Bank of America Merrill Lynch announced that Trinity College Dublin Library will receive funding to conserve, research and digitise four early Irish manuscripts through the company’s 2014 global Art Conservation Project. Since 2010, Bank of America Merrill Lynch has provided grants to museums in 27 countries supporting 71 conservation projects. Once conserved the manuscripts will be made available via Trinity College Dublin Library’s digital collections and exhibited alongside the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and the Book of Armagh at Trinity College Dublin Library.
The grant will fund the treatment, technical examination, digitisation and art historical study of four of Trinity College Dublin Library’s most important early medieval Irish manuscripts, the Codex Usserianius Primus, the Garland of Howth, the Book of Dimma, and the Book of Mulling. These, along with the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and the Book of Armagh, make up the preeminent collection of early Christian book art in the Library.
- The Codex Usserianius Primus is the earliest known surviving Irish manuscript, dating back to the fifth century. It is recorded as an incomplete copy of the four Gospels on parchment.
- The Book of Dimma is a late eighth century manuscript on parchment, possibly produced at Roscrea, Co. Tipperary. It contains a copy of the four Gospels along with later tenth or eleventh century additions. The manuscript includes illuminated initials and portraits of the evangelists executed in red, yellow, blue and black pigments.
- The Book of Mulling is an eighth century pocket-gospel, with ninth century additions that is associated with the monastery of St Mullins in Co. Carlow. It contains a copy of the four Gospels, and features portraits of the evangelists Matthew, Mark and John, together with illuminated initials.
- The Garland of Howth is an eighth century parchment manuscript associated with St Nessan’s monastery on Ireland’s Eye and contains a copy of the four gospels. It features portraits of the evangelists and elaborated initials, with orange, white, yellow and blue pigments.
Susie Bioletti, Head of Conservation at Trinity College Dublin Library said, “This is the single most generous grant ever bestowed on the Library for the conservation of early Irish manuscripts, and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity it now affords us to concentrate our attention on four of our great treasures. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is to be applauded for this award to fund the preservation of these precious manuscripts that form such an important part of Irish heritage. Their grant will enable scholarship and public engagement with the manuscripts as we share these national treasures with our Irish and global visitors.”
“Our Art Conservation Project is designed not only to conserve artworks and shine a light on the need for the preservation of artistic and historic treasures, but also to educate communities, and convey respect for the varied cultures and traditions throughout the world,” said Andrea Sullivan, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for EMEA at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Peter Keegan, Country Executive for Ireland at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, added, “We are honoured to help conserve these important Irish Medieval manuscripts, with such cultural and historical significance to Ireland, through funding from our global Art Conservation Project. When complete, they will feature for the first time in a new display alongside the Book of Kells at the Trinity College Dublin Library, making them accessible for future generations of students, historians and visitors to appreciate and enjoy. It gives us great pleasure to work with Trinity College Dublin and expand our long-term programme of arts support in Ireland”.
In 2013, the company’s Art Conservation Project supported the restoration of a diverse range of works including Tudor portraits of Queen Elizabeth at the National Portrait Gallery in London; Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s ‘Diana’ at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; four portraits by John Butler Yeats at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin; three iconic Jackson Pollock paintings at Museum of Modern Art in New York; and Rembrandt’s ‘Scholar in his study’ at the National Gallery in Prague.