Intricate scenes painted on book edges depicting landscapes, flowers and buildings are the subject of a new exhibition in the Library of Trinity College Dublin.
The exhibition features highlights from the Library’s Bollmann Collection which includes fore-edge paintings executed over 250 years. They were painted on books printed between 1639 and 1895, with a wide variety of subjects – landscapes, mansions, religious buildings, boats, coats of arms, and flowers. Many of the books in the collection are in decorative bindings and the most beautiful of these will be on view in the exhibition alongside the fore-edge paintings.
Entitled “Bound to please: the Elsbeth and Bettina Bollmann Collection of fore-edge paintings and bindings”, the exhibition in the Long Room of the Old Library will run until the end of November and forms part of the Book Of Kells exhibition.
The unusual art of painting on the flat fore-edges of books goes back many centuries but the more subtle art of creating a hidden picture which is only visible when the leaves of the book are fanned appeared in England in the middle of the 17th century. There are three 17th-century fore-edge paintings in the Bollmann Collection, one of them probably executed in 1652 and the other two dated 1685 and 1688.
The art of fore-edge painting was taken up by the firm of Edwards of Halifax in the late 18th century and is often associated with that family. Founded by William Edwards in Halifax, Yorkshire, William was joined in his business by his sons, two of whom opened their own premises in London.
Apart from fore-edge paintings, the Edwards are known for their Etruscan-style bindings, described as such because motifs typical of Etruscan vases were used to decorate them, and for illustrated vellum bindings, on which a drawing on the cover is covered with a thin layer of transparent vellum to protect it. Both of these designs by the Edwards family are represented by several books in the Bollmann Collection. These stunning bindings are among those forming part of this exhibition.
Most fore-edge paintings are not dated and some of them were added to books many years after the books were published. Double fore-edge paintings and triple edge paintings, which are not commonly found, are believed to date from the early 20th century. Books with these paintings are among the highlights of this exhibition.
Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist, commented:
“The Bollmann Collection of fore-edge paintings and bindings is the largest collection of fine bindings acquired by the Library of Trinity College Dublin since the early 19th century. Most of the volumes are decorated with fore-edge paintings and many of them are in fine bindings, making this the most important collection of bindings to be acquired by the Library in over 200 years, since the Quin Collection was received in 1805.
“We are most grateful to Bettina Bollmann for making this donation of exquisite fore-edge paintings and bindings to the Library’s precious Research Collections. We are delighted to showcase highlights in this physical exhibition as well as an online exhibition and videos.”
The books on display in the Trinity exhibition form part of a collection of 52 books which was donated to the Library in 2022 by Bettina Bollmann, who had joined her mother Elsbeth over several decades in assembling the collection.
Most of the volumes are decorated with fore-edge paintings and many of them are in fine bindings, making this the most important collection of bindings to be acquired by the Library in over 200 years, since the Quin Collection was received in 1805.
Pictured in the main image are Principal Librarian, Early Printed Books & Special Collections, Dr Lydia Ferguson and exhibition curator, donor, Bettina Bollmann.
Botanical catalogues, lavish celestial atlases and unique pamphlets from the early modern period are among 30,000 titles being conserved and digitally catalogued in an ambitious collaboration to register the entirety of the 18th-century Fagel Collection, which fills a mile of shelving space in the Old Library of Trinity College Dublin.
50% of the collection has now been catalogued opening up this unique heritage library to 21st-century research. The achievements of the international Unlocking the Fagel Collection Project (2020-2023) was celebrated yesterday evening [Wed, June 21st] with the opening of an exhibition in the Library of Trinity College Dublin by Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ireland, Adriaan Palm and a conference in the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. KB Board of Director – responsible for Sustainable Access and Heritage, Geertrui Verbraak and the Librarian & College Archivist, Helen Shenton joined the Ambassador with opening words.
The project is a collaboration between the Library of Trinity College Dublin and the KB National Library of the Netherlands. It is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was launched following the State Visit of the King and Queen of the Netherlands to Ireland in 2019.
All 30,000 books, pamphlets, and maps in the collection are being digitally recorded in the Trinity Library catalogue. It is a flagship project of the Virtual Trinity Library programme, which is opening up the unique and distinct collections of the College through conservation, cataloguing, digitisation, research and public engagement. Additionally, the Dutch titles are being recorded in the Short-Title Catalogue Netherlands (STCN), the Dutch national bibliography.
The Fagel Collection is one of the jewels in the Library’s collections and is regarded as one of the most important private libraries in early modern Europe. The collection was amassed by five generations of the Fagel family – many of whom held high public office in the Netherlands. It was purchased as a whole for Trinity College Dublin in 1802 and is officially recorded as one of the treasures of the College.
In an era when printed material was the foremost basis of power and information, the Fagel collection, assembled contemporaneously by five generations of bibliophiles, is a treasure trove of material detailing global politics, trade, law, exploration and knowledge management in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The exhibition, entitled “Unlocking the Fagel Collection”, forms part of the Book of Kells visitor experience, and comprises 20 items chosen to give a flavour of the wonderful range and diversity of printed material contained within the vast collection. Highlights of the exhibition include a beautifully illustrated and hand-coloured botanical reference book; poetry and song publications wrapped in decorated papers; and unique volumes of rare pamphlets and ephemeral publications.
Librarian & College Archivist, Helen Shenton, noted that:
“This project is a flagship and exemplar in the ambitious Virtual Trinity Library programme. With the support of the Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands, we are well on the way to virtually reconstructing and reuniting this pan-European Library with sister collections in the Netherlands and in the wider region. Now over two centuries since arriving in Dublin, this historically significant collection is being made available for 21st-century research.”
Head of Research Collections, Laura Shanahan, commented:
“On its arrival to Trinity the Fagel Collection increased the Library’s holdings by 40%, and vastly expanded its subject content beyond largely theological material to all areas of scholarly interest. The Fagel collection also touches on every corner of the globe, opening up the realm of understanding beyond Ireland and Western Europe to the whole world. The collection’s importance for research now, and for understanding the political and social movements of Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, simply cannot be overstated. We are so proud that finally this collection is beginning to realise its full potential.”
A three-day conference organised by the Library will hear research updates from some of the 30 scholars who are currently working on the Fagel Collection. The event which is free and open to the public is hosted by the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Institute, the research partner of the Fagel project. Topics include how astronomy and the astral sciences are represented in the collection; document illuminated publications in the Fagel library, and present research on the Fagel family as international propaganda masters.
Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute, Eve Patten said:
“Trinity’s Fagel Collection opens up lines of enquiry into everything from the cultures of empire to climate change. We are delighted to host a conference that will bring so many international experts closer to this unique resource.”
Unlocking the Fagel Collection Project Manager, Ann-Marie Hansen,added:
“With half of this unique collection now digitally catalogued and fully discoverable the monumental efforts to ‘unlock’ the Fagel Collection are already delivering rich research impact. We have recorded over two-thousand editions that had never before been described. Additionally, we now know that 15% of the titles in the collection are the only known surviving copies of those publications.
“The Fagel Collection is attracting the attention of researchers locally and internationally and new scholarship is changing what we know, not only about the Fagel Collection, but also about what was printed in the 18th century. And we haven’t finished yet! The next stage is to complete the cataloguing, engage with digitisation and continuing to explore the full potential of the Fagel Collection for further research.”
Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ireland, Adriaan Palm, who will launch the exhibition this evening, said:
“The partnership between Trinity, the National Library of the Netherlands, and the Dutch and Irish governments signals a Europe-wide dedication to the preservation of and access to our shared cultural heritage. The ‘Unlocking the Fagel Collection project’ is one of the finest examples of research and public engagement projects today, and we are very glad to be able to celebrate this major milestone in providing complete access to the pan-European collection.”
The Library of Trinity is collaborating with the KB National Library of the Netherlands, to register all publications in the Fagel Collection in the catalogue of the Library of Trinity College and in the Short-Title Catalogue, Netherlands, the Dutch pre-1800 national bibliography. The project is also working in conjunction with the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute to facilitate researchers to engage in the collection. The project ‘Unlocking the Fagel Collection’ is made possible by the support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Fagel Collection will form a key component of the Library’s Virtual Trinity Library, which allows digital access to the unique and distinct collections of the Library. The Library has long term aims to digitally reunite the Fagel collection with related library, archive, museum and private collections around the world, using the latest enhanced technologies.
More about the Fagel Collection:
The Fagel collection at the Library of Trinity College Dublin is one of the most important and largest still extant Dutch private libraries from the eighteenth century. The library was assembled as a working library by several generations of the Fagel family, of whom successive members held high offices in the Dutch Republic throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The collection of books, pamphlets and maps was purchased as a whole for Trinity College Dublin in 1802. The material ranges in date from 1478 to 1799 with the greater volume of material published in the 18th century and relates to all parts of the world, but with a particular emphasis on Europe and areas outside Europe where the Dutch had trading or colonial interests. Many items in the library are private printings, in that they were not made available to the public at large, and are consequently very rare.
The Library of Trinity College Dublin is the only library on the island of Ireland that enjoys UK Legal Deposit status which entitles it to receive a copy of every item published in Ireland and the UK. It has enjoyed this status since 1801, enabling the Library to build an unparalleled record of our intellectual and cultural heritage for the benefit of students, researchers and visitors from near and far.
In 2013 these powers were extended from printed publications to include non-print (electronic) legal deposit, allowing readers to access websites, e-books, and online journals, creating an unprecedented collection of digital and online publishing which captures contemporary living. The commitment to electronic legal deposit has also provided access to the UK Web Archive, which holds millions of websites and over 100 curated collections including Brexit and the global Covid-19 pandemic, to name but a few.
Ranging from the most contemporary electronic collections to 19th century print collections, the impact of both print and non-print legal deposit for the island of Ireland has been significant.
In 2016, marking the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, the Library of Trinity College Dublin collaborated with the Bodleian Library and British Library to archive websites from both the Irish and UK web domains as they reflected on this pivotal moment in modern Irish history in the 1916 Web Archiving Project.
The Library of Trinity College Dublin has one of the most significant collections of Northern Irish publications published on the island of Ireland, including books, pamphlets and local history, especially relevant as we mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement also this week.
By the 1930s, the number of newly published books banned in Ireland each year was between 100-150, denying the Irish public the right to important Irish and international literature. Under Legal Deposit, the Library of Trinity College Dublin continued to receive these books and was able to provide access, albeit under very restricted conditions.
Legal Deposit enabled the collection of books by women authors from the 19th century onwards, both from Ireland and the UK. This helped to counteract collection bias and improved representation.
Commenting on its significance, Librarian & College Archivist, Helen Shenton said:
“Today, the Library of Trinity College Dublin together with our five legal deposit libraries in the UK, celebrate 10-years of digital collecting, which has enabled the creation of a seventh, transnational digital library for the benefit of all. It is also an opportunity to look back on the significant impact Legal Deposit has had over centuries, building an unparalleled record of our intellectual and cultural heritage.”
About Legal Deposit Libraries
There are six legal deposit libraries across in Ireland and the UK. They are:
The legal deposit libraries work together to ensure the long-term preservation of Irish and UK publications. They ensure that publications are held securely and that they can be discovered and accessed by readers. For further details on the 10th anniversary celebrations on digital collecting see British Library announcement.
Last Sunday’s Lyric Feature, Dorothea the doozy, presented by Trinity alumna and radio documentary maker Angie Mezzetti, brings to light the work of Dorothea Herbert, a long-overlooked 18th Century writer, diarist, poet and artist from Carrick-on-Suir. Herbert’s memoir, which she called ‘Retrospections of an Outcast’, was written between 1780 to 1806 and was published for the first time in 1929. In this documentary, Manuscripts Curator Dr Jane Maxwell, a specialist in the history of women in the 18th century, introduces this memoir, beautifully illustrated with watercolours by the author – which has been in the care of the Library since the 1980s.
This document is of immense significance to the social history of Ireland in the 18th century, and especially for the history of women in a century which saw them emerge more clearly into society. What gives this document added significance is that the author was clearly suffering severely from a mental illness at a time when there was little understanding for such afflictions.
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.
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 and Trinity Centre for the Book Research Seminar will host the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) Annual Seminar on Tuesday October 4, 2022 (9:30am – 5pm), at the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. Ten years since digitisation was last the subject of a CERL Seminar, we wish to bring people together to discuss the varied challenges research libraries face in the planning and realising of internal and collaborative programmes of digitisation for cultural heritage materials.
Speakers from various international and Irish libraries will comment on the state of the art of digitisation and the role of research libraries therein, presenting a variety of recent and ongoing projects. These include the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Folger Shakespeare Library, John Rylands Library, and the libraries of the National University of Ireland Galway and Royal Irish Academy. Through the seminar we hope to instigate a community-focused discussion to problematise the maturing field of cultural heritage digitisation.
The full programme is available here for the event Registration is open to all. Please register before September 26 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Government announced funding of €25 million for the restoration of one of Ireland’s foremost national heritage sites, the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin yesterday. The Old Library is home to the magnificent Long Room and precious manuscripts, including the 9th century Book of Kells.
An TaoiseachMicheál Martin said: “I am delighted to announce €25 million in Government funding for the Old Library, one of Ireland’s foremost heritage sites and a jewel in the nation’s crown. This landmark restoration project will use leading technology and preventive conservation, providing optimum environmental conditions for the 18th century building and its precious collections. With the aid of this Government funding we are safeguarding our heritage for generations to come.”