The Book of Kells and the Old Library Exhibition, Dublin

4.2
#5 of 5,209 in Things to do in Ireland
One of Ireland's major cultural and artistic treasures, The Book of Kells and the Old Library Exhibition counts among the oldest texts in the world, dated to the 9th century. This illuminated manuscript contains the four gospels of the Bible's New Testament and other sacred texts, written in Latin by Celtic monks. Despite the importance of its written sections, the book's main appeal lies in its illustrations, remarkable because of the artistry and attention to detail achieved by their creators. The intricately decorated pages feature vibrant colors and complex decorative patterns, painstakingly hand-drawn to enhance each section of text. You can see several pages of both illustrations and text at Ireland's largest library, which has displayed this historical book since the 19th century. For travelers who use our international travel planner, Dublin holidays become easier to arrange, with trips to the The Book of Kells and the Old Library Exhibition and other attractions mapped out and timetabled.
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The Book of Kells and the Old Library Exhibition Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
21,334 reviews
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4.4
TripAdvisor
  • Really remarkable building with a rich history. So neat and lovely to look at that even youngsters will find interesting.  more »
  • Lovely library with beautiful bookcases and history. Far too many tourists allowed in at once though. Book of Kelly’s worth a look but felt rushed.  more »
Google
  • One of the busiest attractions in Dublin so I would suggest starting as early as possible. It was quiet for the first half hour whilst we looked at the exhibition element which has a lot of detailed boards to read but after that the school parties started arriving and it gets more frustrating if you want to read things or look up close. By the time you get to the book itself there is a degree of anti-climax because you aren't going to get much time on a busy day. Also there are only 2 versions on display so you will only see two pages and in very low light. Our hotel had a beautiful colour version on display which was actually a lot more enjoyable to look through at leisure. After this you will go upstairs to the Long Room of the old library at Trinity and this is really wonderful. It's all old wood, leather bound books, ladders and shelves leading up to the sky. This amazing antiquarian library was the inspiration for the Jedi library and feels like a Harry Potter film set. Obviously the books can't be reached but a selection of key texts, many of them anatomy or medical, are open in display cases. Really interesting to see the hand drawn and coloured illustrations and diagrams. As this is the end of the tour the crowds tend to dawdle here so it really is hard to get a decent photo. Nonetheless, it is a really atmospheric finish. Others have said this is an expensive exhibition but there is a lot of information and much to learn if you have the inclination.
  • The Book of Kells is filled with history. The room upstairs was beautiful and we were lucky to see them repairing some of the floor from who knows what year. Only gave a 4/5 because I'm not sure its worth the price of admission. I'd still tell you to see it because its worth seeing once.
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