There have been serious issues with leaks and damp in the 1937 Reading Room for some time. The Library has been working with Estates and Facilities to put together a programme of works to address these issues and ensure the long-term viability of the building. This will require the closure of the main reading room area from next Monday 22nd May for the coming months, and temporary closures of adjacent spaces, particularly in the early and late phases of the project. It is anticipated that the main reading room will fully reopen in September 2023 – an exact date will be communicated later in the summer when Estates & Facilities are in a position to confirm the project end point.
While the project is underway, alternative study spaces will be available on campus to ensure that our postgraduate students will always have somewhere comfortable to work, both during the day and overnight:
Monday 22nd May – Sunday 11th June
The Berkeley and Lecky libraries will be available from 09:30 to 17:00 (note: the Ussher Library will be closed during this time for essential works but you can request books held in the Ussher by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The HamiltonLibrary will be available on a 24/7 basis (here is a video to show you how to get there)
Monday 12th June to the end of the summer
The Berkeley, Lecky and Ussher libraries will be available from 09:30-17:00
Kinsella Hall (floors 1-3 of the Ussher Library), will be available on a 24/7 basis
While the kitchen, toilets, PC room, group study area, side corridors and lockers will need to be closed occasionally for short periods of time (usually just a day or two), they will remain generally accessible throughout the summer on a 24/7 basis. Postgraduate students will be given as much advanced notice as possible about these temporary closures.
Addressing leaks and damp in the 1937 Reading Room is an important health and safety measure that will improve the experience for those who rely on the various facilities within the building. But as with any historical protected structure, renovation works will be challenging. Estates and Facilities have advised that timelines, especially with regard to temporary closures of specific spaces, may be subject to change. The Library website and social media platforms will be used to keep the postgraduate community up to date on developments.
On this special day, International Women’s Day, the Library is delighted to share with you a video of highlights of the historic launch of the first sculptures of women in the Old Library which took place on St Brigid’s Day, 1st February 2023. The film includes fascinating insights of the artists creating the sculptures in their studios, and a flavour of the inspiringly uplifting evening.
The new sculptures represent the scientist, Rosalind Franklin; the folklorist, dramatist, and theatre-founder Augusta Gregory; the pioneering women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft and the mathematician Ada Lovelace.
There is also a follow on ‘In Conversation’ with the artists and Trinity champions of the scholars hosted by the Trinity Long Room Hub. The artists are Rowan Gillespie, Maudie Brady, Guy Reid and Vera Klute. They were joined by Vice- Provost/Chief Academic Officer, Professor Orla Sheils, Dean of Arts Humanities & Social Sciences, Professor Gail McElroy, Professor of Visual Computing, Carol O’Sullivan and Associate Professor in Drama Studies, Melissa Sihra in a riveting discussion on the new sculptures as part of the University’s celebrations on 2nd February 2023.
An Post issued two stamps featuring illustrations from the Book of Kells this week. The brightly coloured stamps show the profile of the lion, a reoccurring image in the manuscript, symbolising Christ and the resurrection.
Unveiling the stamps at Trinity College Dublin, Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, Jack Chambers, said:“The stamps feature some of our most recognisable and iconic heritage images. As we approach St Patrick’s day, that global celebration of Irish culture, these stamps will carry these beautiful details from the Book of Kells to every corner of the globe.”
Librarian & College Archivist at the Library of Trinity College Dublin, Helen Shenton added: “We are delighted these exquisite images from the Book of Kells will feature in An Post’s Stamp for Ireland series marking St Patrick’s Day. The Book of Kells is an iconic symbol of Irish identity worldwide and it is very fitting that such beautifully illustrated stamps communicate with those living in Ireland and abroad.”
Details of stamp imagery
W – international rate stamp features a detail from the Book of Kells folio 124r (detail of profile lion.) The Physiologus, a 4th-century Greek text describing animals and their symbolic qualities, was a source of inspiration for the Irish monks working on the Book of Kells. According to the Physiologus the lion cub was born dead, but on the third day was revived by the father lion breathing on its face. This was a potent analogy for the resurrection of Christ three days after his crucifixion.
N – national rate stamp features a detail from the Book of Kells folio 114v (detail of profile lion.) The detail of the profile of the lion’s head is taken from a page of display text introducing the passage in which Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives and foretells his abandonment by his disciples and his resurrection. The border of this folio is filled with snakes and dominating it all is the striking profile head of the lion, symbol of Christ and his resurrection.
The First Day Cover envelope features a more sedate image from the manuscript and shows a domestic cat chasing a rat, which has managed to snatch a communion host into its mouth. Cats were kept as pets during the time the Book of Kells was created and the monks may have kept them to help preserve the food stores in the monastery
On St Brigid’s Day Trinity College Dublin installed four new sculptures in its Old Library to honour the scholarship of four trailblazing women.
The women represented are the scientist Rosalind Franklin, the folklorist, dramatist and theatre-founder Augusta Gregory, the mathematician Ada Lovelace and the pioneering women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft.
The new sculptures, the first to be commissioned in more than a century, will be displayed among the 40 marble sculpture-busts that line Trinity’s historic Long Room, which were hitherto all of men. The current artworks represent men throughout history, from Homer and Shakespeare to Dean Jonathan Swift, Sir Rowan Hamilton and Wolfe Tone.
The new sculptures were launched by Trinity’s Chancellor Dr Mary McAleese at a ceremony in the Long Room.
Their addition represents a first step toward a better representation of our diversity in all of Trinity’s public spaces.
Rowan Gillespie’s sculpture of Mary Wollstonecraft was modelled in wax, 3-d-scanned, milled in Carrara marble and then carved and fine finished. Rowan is known for his work in bronze and this is the first time he carved in marble since his student years.
Maudie Brady’s sculpture of Ada Lovelace was modelled originally in clay, then 3-d scanned and carved from a block of statuary Carrara marble by computer-programming, and, finished by hand. Maudie thought it would be apt for Lovelace, as a mathematician and, effectively, the first ‘computer programmer’ to be represented using techniques enabled by computer programmes and algorithms, book-ended by modelling initially in clay, and, finishing the marble sculpture by hand.
Guy Reid’s sculpture of Augusta Gregory was hand-carved in lime wood. Guy’s practice is focused singularly on portraiture, and is inspired by medieval, coloured wooden sculptures, resulting in painted depictions of family and friends, alongside special commissions.
Vera Klute’s sculpture has been created in three sections with classical and contemporary techniques. The portrait is made with cast Parian (a type of porcelain) Jesmonite, marble, and Swarovski crystals, the latter making direct references to Franklin’s use of x-ray crystallography to research the structure of DNA. The helix of the socle is a visual nod to Franklin’s contribution to the discovery of the helical form of DNA.
Librarian and College Archivist, Helen Shenton and also Chair of the Artist Selection Panel welcomed the College community, sculptors and invited guests to the packed launch event:
“On this auspicious day, St Brigid’s Day, we celebrate women’s scholarship with these sculptures in the Long Room of the Old Library. Their individual contributions to knowledge and to society will now be permanently honoured in this cathedral of learning at the heart of Trinity.”
Provost Dr Linda Doyle stressed the historic significance of the occasion:
“While it is important to respect tradition, it is also important to break tradition. The addition of these sculptures of women has been a long time coming. I want to thank everyone involved in the creation and installation of these beautiful pieces. Sculptures are an iconic feature of Trinity’s Long Room, and I hope that the inclusion of these four outstanding women is the furthering of a collective recognition of the incredible contribution of women across many fields.”
In an uplifting inauguration, Chancellor poignantly quoted the 18th century Irish poet Antaine Ó Raifteirí in her speech:
“Anois teacht an Earraigh beidh an lá dul chun síneadh, Is tar eis na féile Bríde ardóigh mé mo sheol”.
“Spring is coming. The days are lengthening and after Brigid’s feast day, I will raise my sail. We are the lucky generation to be here to see the springtide. To see Brigid’s sail raised to catch the wind, to see great women given the respect and recognition they deserve. Congratulations to all those who have helped open the floodgates which will one day see full justice done to the work and talent of women everywhere.”
The four women being honoured were chosen in 2020 from more than 500 nominations by students, staff, and alumni covering a wide field of ground-breaking individuals who contributed significantly to scholarship and culture across history.
In 2021, after an extensive national and international shortlisting process, nine artists were invited and supported financially to submit maquettes (preliminary models) of at least two of the nominated women, from which the four artists were chosen.
An ‘In Conversation’ event with the artists and Trinity champions of the scholars also took place in the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Institute the following day on 2nd February 2023 (more information here).
More about the portrait candidates:
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)
Mary Wollstonecraft was a pioneering women’s rights advocate, and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), often considered a foundational text for women’s rights movements. Radical for her time, she argued that all humans have the faculties of rational thought and reason. She also argued that women must be allowed to be educated and to contribute equally to society, stating in A Vindication, “my main argument is built on this simple principle, that if she be not prepared by education to become the companion of man, she will stop the progress of knowledge and virtue.”
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was the author of an 1843 monograph on Charles Babbage’s design for the first analytical engine (general-purpose computer). To her translation of Menabrea’s report of a presentation made by Babbage in Turin she added her famous Notes, highlighting the potential and flexibility of an analytical engine compared to a calculator. These Notes included an algorithm for computing Bernouilli numbers and presaged computer-generated music, a century before Alan Turing proved that such achievements required properties now intrinsic to computers, which Babbage’s design possessed. Ada Lovelace’s unique contribution was to publish the first recognition of the capacity of a computer to make logical deductions about both numerical and non-numerical objects.
Augusta Gregory (1852 -1932)
Lady Gregory became one of the most significant intellectual and creative powerhouses of the Irish Literary Revival. Her work as a writer, dramatist, theatre-founder, champion of the Irish language, translator, folklorist, and social commentator helped define and give voice to the tenets of cultural nationalism in the years leading up to, and after, the establishment of the Irish Free State. Today, scholars look to Augusta Gregory’s ground-breaking work for its artistry, for insights into the country’s complex revolutionary period and to explore the role of language and literature in defining Irish identity as distinct, self-determining, and heroic, both nationally and internationally.
Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) Rosalind Franklin’s scientific discoveries have benefited humanity in several ways. As a fundamental experimentalist, excelling in X-ray crystallography, and despite a career cut short by premature death at the age of 37, she made two seminal contributions: her impeccable analysis generated key measurements for one of the most transformative advances of the 20th century, uncovering the structure of DNA. Her later work had an equally pivotal impact on revealing the structure of RNA viruses, including early work on the Polio virus. Discoveries in both areas contributed to the awarding of Nobel prizes after her death, though not to her (they cannot be awarded posthumously). While her name is often connected with missing out on a Nobel prize, her legacy is of much greater significance.
The monumental task of decanting the Library collections commenced last Spring as part of the Old Library Redevelopment Project.
All of the Library’s Research Collections housed in the Old Library are being transferred to special storage. This means removing 350,000 Early Printed books and a total of 700,000 collection items as part of the Library collections.
A series of timelapses are capturing the painstaking work of the Library team involved in the project. So far almost 3.5 km of books stacked side by side have been removed or 32% of the overall project. There is a target of over 10.5 km in the overall project. That means just 7 km to go.
Readers will continue to have access to all material in an Interim Research Collections Study Centre during the lifetime of the building conservation project.
2022 will be a year to remember for the Library of Trinity College Dublin. The monumental task of decanting the Library collections commenced last Spring as part of the Old Library Redevelopment Project.
All of the Library’s Research Collections housed in the Old Library are being transferred to special storage. This means removing 350,000 Early Printed books and a total of 700,000 collection items as part of the Library collections. Readers will continue to have access to all material in an Interim Research Collections Study Centre during the lifetime of the building conservation project.
The decant, led by the Library team, is a massive operation, with more than 50 Library staff assisted by over 25 project assistants. Significant care and consideration goes into moving a collection of this scale and the dedication of the Library team is impressive.
This is one of the largest decants of a heritage building in Ireland. As part of the decant process, each book is carefully cleaned with a specialised vacuum, measured, electronically tagged and linked to an online catalogue record, before being safely relocated to a climate-controlled storage facility.
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan visited the Old Library in October to see at close quarters the monumental task.
The Old Library Redevelopment Project is a transformative undertaking and is ensuring this 18th century Old Library building and its collections are conserved for the next century.
One of the largest decants of a heritage building in Ireland − 350,000 early printed books and 700,000 collection items
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan visited the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin yesterday [October 19th] to see at close quarters the monumental task of decanting the Library collections as part of the Old Library Redevelopment Project.
In order for the landmark conservation project to start, all of the Library’s Research Collections housed in the Old Library must be transferred to special storage. This means removing 350,000 Early Printed books and a total of 700,000 items as part of the Library collections. Readers will continue to have access to all material in an Interim Research Collections Study Centre during the lifetime of the building conservation project. It is one of the largest decant processes to take place of a heritage building in Ireland.
Minister for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan was joined by Trinity Provost, Dr Linda Doyle, Bursar, Professor Eleanor Denny, Librarian & College Archivist, Helen Shenton during the visit and met with the Library team involved in the historic project.
As part of the decant process, each book is carefully cleaned with a specialised vacuum, measured, electronically tagged and linked to an online catalogue record, before being safely relocated to a climate-controlled storage facility.
Minister Noonan said on the occasion of the visit:“I am delighted to be here today, witnessing this historic once in a lifetime decant as it unfolds.We have a shared responsibility towards our cultural heritage and Trinity College Dublin through this conservation project is ensuring this 18th century Old Library building and its collections are conserved for the next century. Significant care and consideration goes into moving a collection of this scale and the dedication of the Library team is impressive.”
Provost, Dr Linda Doyle said:“The Old Library Redevelopment Project is a transformative undertaking which will preserve this priceless cultural institution for the next generation and beyond. The decant, led by the Library team, is a massive operation, with more than 50 Library staff assisted by over 25 project assistants. It marks a key stage in this transformative redevelopment project.”
Minister Noonan met with Library staff who designed the project and are now carrying it out, helped by project assistants. The project assistants busily working away in the Long Room are early career archivists, conservators and museum professionals from across the country and internationally.
The first book to be decanted was a 19th century publication, ‘Reeves’ History of the English law: from the time of the Romans to the end of the reign of Elizabeth’ and many more have followed.
“This is a particularly complex and sensitive decant. There are so many precious books, manuscripts and objects held in the vast collections, which extend over many centuries. Imagine a house move at scale – thousands of times bigger and more complicated in order to move 700,000 items,” explained the Librarian and College Archivist, Helen Shenton.
Trinity Bursar, Professor Eleanor Denny is Chair of the Old Library Redevelopment Project and is leading the project for the University along with all other construction projects on campus:
“The decant process is critical for the next stage of the restoration project. Once complete, the Old Library will close at the end of Autumn 2023 and the urgent structural and environmental upgrades can then take place over a three-year period. It is a once in a lifetime project, and it will future-proof both the 18th century building and its collections for the 22nd century and beyond.” said Professor Denny.
The Library of Trinity College Dublin makes a 13th century masterpiece globally accessible
One of the most finely illustrated medieval manuscripts, Matthew Paris’s Book of St Albans has been digitised by the Library of Trinity College Dublin for the first time. The 13th century masterpiece features 54 individual works of medieval art and has fascinated readers across the centuries, from royalty to renaissance scholars.
The precious manuscript survived the chaos and trauma of the dissolution of the monasteries and came to Trinity College Dublin in 1661.
Created by the renowned scribe, the Benedictine monk, Matthew Paris of St Albans Abbey in England, the manuscript chronicles the life of St Alban, the first Christian martyr in England. It also outlines the construction of St Albans cathedral.
The monastery at St Albans was one of the most important in the country. It was a major site of pilgrimage receiving many pilgrims from Ireland.
The book was held in St Albans Abbey for 300 years until the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539.
All other precious manuscripts by Matthew Paris are held in the British Library, and the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Chetham’s Library Manchester.
The Book of St Albans was a high-status book, viewed by King Henry VI. Written in Latin it also contains Anglo-Norman French which made it accessible to a wider secular audience including educated noble women.
It was borrowed by noble ladies of the period, including the King’s sister-in-law Countess of Cornwall, Sanchia of Provence, and others.
The content at times gruesome, include illustrations featuring the decapitation of St Alban and his executioner whose eyes literally pop out of his head at the point of execution.
The artwork consisting of mostly framed narrative scenes, is a tinted drawing technique where outlined drawings are highlighted with coloured washes from a limited palette. This technique was distinctly English, dating back to Anglo Saxon art of the 10th century.
From St Albans Abbey, it came into the ownership of the Elizabethan Royal adviser and astronomer, John Dee, following which it was sold to James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, and subsequently came to Trinity with his library in 1661. It has remained in the Library of Trinity College Dublin for over 350 years.
For the first time, this manuscript is now fully digitised and available online, a process which has been undertaken through the Virtual Trinity Library initiative as part of its Manuscripts for Medieval Studies project funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York.
The Book of St Albans has been fully digitised ahead of the feast day of St Alban, tomorrow Wednesday, 22nd June.
Commenting on its significance, Librarian & College Archivist, Helen Shenton said:
“The Library of Trinity College Dublin is delighted to make this medieval masterpiece accessible to a global audience. For the first time in history, this exquisite manuscript by one of the world’s most famous medieval artists and chroniclers, Matthew Paris may be viewed digitally revealing its beautiful artistry in full colour. As part of the Virtual Trinity Library’s Manuscripts for Medieval Studies project it contributes to teaching and research at Trinity College Dublin and has fostered collaboration with other universities and libraries.”
Virtual Trinity Library is a digitisation initiative of the Library of Trinity College Dublin’s most valued collections. It will conserve, catalogue, curate, digitise and research these unique collections of national importance, making them accessible to a global audience, from schoolchildren to scholars.
Manuscripts Curator, Estelle Gittins said: “This astonishing manuscript contains some of the most incredible medieval art, it is a window into an elaborate world of saints, kings and knights, but also sailors, builders and bell ringers. Before now the only way to study all of the images in this important manuscript was to consult the rare, black and white, 1924 facsimile edition,it is so exciting that this can now be viewed and enjoyed by everyone at the click of a button.”
Virtual Trinity Library’sManuscripts for Medieval Studies project which was philanthropically supported by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York, has focussed on 16 medieval manuscripts of international research significance. The manuscripts are used for teaching on the Trinity M. Phil in Medieval Studies course. The selection demonstrates the breadth and variety of the Library’s collections of source material for the study of the art, history, culture, language and literature of the medieval period, and the history of the book in particular.
Other works digitised as part of this project include the highly decorated 12th century manuscript, the Winchcombe Psalter and surviving manuscripts of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury and Salisbury Cathedral, medieval music from Britain and Ireland, and a rare 15th-century life of St Thomas Becket.
Bank of America announced that the Library of Trinity College Dublin will receive funding to conserve, research and digitise the Book of Leinster, a 12th century parchment manuscript. It is one of the most important manuscripts written in Irish to have survived from the early medieval period and is of incalculable value to the history of Ireland and the Irish language.
The award is being made through the company’s 2022 global Art Conservation Project. Other prestigious international projects to receive funding include the restoration of Notre Dame, the Michelangelo drawing ‘Epifania cartoon’ at the British Museum and Edvard Munch’s ‘Vampire’ at the Munch Museum in Norway among others across the world.
Commenting on the significance of the award, Librarian & College Archivist, Helen Shenton said: “The Library of Trinity College Dublin’s collection of over 200 medieval and early modern manuscripts written in the Irish language is ranked as one of the most important collections in the world. Covering over a thousand years of Irish literature and learning, they shine a light on how Irish society operated, how our ancestors interacted with each other, what stories and myths they told about themselves and how they saw themselves on the world stage. Once conserved the Book of Leinster will form part of the Library’s major digitisation project, the Virtual Trinity Library and will be made globally accessible online.”
The Book of Leinster, written in the 12th century, is the earliest manuscript in the Library’s collection written entirely in Irish and one of the most important manuscripts of the early Irish period. Written by the ‘prime historian of Leinster’, Áed Úa Crimthainn, abbot of Terryglass, Co. Tipperary, it was formerly known as the Lebor na Nuachongbála or ‘Book of Nuachongbáil’, a monastic site known today as Oughaval in Co. Laois.
Fernando Vicario, CEO Bank of America Europe DAC and Country Executive for Ireland said: “We are honoured to once again support the Library of Trinity College Dublin. This year’s partnership sees the conservation, research and digitisation of the Book of Leinster, an invaluable medieval Irish manuscript. Previously, funding was awarded for four significant manuscripts, the Codex Usserianus Primus, the Garland of Howth, the Book of Dimma, and the Book of Mulling. Through our commitment to the arts and this continued partnership, we hope that millions of people around the world will be able to access and enjoy these cultural treasures.”
The manuscript is an anthology of prose, verse, genealogy, medical knowledge, and place-name lore. It contains the Irish ‘book of genesis’, Lebor Gabála Érenn, which establishes the place of Ireland, the Irish people and their language in a biblical world setting. A very important version of the saga An Táin Bó Cúailnge and the story of Cú Chulainn is also included in the collection.
Keeper of Preservation and Conservation, Susie Bioletti said: “Bank of America’s support will enable the painstaking conservation of one of our most fragile and important 12th century Irish manuscripts. Currently inaccessible due to risk of damage if handled. The treatment will stabilise the parchment, and repair extensive losses and tears allowing the manuscript to be resewn and rebound. This transformation will enable researchers to engage with the manuscript and catalyse research on the materials, decoration, text and meaning of a complex and fascinating record from the early Middle Ages.”
Since 2010, Bank of America’s Art Conservation Project has supported the conservation of more than 6,000 individual pieces including paintings, sculptures, and archaeological and architectural pieces of critical importance to cultural heritage and the history of art. More than 200 projects across 39 countries have been managed by not-for-profit cultural institutions that receive grant funding to conserve historically or culturally significant works of art that are in danger of deterioration.
This is the second time that the Library of Trinity College Dublin has been awarded funding by Bank of America through its Art Conservation Project. In 2014 funding was awarded for its early medieval Irish manuscripts, the Codex Usserianus Primus, the Garland of Howth, the Book of Dimma, and the Book of Mulling dating from the 5th-9th centuries in a similar project that conserved, researched and digitised these precious manuscripts.
It is with deep sadness that we have learned of the death of our friend and one of lreland’s major poets, Brendan Kennelly.
Brendan Kennelly was a poet, a professor, a public figure, cultural commentator, and a mentor to many. Throughout his life on the Trinity campus he was also a great friend to the Library of Trinity College Dublin.
Trinity College Dublin honoured his immense contribution to Irish life with a celebratory online event on his 85th birthday in April of this year. The Brendan Kennelly Literary Archive was also launched on the occasion of the event. With the appointment of an archivist in the Library in the Spring to oversee the cataloguing of the poet’s papers, this unique collection will be made available to students and scholars.
The celebratory event which was organised at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, during our last lockdown, featured a read message from the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins along with selected poems recited by celebrated singer, Bono, poet, Paula Meehan and Trinity student Lily O’Byrne. We were especially honoured that Brendan himself attended online from Kerry where he spent his final years. The event also prompted members of the public to contribute further items to this constantly expanding archive.
The Brendan Kennelly Literary Archive reflects all of the facets of Brendan Kennelly’s life. His work, with roots in early twentieth-century rural traditions, developed to give a voice to the marginalised urban dweller, as well as difficult historical characters such as Judas and Oliver Cromwell. The poet’s own private life has often involved struggle and triumph, both of which he has shared freely and publicly, giving encouragement to many in their own personal struggles. Professor Kennelly’s teaching influenced generations of scholars, teachers, parents, and citizens and he has always been unfailingly encouraging to younger poets, from Paula Meehan to Leanne O’Sullivan. The collection contains literary drafts, lectures, research materials, reviews, workshop material, works by others, theatrical ephemera, personal material, photographs, memorabilia, and a great quantity of correspondence
The Library’s online exhibition ‘Forever Begin’ draws from the archive and provides wonderful insight into the poet’s life and immense contribution to Irish literary and cultural life over many decades.