A Trip to the Book of Kells

8 Dec

            As a student at Trinity College, I have heard a great deal about the Book of Kells and the old library on campus. However, it was not until the other day that I got to experience these much-discussed attractions. The Book of Kells is a gospel book that was created in the 9th century by the monks of Iona. I originally had little interest in what I believed to be simply an old book. However, upon witnessing the book and learning about its history in the exhibit, I quickly realized its value and meaning to the Irish people. Decorated with elaborate designs and images, the Book of Kells is magnificent when one considers the effort and time that went into the superb detail. Furthermore, the book sheds light on a part of Irish history that I believe is often overlooked. The monastic tradition in Ireland contributed heavily to the Ireland that we know today. Remnants of the strong monastic past still exist throughout Ireland from the monastic village in Glendalough to the Skellig Michael Monastery in County Kerry. This monastic tradition has influenced the religious views of today, and contributed to the artistic tradition. The interlacing style of art often associated with the Celtic tradition is very apparent in the Book of Kells.

            The Book of Kells has narrowly escaped destruction, from the Vikings to the British king Cromwell, several times in its long history. The dedication of people to preserve the cultural and religious symbol displays the book’s value to the Irish people. Passed on for several centuries, the Book of Kells and the underlying monastic tradition, represent the deep Irish connection with the Catholic Church. I personally can connect with this because my family is very religious and follows the Catholic faith. I found the Book of Kells personally moving in that it showed the devotion that people had to God. The efforts of those who created the detail-rich book and those risked so much to protect it are inspirational. The book means so much more than the words within it when you consider all the lives that it has influenced and touched. 


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