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    Home/ Dublin Attractions / The Book of Kells





    The Book of Kells , one of Dublin's Top Tourist Attractions, is displayed in the Old Library of Trinity College Dublin. It was originally donated to the University in 1661 & is now its most valuable possession. The Book of Kells is one of the most important early Christian Religious manuscripts in the World today. So don't miss seeing it ! Only four pages are on view to limit light damage to the manuscript. However, it is only right that such care is taken with such a delicate religious treasure some 1,200 years old !

    History of the Book of Kells

    The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript written c. 800 AD. It is a World famous example of early Celtic Art. The Book was kept at the Abbey of Kells, a Columban monastery, in Co.Meath, Ireland for 700 centuries hence its name ‘The Book of Kells '. The Abbey of Kells was regularly plundered by the Vikings so it's a miracle that the Book survived ! However, in 1006 disaster struck when the Book was stolen only to be found several weeks later under a ‘sod' of earth & missing its gold, bejewelled frontpiece & some 20 pages.

    There are a number of theories on exactly where the Book was written as the mists of time are thick indeed . However, the concensus among scholars is that Book of Kells was produced by monks at the monastery of St Columba on the Scottish Island of Iona. Accordingly, the Book of Kells is also called the Book of Columba .

    Columban monks with their beautiful manuscripts travelled extensively throughout Europe spreading the new religion. Such was the success of his monastery at Iona that he became known as Columba of Iona. Visit Iona when you have a spare few days…it is a most profound experience.

    The Book of Kells was written on vellum which is lime treated calfskin stretched very thinly. Over 100 calfskins were needed in the making of this important work of art. The monks wrote the text with quill pens and sumptuously decorated the pages with beautifully coloured & intricate images using natural pigments. The cover was originally inlaid with gold & jewels & consisted of 700 illuminated pages. After the theft described above there are 680 pages remaining.

    A DVD, authorised by Trinity College, is available for US$41.95 displaying detailed reproductions of the 680 pages with narrations by the famous thespians Olivia O'Leary and Stephen Rea on the history of The Book of Kells .





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