‘The most purely Irish thing we have’ in ‘the most beautiful room in Ireland’; the Library of Trinity College Dublin.
Lecture by Helen Shenton, Librarian, Trinity College Dublin.
James Joyce said the Book of Kells ‘is the most purely Irish thing we have and some of the big initial letters which swing right across a page have the essential quality of a chapter of Ulysses’.
Created in the 9th century with sublime artistry and stewarded by Trinity College Dublin since the 17th century, the Book of Kells is in the very DNA of Ireland. Uniquely, a million visitors a year come to Trinity College Dublin to view these medieval Gospels, which are UNESCO Memory of the World items.
Visitors also experience the soaring, cathedral-like Long Room, which is frequently called ‘the most beautiful room in Ireland’. Built in the 18th century, the Old Library is very much a working library, home to 350,000 early printed books and manuscripts, as well as welcoming visitors from across the globe including heads of state and government.
These treasures of Trinity College Dublin will be illustrated in this talk, especially in the context of two ambitious programmes currently underway. Firstly, the Old Library Redevelopment Project which will conserve and protect this exquisite Enlightenment building. Secondly, the Virtual Trinity Library, which will create a digital version, using emerging technologies, of Trinity’s extensive unique and distinctive collections, making them accessible to everyone around the world.
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The Library of Trinity College Dublin