"" Writer's Wanderings: Dublin - The Book of Kells

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dublin - The Book of Kells

Dublin's red Hop on Hop off bus took us round the block where Trinity College is located. The college was chartered back in 1592 and experienced a bit of a rocky start in the 1600s. But the 18th century brought a bit of peace in Ireland and the college's academic roots took hold and flourished. In 1904, the first women students were admitted to the college and not without a little Irish humor and wit to the story.

We toured the campus with a student who pointed out the various historical buildings on site and of course with a crooked Irish grin, explained that the Dean who was in charge when women were struggling to be admitted to the college stated firmly that "women will be admitted to Trinity over my dead body." In 1904, the dean died and a few months later, women were finally admitted. As the story goes, the dean's body was buried where women would enter campus from their dormitory thus stepping over the dean's body, so to speak.

Our guide smiled again and shook his head. "Of course that's not true, he's not buried on campus. But it does make a good story."

At the end of our tour of the main area of campus, our guide pointed out the old library where the Book of Kells is located and we entered to view the ninth century gospel manuscript with its colorful hand drawn illustrations. The manuscript comes from a monastery founded in 561 by St. Colum Cille on Iona which is a small island off the coast of Scotland. When the Vikings invaded in the early 800s, the monks moved to Kells where they finished the manuscript.

I was a bit disappointed in the exhibition. There was mostly just large eight foot high banners showing pictures of the illustrations in the book. Something I could have seen more clearly online. The manuscript itself was open to one page of illustration and one of text (in Latin, of course) and was perhaps 16" X 18". Maybe my long hours of travel and no sleep were getting to me. I felt like a little of our precious time in Dublin was wasted--until we entered the old library.

My heart breaks that I couldn't take a picture of it but I did find one online here. I understand that they are trying to preserve the old volumes there and too many people take pictures using flash. But if you are a fan of the Harry Potter movies and you recall Hermione wandering through an old library for books on spells, that is what this library resembled. Down the center was an exhibition of old books from physicians and teachers of the old school of medicine--always a delight to see how far we have come since then.

With our heads bobbing as we fought to keep our eyes open, we found our way back to the DART station and boarded a train for the 20 minute ride to Howth where our B&B was. Just across from the car park was a restaurant that looked good for dinner and we climbed the stairs to the second floor for a seat overlooking the harbor of Howth filled with fishing boats and seagulls clamoring for the leftovers from the day's catch. After a delicious meal of mussels and fish and chips, we were ready to call it a day.

Sure there was more to Dublin to see--the castle, the pubs. But it would have to wait for another opportunity. Just a reason to have to return.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...