When we decided to spend a day in Dublin during our Northern Ireland break, there were two places on our must visit list – Guinness Storehouse and Trinity College.
Trinity College, despite its name, is actually a university set right in the heart of Dublin city centre.
Visiting a university isn’t your typical destination for a day out, however, Trinity College is home to the Old Library and the Book of Kells – Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure and the world’s most famous medieval manuscript.
Visits to Trinity College are so popular that the university have started running tours which encompass the four major squares of the College.
The tour provides visitors with an insight into the more than four-hundred-year history of the College, its buildings and their use, its traditions and its life today and it is advisable to visit early as they only run until mid-afternoon.
You don’t have to take an official tour to visit the Old Library and the Book of Kells “Turning Darkness into Light” exhibition and simply enter through the library shop.
I have to admit that the kids were not interested by the Book of Kells exhibition, mainly because it was so busy that they could not get to see many of the displays which feature enlarge images of the 9th century manuscript.
The actual Book of Kells, an ornately decorated copy of the four Gospels of the life of Jesus, is on display in the Long Room, one of the world’s most beautiful libraries that houses 200,000 of Trinity College’s oldest books and that “old book” smell really hits you as you walk through the door.
Marble busts of the great philosophers and writers of the western world line the Long Room, which just adds to the history of the room.
The library is also home to one of the oldest Harps of its kind in Ireland which probably dates from the 15th century. It is made of oak and willow with 29 brass strings and is the model for the emblem of Ireland.
Like the Book of Kells exhibition, the Old Library is an extremely popular tourist destination and we could not get near the tour guides to hear what they were saying, however, you are free to explore the 65 metre room unaccompanied.
It is also rumoured that the Jedi archives of the Jedi Temple in the movie Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones were based on the Long Room of the Trinity College Library, which the boys were most excited by.
Entry to the Book of Kells exhibition and the Old Library is €14 for adults and under 12’s are free.
A combined ticket for a guided tour of Trinity College Dublin and the cost of admission to the Book of Kells and Old Library Exhibition costs €15.00 per person or €30 for the family.