The Book of Kells and Trinity College

After we finished at the National Library, MK and I headed over to another well known library, which, unfortunately, is more museum than library (but I really wanted to handle and read some of these books! Ah, such is life). Trinity College is only a block or two away, so we swung down to visit the Book of Kells Exhibit.

Let me preface this by saying the only reason I don’t have any photos is because they asked nicely that we not take photos (and all the pictures I took of actual manuscripts I don’t have reproduction rights for, so I can’t share). Technically, I still could have taken photos, because it’s the flash that’s problematic, not the picture taking, but I’ve learned that if one person does something, suddenly everyone else thinks its their right to do it too, and they generally do it wrong. Since I would prefer for old manuscripts not to be damaged, I kept my phone away, like the virtuous woman I am.

The Book of Kells is absolutely gorgeous, and a ticket to see the book also includes a walk-through history of the book and its inks (which includes things like ground lapis) as well as a look at a variety of other historic documents (like the Proclamation of 1916, which is important to the Easter Rising and Ireland’s journey to becoming an independent country once again–it is very much worth reading if you have the time!). The library also has a variety of busts on display, all of prominent literary authors.

Circling back to the Book of Kells, however, the book is one of the most in-tact for its time period, and is also one of the most lavishly illustrated. It was, in a way, like the ultimate picture book, with the illustrations working alongside the story. In other ways, however, it is quite fantastical, as the illustrations often tell the stories through symbolism, and the symbols on their own could perhaps tell a half a dozen different stories. The book itself is significant because it was created as a memorial to Colm Cille’s death, one of the most revered Irish saints (Padraig/Patrick and Brigid being the other two). While usually only one of the gospels in on display at a time, high-quality scans of a number of pages can be seen throughout the display.

The library itself–which one enters after exiting the Book of Kells display–is one that seems it would be quite cozy, if no one was tromping through it. It was an appropriate place to spend a rainy afternoon.

Plus there’s a coffee shop right nearby. It wasn’t as good as the coffee shop at UCC, though.

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