For all of you Library Lovers out there – this one is extra special!
Not only is the Trinity College Old Library home to the famous Book of Kells, but the building itself is part of Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I of England. It has been home to the Book of Kells since 1661 when it was given to library for safekeeping by the Anglican Bishop Henry Jones.
Holding over 6 million volumes, this Thomas Burgh masterpiece is the only legal deposit library in the United Kingdom (meaning a copy of every book printed and copyrighted in Ireland and the UK finds a home there). However, it’s the Old Library and the magnificent Long Room that has the ability to make a book lover cry.
Home of over 200, 000 of the library’s oldest and rarest manuscripts, the Long Room chamber stretches 213 feet and the barrel-vaulted ceiling rises above like a cathedral to awe and inspire even the most hardened e-book lover.
Marble busts line the Long Room, a collection that began in 1743 when 14 busts were commissioned from sculptor Peter Schemakers. The busts are of the great philosophers and writers of the western world and also of men connected with Trinity College Old Library – famous and not so famous. The finest bust in the collection (according to Trinity College) is of the writer Jonathan Swift by Louis Francois Roubiliac.
The upper gallery was added in the 1860’s as the rare book collection had outgrown the single floor below. When built, the library had a flat plaster ceiling. The barrel-vaulted gallery we see today was raised according to the designs of architects Deane and Woodward to allow for the expansion. Oh, to spend an afternoon in one of those quiet, secluded chambers…
Trinity College Old Library Dublin is one of the world’s great research libraries. Can you just imagine the hours spent climbing those well-worn ladder steps?
Admission to the Long Room is part of the Book of Kells ‘Turning Darkness into Light’ exhibition. The exhibition and library shop are open 7 days a week. Mon-Sat. 9:30a – 5p, and Sun (Oct-May) 12-4:30 (June-Sept) 9:30a-4:30. After you’ve enjoyed learning about the Book of Kells, you’ll enter the Long Room to gaze upwards in rapt amazement and inhale the sweet smell of old books and centuries of history (well, that’s what I did, anyway!). ENJOY!