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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Booklets from Trinity College Library - Dublin, Ireland

I couldn't let St. Patrick's Day slip by without a quick post related to Ireland. But I did let it slip by. Try as I might, I just couldn't find the piece I wanted to post about until late in the day. So I actually got this started on the 17th, as it is dated, but the luck of the Irish wasn't with me in getting it finished. And I do have Irish blood, which goes back to County Armagh.

I hadn't looked at this booklet about Ireland's Trinity College Library since returning from a European trip some 16 years ago, which is why I had a hard time finding it. On that trip we got to spend a day in Dublin and toured the library. This booklet was a souvenir purchased at the library's gift shop, one I'm glad I got and kept (well-hidden!).



I remember seeing the Long Room, shown on the cover of the booklet, and being completely awed by the splendor, its architectural history, and the books. Oh, the books!

The Long Room is also depicted in an 18th-century painting by James Malton, which is reproduced in this booklet.


The booklet's rear cover features an enlarged section of the painting.


The highlight of the tour, of course, was the Book of Kells, for which I have another souvenir booklet.


The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript written about the year AD 800 in a monastery scriptorium, but various artistic traits of the manuscript make it difficult to say exactly where it was produced. The Four Gospels of the New Testament comprise the manuscript of 340 calf-skin leaves and it is illuminated with beautiful art work throughout. Even the Latin text displays ornate decoration between many of the lines. Indeed, only two pages in the entire manuscript are without color.

I had a video camera and a 35mm camera, but was not allowed to shoot from either, as I recall. So I'm glad I got the booklets to remember a bit of what I saw. The Trinity College Library booklet was written by librarian Peter Fox. The Book of Kells booklet was written by historian Peter Brown.

There are too many beautiful images, as well as much history, to pick and choose for inclusion here. I fear this post would get too bloated with information and detail, so I've tried to provide appropriate links that will furnish more information as a reader's interest may desire.

Later that day, after touring the library, we followed the sound of Irish music coming from a live band in a music shop near downtown and enjoyed an unplanned concert. And we worked up a powerful thirst that was quenched by a pint of Guinness (or two) in a nearby pub. History, rare manuscripts and books, Celtic music, and an Irish pub--all in Dublin. That's what I was remembering on St. Patrick's Day yesterday. So Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day!


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