The famous Book of Kells can be found in the Trinity College's Old Library. It is one of the main attractions in the city and certainly something you should try to see on your trip to Dublin. This beautiful, ancient book was composed by Celtic monks in 800 AD and consists of both drawings and intricately fashioned calligraphy. Trinity College has been its home since the 17th century.
The main text of the book is the four gospels of the New Testament but also included are prefaces, canon tables and summaries. The text is written in Latin and detailed drawings appear throughout the book.
It is actually four books, consisting of 680 pages, but only two are on display. The books are kept under glass and in a darkened room. Very little of the actual pages can be viewed, though the pages on display show the meticulous detail of the decorations within the books. Generally, only two pages are on view at any one time. The intensity of the colors is amazing and you may wish you had a magnifying glass to see the exquisite fine detail of the Celtic drawings.
The exhibit not only displays some pages from the original books but also details the history and meaning of the text and illustrations. There is also a very interesting video on how the paper used in the book was made and how the binding was put together.
An admission fee is charged to enter the Old Library and concessions for students, seniors, family and children do apply. The admission fee not only includes a viewing of the Book of Kells but also other worthwhile exhibits, including the Long Room of the Old Library.
There are no formal tours of the library, however visitors can take a self-guided tour. Leaflets are supplied in a wide variety of languages for the tour and are easy to follow.
Trinity College and the Book of Kells are two of the most popular tourist venues for visitors and, as a consequence, it can get very crowded depending on the time of year you visit. Even if you pre-book your tickets, you still have to wait in the queue like everyone else.
Nonetheless, a visit to Dublin would not be complete without viewing the Book of Kells.
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