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Published: December 28th 2018
Old Library Building at Trinity College
The main entrance. It hosts both the Book of Kells Exhibition and the Old Library.
In late September a business meeting took me to Dublin. My colleague who was to fly in from the US arrived later than expected because of a delayed flight, so I took the chance to visit the Book of Kells Exhibition and the Old Library in Trinity College. I was lucky that there was no queue, so I got in right away and could take time to look at everything.
The Book of Kells (Irish: Leabhar Cheanannais) is a beautifully and skilfully illustrated book dating from the 8th or 9th century AD. Researchers believe that it was first produced in Scotland, but then taken to Ireland when the Vikings attacked Britain so that it would be safe; it was kept at Kells Abbey where it has its name from, and nowadays it is at Trinity College in Dublin. It contains the four Gospels in extremely beautiful writing and with wonderful decoration, and additionally there are full page paintings of Jesus, Mary, and the four Evangelists. What they did in the exhibition was they enlarged facsimiles of many of the pages and illuminated them from behind so that one can admire their full beauty. Moreover, the exhibition explains how the book
Old Library I
A huge hall with two floors of books on each side.
was produced technically (e.g., what the paint was made of), what the historical background of the book was, and what it contained. I realised what a huge treasure this book, and books in general at the time, must have been. Then I thought of my bookshelves at home, full of unread books. What a luxury and privilege it is to be able to own and read them, and to complain about a lack of time for reading them all.
The next stop on my visit was the Old Library, and I was full of awe when I entered it. It is located on the first floor of the building so that the books are protected from the water in case of a flood. I came up the stairs, and a huge hall, with all its walls completely covered in books, opened up to me. Due to large windows on both sides of the hall, it was very bright. There were busts of scientists and philosophers like Newton or Aristotle. I love libraries, I love just admiring the bindings of old books, and I love the scent of paper and books. I sat down for a bit and just admired
Old Library II
A closer look at the bookshelves.
all the accumulated knowledge in this hall. Ultimately I had to leave to meet my colleague.
The next two days were packed with meetings and work, but as always we enjoyed great food. One night we had dinner at Chai Yo
, a Teppanyaki restaurant where cooks prepare the food in front of the guests, including some tricks and lots of fire. This was fun and good food. And of course we had a few beers at different pubs!
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