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The History

Discover the rich past of the Book of Kells and Old Library.

800AD

The Book of Kells was created around the year 800AD and researchers believe that it was originally produced in a monastery on the island of Iona off the coast of Scotland. It appears to have been created by three artists and four scribes. When Iona was attacked by Vikings, the surviving monks moved to a sister monastery in Kells, Co. Meath. Some scholars believe that it was here that the Book of Kells was finished.

1592

Trinity College Dublin was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth and is Ireland’s oldest University. Today, the Book of Kells is housed in Trinity’s 18th century Old Library building which is also home to the Long Room, a 65-metre long chamber considered to be one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

1653

The Book of Kells remained in the town of Kells until 1653, when it was moved to Dublin after the town suffered serious damage during military occupation in the wars of the 17th century.

1661-1682

The Bishop of Meath presented the Book of Kells to Trinity College Dublin for safe keeping between 1661-82 and it has been housed in the Library ever since.

1732

The Old Library building, which houses the Long Room, was opened in 1732. The Long Room has been a working library since then and students and researchers from Ireland and around the world continue to consult the volumes of books it houses to this day. 

Architectural Milestones of the Old Library

1861

The original flat Long Room ceiling, was found to be in danger of collapsing due to an increasing collection of books. An upper gallery of bookcases was constructed and a dark-oak barrel vaulted ceiling was installed and is still intact to this day

2018

A record one million people visited the Book of Kells in one year. The millionth visitor was Cassie Clemans who travelled with her husband from Oregon, USA.

Discover Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure
Ticket Info
The Book of Kells and Old Library Exhibition will temporarily close from 19 September 2020 More Info