The Book of Kells and the Old Library Exhibition, Dublin

4.2
#5 of 5,220 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
21,766 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • A great time to visit is January. You can take lots of great photos without getting into the frame by other people. A beautiful place, climate difficult to describe, it's a must see.  more »
  • A stop at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and the Long Room is a must on any Dublin itinerary. Unfortunately, the Book of Kells was not on display when I was there in January. I believe it...  more »
  • We knew the Book of Kells was not on display when we visited but the exhibit was still very interesting. The still in use Old Library reminded my of something from a Harry Potter movie.  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.
  • The Book of Kells? More like The Book of Swells. What an incredibly beautiful piece of art. I believe it was around 15 euro to get in--well worth it. I really enjoyed the artwork exhibited before you get in to see the actual book. I took a bunch of pictures of the Renaissance style prints and I send them to my buddy to describe my current mood.
  • I appreciate they only let people in by small batches, but it's still so crowded you can hardly meander around, and really takes away from the experience. Not necessarily the fault of the exhibit, but bear it in mind if you expect to not constantly have people brushing against you or being completely in your way.
  • They have a good exhibit that explains the books history in detail. Unfortunately when I went the actual Book of Kells wasn't on display, but they did give a discount because of this which was nice. The library is beautiful as well. The harp in the library is the oldest is Ireland and is very interesting as well.
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11 days in Ireland, Belfast & Bushmills BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES September, popular sights PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 7 days in Ireland BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, popular sights PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 31 days in Western Europe BY A USER FROM CANADA May, popular sights PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 16 days in Ireland BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular sights PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 22 days in United Kingdom & Ireland BY A USER FROM NETHERLANDS August, teens, kids, popular sights PREFERENCES: August, teens, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 9 days in Ireland BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular sights PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 42 days in Western Europe BY A USER FROM CANADA March, popular sights PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 31 days in Ireland BY A USER FROM ISRAEL June, popular sights PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 15 days in Ireland BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA July, kids, popular sights PREFERENCES: July, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 28 days in United Kingdom & Ireland BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA May, popular sights PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 13 days in Ireland BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES March, popular sights PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 12 days in Ireland BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA May, popular sights PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium
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