I was excited to go to Dublin, but mostly I was excited to look around Trinity College for one reason; visiting the Old Library. As my readers may know, I am a book fanatic. I could never truly Marie Kondo my life because I believe in owning all the books. Every book. I’d seen photos that other people had taken of the the Old Library Long Room and it looked like my idea of heaven. It also looks like the Beast’s library in “Beauty and the Beast” so I got to be Belle for the morning with all the books but without all the Stockholm Syndrome.
The Long Room is exquisite. Over 200 feet long and filled with 200,000 of the University’s oldest books, spread over two gallery levels. Access to the books and the ladders is roped off but if I ever come back as a ghost to haunt one place, I want it to be the Trinity Library Long Room.
But when you are there, you also get to see the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is an illustrated version of the four Gospels of the New Testament and is over 1000 years old. It’s one of the most beautiful examples of old Western calligraphy and is apparently Ireland’s “greatest national treasure”. No one has any idea how the book survived when the Vikings plundered Kells Abbey, but it did.
In the library you can also see Johnathan Swift’s death mask, amongst other literature memorabilia. You can also find Brian Boru’s harp at the end of the Long Room. It’s the harp that is the national symbol of Ireland and is the harp on all the heraldry and on the Euro. It was allegedly owned by Brian Boru who was High King of Ireland in the early 1000s but that’s most likely just a legend as the harp itself is now dated back to the 15th century.
Tickets were €13 on the door, but you can also buy them in advance online, and if you do that you are eligible for fast-track admission allowing you to get into the building before everyone else.
My biggest tip is to go early. If you want to get some gorgeous photos of the library without any people in them, the only way to do that is to be one of the first people in. The website advises you to get there before the exhibit opens to queue for it, and I completely agree. It opened at 9:30am (but hours vary depending on the season, so check their website) so I actually got to the building for 8:45 am and even then I wasn’t the first person in the queue. And the fast-track people got to go in before I did. So how did I get my daily empty shots?
Well here’s my secret. You go through the Book of Kells exhibit before you reach the library. It’s fascinating and you should definitely spend time there reading everything. But I actually skipped through it, went upstairs to the library first whilst everyone else was still look at the Book exhibit and then came back down once everyone else started going upstairs. I’m not sure if this is strictly allowed, but no one said anything.