Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Beauty of the Trinity College Library

If you have been following this blog then you understand that I have an affinity for libraries. It truly does not matter if the building is purely functional and has no aesthetic beauty. That does not mean, however, that I do not appreciate the classical appeal of a truly magnificent building. Beauty certainly does add to the spiritual aura of the experience. In a building where great care and thought have gone into the planning of the layout, the grain of the cut wood, the positioning of the lighting, etc,  one can be wholly be transformed.

That was how I felt when I just glimpsed at the images of the Trinity College Library of Dublin, Ireland. Being Irish myself I felt a little pride when I looked through the images. I wish that I could just teleport myself there and take in the feeling of just standing in that room. I can just imagine the smell of the old books, leather and carpentry. That is the quintessential library. The amazing part of a building like this is that it can quite literally transport you back in time. Sure it is functional library with all the modern accouterments, but still the soul is still there and that is the important thing.

In addition to the outstanding spirit of knowledge that the Long Room of the old library (depicted above) evokes other exhibits have graced the library. The library being situated in Dublin is at the heart of Irish culture. The most famous cultural icon of Ireland is The Book of Kells and it is housed in that very library. The Book of Kells has been on display in the Trinity Library since the early 1800's and has been in possession of the library since 1661 when the book was given to the library for safekeeping. The book itself is an vulgate edition of the gospels. The origin of the book is highly debated amongst scholars. One account has the book being written in part or full in a monastery founded by St. Columba on the Isle of Iona. Iona was an Irish settlement in Southern Scotland and a highly cultural Christian center. St. Columba was a driving force in the conversion of the Picts (His story a fascinating tale in itself.). At the time of the writing of the book Viking raiders were pillaging the rich monasteries which dotted along the coasts. As a result the treasures of the precariously positioned spiritual center of Celtic Christianity were removed and transferred to safer locations.

The Book of Kells was transported to the Abbey in Kells where it garnered its name. That Abbey was pillaged several times in the 10th Century by the Vikings who by then were penetrating further into Britannia. It is not known how it survived, but it did. Well, the book's luck did not last forever when it was stolen and its golden covering forcibly removed damaging the book and losing several of its folios in the process. However, it was found and returned to the Abbey were it remained until the English Civil War and the reign of Oliver Cromwell. It was during that period when  the quartering of a regiment of Cromwell's cavalry in the Abbey prompted the governor of the region of Kells to move the book.  The book was sent to Dublin for safekeeping.

How is that for a story? Medieval Monasteries and Saints to rampaging Vikings to Oliver Cromwell...

I just want to say that this library is added to the list!!

I just want to say that the external photos of the building are just as cool and I invite you to take a look.

Here is another rather cool link to check out detailing the establishment of Trinity College. Click Me!

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