Walking into the long room of the old Trinity library is like stepping into a Harry Potter Movie. In fact, many people believe the scenes in Hogwarts library were filmed at Trinity, but it was actually the Bodleian at Oxford University.
My mother and I were visiting Trinity Library to see the Book of Kells, a famous illuminated manuscript from the year 800 A.D. As we made our way to the display area, so did about a thousand other people and we felt like we’d been dropped in the middle of a K Mart on black Friday. We managed to get a cursory glimpse at the famous book, before deciding we’d had enough. After extricating ourselves from the mob, we made our way upstairs where it was quieter and where I’d been told there was a nice library.
Nice library? That hat was the understatement of the century. As you can see, this is a fantastic library! I tried not to swoon as I walked into this scene of soaring vaulted ceilings and burnished wood paneling. Shelves full of leather-bound books stretch from floor to ceiling, while the seductive smell of ancient manuscripts wafts through the air. (The library lady is nothing if not a lover of dusty, old books.)
This library dates to 1712 and is called a copyright library, which means they have the right to request a copy of every book published in Ireland and Great Britain. By the 1850s the shelves were full, and the library was remodeled to accommodate the expanding collection. The “Long Room” is aptly named. It’s a tunnel-like hall that’s 213 feet long. It was originally built with a flat roof, but In 1860 the roof was raised to create the astounding upper gallery.
In addition to 200,000 rare and ancient books, Trinity library is home to the Brian Boru harp which is the national symbol of Ireland, and several busts of great philosophers and writers. It is also the permanent home of two of the four volumes of the famed Book of Kells, and history buffs will be interested to see a rare copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
This is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, and rightly so. The college campus is beautiful, and the timeline and historical display that goes along with the book of Kells is well done and interesting. My recommendation would be to sign up for a student-led walking tour of Trinity College. Your ticket includes the Book of Kells and Trinity Library. To avoid the crowds I experienced, make sure and arrive before the library opens so you can be among the first to enter.
Tickets can be purchased here. https://www.tcd.ie/visitors/book-of-kells/