Encountering the Old Library at Trinity College

11 Dec

            Although I visit the campus nearly everyday, Trinity College, Dublin holds a historical piece of Ireland that up until last week I had never encountered. The Trinity College Old Library contains two elements that reflect Ireland’s past. The first, being the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript Gospel book from the ninth century. The second being The Long Room, which is the main chamber of the Old Library and houses 200,000 of the Trinity’s oldest books.

            The Book of Kells exhibit allowed me to further understand how far back the influence that Christianity had on Ireland. As I said before, the Book of Kells dates back to 800 A.D, marking a critical period of development and growth for both the religion and the people of Ireland. The manuscript itself is a wonderful execution of the Gospel, displaying colorful images and majestic colors to solidify its’ importance. While of course this was not an everyday bible used by people to pray or read, its’ use was perhaps more symbolic as the tour suggested that it would most likely be placed on an alter and severed as a monasteries official copy of the Gospel. By far the most fascinating aspect of the Book of Kells was the monk who physically wrote it as of course the invention of printing had not occurred. This would suggest that the book itself was carefully written and illustrated by monks over a long period of time. From this we can gather both the diligence and artistic ability these monks had in crafting this wonderful theological work.           

            With the conclusion of the tour of the Book of Kells, I traveled up the stairs to the second part of the exhibit, the Long Room. While today it is only used as a museum, the Long Room at one time was Trinity’s official library. To experience such a breathtaking few of literature was quite amazing as simply walking into the exhibit was an intellectual experience of itself.  Lined with the busts of famous writers and philosophers, the Long Room is a fine example of Trinity’s ancient dedication to studies. I can only imagine how it would’ve felt to study and compile research in a extensive institute such as the Long Room. Actually, I believe that some students at Trinity, most likely graduate students, are allowed to take out some books from the Long Room. While they cannot leave the area, these students are still graced with the wisdom and knowledge of the past. I also found it quite humorous in the nature of maintaining such an ancient room. During my visitation I saw a worker vacuuming the bookshelves to ensure no dust gathers in any of the books.

            Overall my experience at the Trinity College Old Library was fascinating and allowed me to feel grateful to study at a university that is so dedicated to both academia and preservation of the past. 


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