The Old Library
The Long Room
The main chamber of the Old Library is the Long Room, and at nearly 65 metres in length, it is filled with 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books. When built (between 1712 and 1732) it had a flat plaster ceiling and shelving for books was on the lower level only, with an open gallery. By the 1850s these shelves had become completely full; largely as since 1801 the Library had been given the right to claim a free copy of every book published in Britain and Ireland. In 1860 the roof was raised to allow construction of the present barrel-vaulted ceiling and upper gallery bookcases.
Marble busts line the Long Room, a collection that began in 1743 when 14 busts were commissioned from sculptor Peter Schemakers. The busts are of the great philosophers and writers of the western world and also of men connected with Trinity College - famous and not so famous. The finest bust in the collection is of the writer Jonathan Swift by Louis Francois Roubiliac.
Other treasures in the Long Room include one of the few remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic which was read outside the General Post Office on 24 April 1916 by Patrick Pearse at the start of the Easter Rising. The harp is the oldest of its kind in Ireland and probably dates from the 15th century. It is made of oak and willow with 29 brass strings. It is the model for the emblem of Ireland.
The band of gold lettering below the gallery commemorates benefactors of the 17th and 18th centuries:
- James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh
- King Charles II
- William Palliser, Archbishop of Cashel
- Claudius Gilbert
- Theophilius Butler
There are temporary exhibitions held in the Long Room which display the rich holdings of the Library and encourage further research.