Book of Kells celebrates its one millionth visitor for 2018
7th November 2018
Trinity College Dublin announced its one millionth visitor today to the Book of Kells and Old Library Exhibition for 2018. This is the first time that one million visitors have visited the Book of Kells Exhibition in a given year.
The one millionth visitor is Cassie Clemans who has travelled with her husband Andy from Bend, Oregon, USA. They are celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary in Ireland. Describing her delight on viewing the Book of Kells she said:
“I am thrilled to be the one millionth visitor today to The Book of Kells Exhibition, and to see first-hand one of the greatest treasures of medieval Europe. The Old Library was spectacular too. My husband and I were sure to make this part of our itinerary in Dublin as we own a bookshop in Bend and we are very interested in all things book related.”
Visitors from the US are the largest international group to visit the Book of Kells Exhibition annually, and make up 36% of the total visitor figures accounting for 360,920 visitors this year.
Recent surveys by Fáilte Ireland show Americans are primarily drawn to Ireland’s living culture, history, heritage and scenery. This explains why such a large proportion visit the Book of Kells Exhibition to view first hand Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure. It plays an important role in developing Dublin as a major tourist destination and driving the national economy. Increasing American visitors have contributed to an overall €1.7 billion in exchequer revenue for the Irish economy generated by overseas visitors in 2018.
Domestic Irish visitors make up the second largest group accounting for 122,299 visitors. Tourists from EU countries such as Germany, Italy and France account for a significant percentage at 20% or a total of 201,200 visitors, while 68,166 tourists came from the UK this year.
Housed in the Old Library on the Trinity College Dublin campus, the Book of Kells has been on display since the mid-19th century. The Book of Kells Exhibition provides visitors with an opportunity to view the precious 9th century manuscript, showing Latin text and intricate illuminations. Visitors also view other rare manuscripts as part of the exhibition, as well as experiencing the Long Room, one of the most famous libraries in the world.
The Book of Kells Exhibition has seen a continuous growth in figures with total visitor numbers increasing annually. In the last four years alone there has been an increase from 662,679 visitors in 2014 to one million today, an increase of 50%. 2018 saw figures increase even further after the high-profile visit of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on July 11th this year driving a busier than expected summer.
Librarian and College Archivist at Trinity College Dublin, Helen Shenton said:
“The continuing fascination with the Book of Kells is a reminder that people from all countries draw inspiration from Ireland's past. We are very conscious of being stewards of probably the most famous medieval manuscript in the world. We are introducing the rotation of other important manuscripts from our collection to complement the Book of Kells and further enhance the exhibition as a major visitor experience in Dublin. We are equally conscious that visitors from around the world are awed and inspired by the Long Room, often called ‘the most beautiful room in Ireland.”
Commenting on today’s figures, Trinity’s Chief Operating Officer Geraldine Ruane said:
“We are delighted to welcome our one millionth visitor to The Book of Kells this year, a key milestone for the exhibition and something which has never been reached previously. This demonstrates once again the cultural importance of the Book of Kells and visitor’s eagerness to engage with an important piece of Irish history. Funds generated by ticket sales go directly to supporting the University, including the maintenance of its historic campus and most importantly the overall academic mission of teaching and research.”