Exploring the Library: The Trinity Edition

2 Oct

One of the first adventures I had in Dublin, upon arriving in Ireland, was to visit Trinity College. At the College, I went on a tour of the grounds and learned a bit about the history of the school and it’s evolution through the years. It was fascinating to learn about the ways the school grew and changed in accordance with what was occurring both in Dublin and in Ireland, as a whole. For instance, in the beginning, curriculum was focused solely on religion, law and classics. But, as other universities began incorporating medicine and mathematics into the curriculum, Trinity did as well. The school added many new humanities degrees, in order to allow students the opportunity to learn in new disciplines.


After completing the tour of the Trinity campus, I went to the Book of Kells exhibit, which resides in Trinity’s Library (unfortunately, no photography was allowed in the actual exhibit). The Book of Kells is a manuscript Gospel written in Latin. I was amazed to see the detail and attention that went into each stroke. The book also included illustrations that were remarkable. A later exhibit demonstrated the method of mixing pigments and dyes in order to create the colors that are present in the illustrations. During the tour, I learned that the book is one of Ireland’s most valuable medieval artifacts. While the book was not written in Ireland, rather in Iona, it came to Dublin during the time of upheaval and raids by the Vikings. It was determined that the book would be safer in Dublin than in Iona. At the time that the book was written, the Irish Church was generally monastic. The main method of spreading the word of Christianity was through Gospels, and other written manuscripts, which were transcribed by clerical monks.



While I learned a great deal from the Book of Kells exhibit, I also enjoyed being able to walk through the ground floor of the Trinity Library. The amount of research, literature and manuscripts in the library is truly remarkable and in fact, the library houses the largest collection of printed books in Ireland. It is evident that the library is a hallmark of Irish history and knowledge, which has thrived and grown over many centuries.



I believe that the Book of Kells is not only one of Ireland’s most valuable medieval artifacts but also, a demonstration of how religion has played a key role in Ireland’s history. Both Catholicism and Protestantism have contributed to Irish history, including the famous conflict between the two. The fact that this book is still such a significant exhibit for people from all over the world to see demonstrates that even over the course of time, religion is still very real and present in Ireland. In other countries, there are not historical, religious books on display, often because there are various conflicting religions within an area. But, Ireland has chosen to display this book and it shows that even through religious conflict and unrest in the country was very real, nonetheless religion is a pillar of Irish culture and history that should be recognized and celebrated.  




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