Last week, I went to Dublin, Ireland. As anyone who has ever typed it into Pinterest will know, Dublin is the home of Trinity College, which has the Hogwarts-style old library most of us only dream of hanging out in.
It looks like this:
Trinity College alums include Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and Jonathan Swift (ugh. Gulliver’s Travels was one of the few books in my literature degree I just couldn’t get through).
There’s a lot of Beckett paraphernalia in the library. They asked you not to photograph them for copyright purposes (and I was the only person to actually abide by this rule because I am hopelessly obedient), but it’s possible to see some of his notebooks. Scribblings and drafts that would eventually becomes scenes of plays are sitting there for everyone to see. I couldn’t help but think about how I’m pretty sure I would literally die of embarrassment if anyone ever read my notebooks.
The long room of the library (the bit the tourists walk through) was built around 300 years ago and keeps 200,000 of the college’s oldest books. There was some renewal project happening when I was there – I assume this meant cleaning and fixing the books. Historians must have such terrifying jobs. I would not be able to pick up one of those books for fear it would crumble away to dust in my hands.
(although I did, about twenty minutes after these pictures were taken, hold a gigantic millipede in the small zoological museum Trinity College also has on campus. Despite my terror there was something sort of soothing in the feeling of all those legs creeping around my fingers.)
The busts in the library are also kind of a big deal. They are all of the important men who attended the college or did significant things in Ireland. One of them is Jonathan Swift (I think they were over that sort of thing by the time Beckett came along). Women are noticeably absent but then they weren’t even allowed to attend the college until 1904.
Things To Know
Get there early in the day. We arrived around 10.30am, and there was already a twenty minute queue. Part of your ticket includes a visit to the Book of Kells exhibit and they only allow a few people in at a time. You can buy fast track tickets online but they were more expensive, and if you’re anything like me, you’re just too cheap for that sort of thing.
I hadn’t heard of it before I arrived at the library, but it turns out that the Book of Kells is a big deal. It is a very fancy and very very old edition of the four gospels. It’s from around the year 800. It’s very impressive that it exists, and worth seeing whatever your feelings are about religion. Again, the idea that anyone touches this thing ever, even seasoned professionals, is terrifying to me.
Put aside some time for Trinity College. There is a lot more there than I realised. I went with my science-loving friend, and she took me to the Science Gallery, where art and science met and had fascinating babies. As of now, the exhibit is concerned with seeing and how our vision functions. It is a very practical application of scientific thought that my art-brain enjoyed immensely. My favourite piece was Mobility Device, a film by Carmen Papalia, a blind artist who replaced his white cane with a marching band as a means of getting around for a day.