Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Dublin, Ireland

Trinity College in Dublin is as known for it’s history and contribution to Irish history as it is for it’s studies. A visit to Dublin isn’t complete without a guided tour of the campus, a visit to the Long Room, and seeing the Book of Kells.

The only way to see the Book of Kells is if you book a ticket, so be sure to book tickets ahead of time. We booked the ticket that included a tour of the campus. The tour ended up being one of the most interesting ones we’ve been on.

We learned about the history of the college, going back to being all-male, to allowing females, to today. We learned about the famous writers, politicians, and activists who walked the very walkways we were on.

We learned about the constructions and architecture of the different buildings. They are all unique and fit a very specific purpose. And they’re all gorgeous.

We happened to be there when the college was returning 13 skulls they stole in 1890 from the Co Galway island of Inishbofin.

Hearse with the skulls

After a lovely tour of the campus, our guide dropped us off at the library to see the Book of Kells and the Long Room. As you walk through the gallery to the Book of Kells, you see other old books that are important to Irish history.

The Book of Kells is displayed on it’s own in a dark, room inside a climate controlled box. The religious book was created around 800 AD and has some of the most beautiful illustrations and calligraphy. The book is displayed open with a description of the page. The pages are turned every eight weeks. Photos of the Book of Kells aren’t allowed, so this is from the Trinity College website.

After seeing the book, we headed to the Long Room of the library. They are currently removing all the books to redevelop the library and protect the books from dust, fire, and other environmental impacts. Luckily, there were still some books on display when we visited.

The Long Room also has the oldest surviving medieval Irish harp, the symbol of Ireland.

The Book of Kells will still be available to see during the restoration. The Long Hall will remain open through the enabling phase, a two year period of cleaning, categorizing, and storing the over 200,000 books. Construction will begin in 2025 and last an anticipated three years, and as of today, they will be closing the Long Hall to visitors during that phase.

Pro tip: If you want to see the Long Hall, go now or after 2028!

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