Physical address: University of Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2
Phone number: +353 1 8962320
Business hours: 8:30am – 5pm (Monday – Saturday, May to September); 9:30am – 5pm (Sunday, May to September; Monday – Saturday, October to April); 12 noon – 4:30pm (Sunday, October to April)
DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you buy something after clicking our link to the retailer, we make a small commission on the sale. You can read our full disclosure policy here.
DATING back to 1592, the library at Trinity College in Dublin is the largest library in Ireland, and the only library in the country to hold status as a legal deposit library (meaning that it is entitled to receive a complimentary copy of every book published) in both Ireland and the United Kingdom. Since receiving that status in 1801, its collection has grown immensely, and the library now contains more than six million texts and occupies multiple buildings on the University of Dublin campus and in other places around the city.
The most well-known of the Library’s buildings is the Long Room, the largest space in the Old Library. Originally built with a flat roof, single floor of shelves and a gallery, major renovations were undertaken in the mid-1800s to accommodate the growing number of books provided to the library, and the much-photographed vaulted ceilings were added as part of that exercise. In addition to the 200,000 texts housed in the Room (including a rare copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic), there are also a number of marble busts of famous writers, philosophers and College patrons, and a 15th Century harp, upon which the harp in Ireland coat of arms is based.
Aside from the Long Room, the library’s greatest tourist attraction is a four-volume manuscript known as the Book of Kells. Thought to have been created in the 9th Century, the 340 folios contain the story of the Gospels in Latin, immaculately illustrated and painstakingly (yet inaccurately) written on calf’s vellum. The Book’s exact place and time of origin is unknown, and has been subject to much debate, but academic opinion suggests that it was likely started at a Columban monastery on the Scottish island of Iona and then brought to a new monastery in Kells, County Meath (Ireland) following a raid by Vikings that forced the monks to flee. The Book is known to have been at the Kells monastery in the 12th Century, but references are made to a stolen and recovered text that matches its description as early as 1007.
The Book of Kells left Kells and was given to the University’s library in 1661, and has been on display there since the 19th Century. There are usually two volumes of the Book on display at any time, with one open to show the detailed full pages illustrations, and the other showing a page of normal text.
SHARE THIS POST