’t have�) however it is possible to buy postcards from the gift shop.

But to be honest, we went on a pub crawl instead…