Trinity College Dublin Library
Home of Book of Kells, Book of Durrow, Book of Dimma, Book of Leinster, Medieval Illuminated Gospel Manuscripts.

Trinity College Dublin Library
Home of "The Book of Kells"

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) (Coláiste na Tríonóide), Ireland's oldest university, was founded in Dublin in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. It is the foremost Irish University and is among the most respected English-speaking universities in the world. It includes a number of historic buildings of architectural merit, such as the Museum designed by the Irish architects Deane and Woodward, and the Chapel designed by Sir William Chambers. Its art collection contains numerous examples of outstanding Irish painting. See also: Best Art Schools.


Like the British Library in London, TCD Library is legally entitled to a copy of each book published in the UK (and Ireland), receiving more than 100,000 new volumes every year. Its total of books now exceeds 4.5 million books, including numerous collections of rare manuscripts. A recent addition to the facility is the €27 million James Ussher Library, opened in 2003. The new section accomodates the Glucksman Map Library containing 500,000 printed maps, including the nineteenth Ordnance Surveys of Ireland. Also on display is one of the dozen or so remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, which was read out aloud by Patrick Pearse outside the General Post Office on 24 April 1916 at the start of the Easter Rising.

The library itself has 3 basic roles: as a university library it serves the needs of the College's under and postgraduate students; it is also a research library of international repute, providing rare material to scholars from over the world. And finally, it provides an information service to government departments, research organizations as well as visual arts, technical, industrial and commercial bodies within Ireland.

Visual Art Treasures

Among the library's great collection of literary and visual art from Ireland, are manuscripts dating from the thirteenth century BCE - over 240 manuscripts in Irish including the famous Book of Leinster. Also collated are third century BCE Egyptian papyrus scrolls, unique medieval Gospel manuscripts, as well as rare writings and notebooks by authors such as Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett. In the 18th century, the college received the Brian Boru harp, one of the three surviving medieval Gaelic harps, and a national symbol of Ireland, notably used on the Irish Euro coins.

Book of Kells

Located in the Old Library, Trinity College's most famous treasure is the Book of Kells (c.800), one of the best surviving illuminated manuscripts in the Hiberno-Saxon style of Insular art. Considered to be one of the finest works of early Christian art, it marks the third step (after the Newgrange engravings, and the ornamental gold objects of Irish Bronze Age Art) in the history of Irish art. Other examples of monastic Irish art at TCD include: the Book of Durrow (c.670) and the Book of Dimma (c.625) which, while earlier, are much less spectacular than the Book of Kells.

Visual Archive and Digital Art

Central to TCD's digital archive is the Crookshank-Glin Collection which was gifted to the library by Anne Crookshank, Professor Emeritus of the History of Art, and Desmond FitzGerald the Knight of Glin. Incorporating a collection of 45,000 photographic images, correspondence, as well as notebooks and exhibition catalogues, it forms the most extensive image collection of Irish painting anywhere in the world.

Douglas Hyde Gallery

The Douglas Hyde Gallery, part of the Trinity College Campus, has no permanent collection but prefers to change exhibitions regularly to reflect contemporary art. They focus on emerging Irish and foreign artists. 2010 exhibitors include Stephen Shore, Dana Schutz and Jockum Nordstrom. The Gallery also hosts small exhibitions of ethnographic and craft artifacts in Gallery 2: exhibitors include Eugene Von Bruenchenhein and the American modernist Agnes Martin.

• For facts about the art industry in Ireland, see: Homepage.
• For biographies of the top painters and sculptors, see: Famous Irish Artists.
• For a personal view of the top 20 contemporary fine art painters in Ireland, see: Best Irish Artists.
• For details of museums and contemporary arts venues, see: Irish Art Galleries.

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