Monday, 17 October 2011

Book of Kells

On the afternoon of Monday 10th last week John, Chris and I flew from Southampton to Dublin.  Though it was a little grey and miserable we still went for a walk along the river before dinner.  I had totally come focused on really doing the touristy thing and of course, just around the corner from the hotel was a bead shop!  I don’t think John or Chris were that impressed as they kept walking.  I did manage a very quick peek though.  On the other side of the river Chris pointed out a fabric store and, though they rolled their eyes, they did let me have a quick look around in there too.  Of course the fact that every time we go anywhere I try and suss out where the fabric and craft shops are beforehand and then really struggle to find them had no meaning on this trip.  I had forcibly not chosen to look for any.  Perhaps I shouldn’t bother in the future at all then they will leap out at me!

Our first port of call on Tuesday morning was Trinity Collage to see the Book of Kells.  The first exhibition was very in-depth and well worth spending the time over.  
Please bear in mind that there were no cameras allowed, even phones had to be switched off.  Photo from Wiki.

A large group of Americans arrived just after us and hardly had time to stop before their guide was ushering them through to the next room.  Mind you the guide was very loud and telling everyone of all her past experiences visiting the book and what to expect.  I was on the verge of pointing out to her that I had waited 35 years to see this and I didn't really need her version spoiling it when she marched them all off waving her umbrella!  Though it was finally peaceful again I did feel for them all missing out on so much information. 

We were just about finished in the first hall when John noticed that a large group of students had just arrived and it would be a good idea to visit the book now.  He is a genius when it comes to avoiding crowds!  We moved on to the next room and there it was! The security was pretty impressive, but not as much as the illumination on one of the pages.  In 1953 the whole book was divided into four volumes, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, to better preserve the whole thing.  This means that every two months they rotate two of the volumes on display and every week they turn the pages.

I do love artisanship and the stunning ability of past ages to create with the barest of materials and tools.  I have seen photos and have several books on the Book but to actually be within inches of the velum and ink, to actually see the precision of the pen strokes and the glow from the gold was wonderful.  I was almost sad to move on upstairs to the Long Library as the group of students started coming into the room. 

I was more than grateful to have seen it without having to jostle for a position and a glimpse!


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