Trinity College, Dublin
Founded in 1592
Trinity College is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland, as well as Ireland's oldest university and is located on College Green, opposite the former Irish Houses of Parliament.
The Library of Trinity College is a legal deposit library for Ireland and the United Kingdom, containing over 4.5 million printed volumes and significant quantities of manuscripts, maps and music.
Trinity College retains a tranquil collegiate atmosphere despite its location in the centre of a capital city (and despite it being one of the most significant tourist attractions in Dublin). This is in large part due to the compact design of the college, whose main buildings look inwards and are arranged in large quadrangles (called squares), and the existence of only a few public entrances.
Image: Trinity College, Dublin
The Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is by far the Library's most famous book and is located in the Old Library, along with the Book of Durrow, the Book of Howth and other ancient texts.
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created in a Columban monastery in Ireland or may have had contributions from various Columban institutions from both Britain and Ireland. It is believed to have been created c. 800. The text of the Gospels is largely drawn from the Vulgate, although it also includes several passages drawn from the earlier versions of the Bible known as the Vetus Latina. It is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and represents the pinnacle of Insular illumination. It is also widely regarded as Ireland's finest national treasure.
The manuscript takes its name from the Abbey of Kells, which was its home for centuries. Today, it is on permanent display at Trinity College Library, Dublin. The Library usually displays two of the current four volumes at a time, one showing a major illustration and the other showing typical text pages, and the entire manuscript can be viewed on the Library's Digital Collections Repository.
Although the college is best known for the Book of Kells, it's also worth going there to check out the Long Room of its old library. (Apparently, this room was the inspiration for a room called the Jedi Archives, in the movie, “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.”)
The best time of the year to visit this university is around the end of May, just after the students' exams are over. It is worth taking one of the guided tours around the college as nearly every building seems to have an interesting story.