The Book of Kells, Co. Dublin

Dublin has many places of interest and attractions to make a visit to Ireland’s capital city a memorable one. For those who like to enjoy a more cultural or literary break, a trip to the Trinity College Library where the famous Book of Kells is housed, is a must.

Getting there can be achieved using Dublin’s public transport system, but if you are staying outside the city or want some more freedom to explore the capitals sites, there are a number of Dublin car hire companies at hand, with many situated at Dublin airport itself.

The Book of Kells is a manuscript that was transcribed in Latin by Celtic monks in 800 AD and contains the four Gospels of the New Testament along with an assortment of prefatory texts and tables. The wording of the Gospels is largely taken from the Vulgate, but also includes sections from the earlier versions of the Bible known as the Vetus Latina.

The Book of Kells is a work of genius of Western calligraphy and is widely regarded as the most excellent of Ireland’s national treasures.

The illustration and decorations of the manuscript combines traditional Christian iconography with the elaborate swirling motifs that are associated with insular art. The pages within the Book of Kells are adorned with figures of humans, animals and mythical beasts, along with Celtic knots and interweaving patterns in energetic and vibrant colours.

Today the document comprises 340 sheets and was delicately bound in four volumes back in 1953. It is now permanently displayed at the Trinity College Library, Dublin, but was before this, kept at the Abbey of Kells for centuries which is where the book took its name from. Two of the current four documents are usually exhibited at any one time and this will generally be one showing a major illustration and the other displaying the typical text pages of the manuscript.

This is a wonderful piece of ancient literature and an essential place to visit to enjoy one of Ireland’s most historical national treasures.