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Book of Kells

Welcome to the Old Library and the Book of Kells – a “must see” on the itinerary of all visitors to Dublin. Located in the heart of Dublin City, a walk through the cobbled stones of Trinity College Dublin will bring visitors back to the 18th century, when the magnificent Old Library building was constructed. Inside is housed the Book of Kells – a 9th-century gospel manuscript famous throughout the world. Visitors are welcomed by our friendly staff seven days a week.

Visitors enter through the Library Shop and proceed to the Book of Kells “Turning Darkness into Light” exhibition; then to the Treasury where the Book of Kells and other related manuscripts are on view; then proceed upstairs to the magnificent Long Room which houses 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books in its oak bookcases.

Exhibitions are held in the Long Room to display the rich holdings of the Library and encourage further research.

Visitors can take a Trinity Tour of campus which includes entry to the Book of Kells and exhibitions, or enjoy the Trinity Experience – some of the many wonderful things for visitors to enjoy at Trinity College Dublin.

The Long Room

The main chamber of the Old Library is the Long Room; at nearly 65 metres in length, it is filled with 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books and is one of the most impressive libraries in the world.

When built (between 1712 and 1732) it had a flat plaster ceiling and shelving for books was on the lower level only, with an open gallery. By the 1850s these shelves had become completely full; largely as since 1801 the Library had been given the right to claim a free copy of every book published in Britain and Ireland. In 1860 the roof was raised to allow construction of the present barrel-vaulted ceiling and upper gallery bookcases.

Marble busts line the Long Room, a collection that began in 1743 when 14 busts were commissioned from sculptor Peter Scheemakers. The busts are of the great philosophers and writers of the western world and also of men (and yes, they are all men) connected with Trinity College Dublin – famous and not so famous. The finest bust in the collection is of the writer Jonathan Swift by Louis Francois Roubiliac.