The Chester Beatty Library is one of the best free attractions in Dublin. Along with the National Museum of Ireland, The Chester Beatty Museum offers free admission to all visitors. This library in Dublin houses the collection of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, who collected a range of manuscripts, paintings, drawings, prints, and rare books. The exhibitions extend beyond Ireland and contain art from different cultures as well. Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa are particularly well represented in his collection, and the great diversity of the collection serves as a great introduction to creative expression from around the globe over the past 4,000 years. Some of the highlights of the collection include papyrus texts from ancient Egypt, illuminated copies of the Bible and the Qur’an, and medieval European manuscripts. Like the Dublin Writers Museum, this is a great attraction for anyone interested in literary history.
The Chester Beatty Library is open Monday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm, though it’s closed Mondays during the winter, on Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm, and on Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm. The Chester Beatty Museum is also closed on major holidays. It is possible to join a tour of this library in Dublin; weekly guided tours take place on Wednesdays at 1 pm and Sundays at 3 pm and 4 pm. If you are in a group of more than five people, it is recommended to make reservations ahead of time on the museum’s web site. (Reservations are not taken over the phone.) Tours last approximately one hour and cost only a few euros per person.
After your tour of the Chester Beatty Library, stop in the Silk Road Café for a light meal or coffee. Flavors of Afghanistan, Greece, and Morocco are on offer, as well as more traditional Irish fare. A museum shop is also located on the ground floor of the library with postcards on art, travel, calligraphy, and bookmaking.