When visiting Dublin Ireland, the Trinity College Library, home to the Book of Kells, is one of the most popular destinations on travel itineraries. Located in the center of the bustling Irish capital, it is near Dublin Castle, the Guinness Brewery, St Patrick's Cathedral, and various other attractions. The oldest university in Ireland offers beautiful buildings, stone walkways, and a copy of every British and Irish book that has been published since 1801. Essentially the main museum in Dublin, the Trinity College Library is heaven on earth for historians, scholars, researchers, and curious visitors by virtue of the 4 million books, volumes and manuscripts that are housed throughout the campus.
The Trinity College Library is composed of the Old Library (home of the famous Long Room), the Berkeley/Lecky/Ussher Libraries Complex, the Hamilton Science and Engineering Library, and the 1937 Reading Room. The Long Room is the most breathtaking of the library buildings. It is 213 feet long and 42 feet wide, and about 200,000 volumes of the library's collection are housed here with the shelves of books lined with busts of famous Trinity graduates. Despite the fact that there are so many designated library buildings, thousands of books are still held in storage and in book depositories due to lack of space and shelving.
Out of all the famous writings that the library houses, the Book of Kells is by far the most popular attraction that this museum in Dublin has to offer. Located on the ground floor of the Old Library, which was constructed in 1712, this ninth-century manuscript of the four gospels is something not to be missed. The Book of Kells was beautifully decorated and illuminated by the monks and scribes of the former monastery of Kells, which was located in County Meath, about 40 miles north of Dublin. Each of its 680 pages is carefully inscribed with intricate details of calligraphy and illustrations that are all hand-drawn. The works in the Book of Kells are often referred to as “a work not of men, but of angels” due to the unsurpassed detail and beauty the book contains.
The Book of Kells has been on display in this historic library since the mid-nineteenth century. In 1953, the manuscript was bound into four volumes. There are always two volumes on display to the public; one beautifully decorated page and two pages that show the detail of the hand-written script throughout the manuscript. These two volumes are changed periodically so the same pages are not always on display. Although visitors are only able to see three pages from the famed book, it is quite easy to spend more than an hour mesmerized by the magnificent art on these pages from the Book of Kells.
With the fame surrounding the Book of Kells, it is quite easy for visitors to forget about the other various treasures that reside in the Trinity College Library. The Book of Armagh, also known at the Canon of Patrick, is a ninth-century transcript of documents that contains the earliest writings relating to St. Patrick. It provides insight on the early history of Ireland, the Christianization of the Celts, the rights of the See of Armagh, and a work by St. Patrick himself, the Confession. Unlike the Book of Kells, the Book of Armagh contains only four detailed pictures and is filled with columns of script. A few pages of the Book of Armagh are also on display in the library for visitors to view.
A trip to the vibrant city of Dublin would not be complete without a visit to the Trinity College Library. Part of the world-famous Trinity College and the symbol of Irish intelligence, this museum in Dublin contains some of the most important and decorated early Christian works. Housed among millions of other books, the Book of Kells and the Book of Armagh are the most popular due to their intriguing material and beautiful craftsmanship. The opening hours to view these masterpieces are Monday through Saturday, 9:30 am to 5 pm. On Sundays, the hours vary by season, and the museum is open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm between May and September, and from noon to 4:30 pm between October and April. The Trinity College Library is a symbol of Irish culture and will continue to be one of the top attractions in Dublin for years to come.