I realized I haven’t done a post about new (to me) libraries in ages! Luckily I have been able to visit a variety of libraries in the last year, including a few in Ireland last May. They were all incredibly beautiful and I would encourage a visit to each and every one!
Trinity College – Old Library & Book of Kells
On our very first day (when we were still very jet-lagged) we made it to Trinity College and visited their library. The Old Library (which is mostly a showpiece and distinct from the more modern library that students use) contains the beautiful Long Room (which is a part of almost every “most beautiful libraries” list) and a display of the Book of Kells.
National Library of Ireland
On the day we decided to go to the National Archaeology Museum we got caught in a sudden rain shower and ducked in to the nearest building – which turned out to be the National Library of Ireland! Security was pretty tight and access is mostly limited to citizens and researchers, but it was a lovely building to weather the brief shower in.
A must-visit location was Marsh’s Library, a tiny library with a wealth of history. When it opened in 1707 Marsh’s was the first public library in Ireland! There are exhibits about James Joyce (who studied there) and books that still have bullets in them from the Easter Rising of 1916 (as the library was right in the line of fire). It also still has rare book research “cages” (which were used to make sure researchers didn’t steal the valuable materials). It is beautiful and full of wonderful volunteers (but unfortunately you aren’t allowed to take photos inside).
Chester Beatty Library
My last library destination was the Chester Beatty Library which features the accumulated collections of mining magnate Sir Alfred Chester Beatty. The exhibits include a variety of manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and some decorative arts from Islamic, East Asian, and Western history and the library is a center for scholarship in both the Old and New Testaments. Again, I was kept from taking photos of much besides the exterior!
I know what you’re thinking: Nicole, did you do anything in Ireland besides go to libraries? In fact I did! We really crammed a lot into the trip, including libraries, churches, historical sites, natural sites, and more!
Here’s a photo of me standing in a large tree on the grounds of the Blarney Castle (which was one of the most wonderful places we visited):
Anyway, I would highly recommend a visit to any of the aforementioned libraries. Each was magnificent and enlightening in its own way.