Monday, 6 September 2010

Libraries, Ireland, and the Book of Kells

LKHunsaker-May2008 Hello! I’m LK Hunsaker and like my fellow authors here at Lindsay’s Romantics, I’m a library fanatic. As we’ve already heard inspirational stories and ways to help support your local library, I was trying to think of something different to add to the theme.

The library is indeed a magical place, and I often walked into town as a child to grab the next adventure. When you’re in a very small town in the middle of cornfields, you have two options for adventure (well, two safe and legal options): imagination and books. They work together.

Instead of regaling about my own hometown library, then or now (although I’m so proud of my local library that has just upgraded and spread with the community’s incredible help!), I thought I’d share anrichly illustrated ancient texts adventure in real life that includes both imagination and books: a trip to Dublin my husband and I took in 2008.

I have to say that overall, Dublin was not my favorite tourist spot. It’s very … well, touristy and packed full of university students who don’t exactly represent down-to-earth old-time Ireland. However, it was worth the time there just to find Trinity College’s library.

I wish I could have taken photos of the library itself. It’s not horribly large, but it is two stories and old-time with its dark wooden shelves and railing and flooring. And all of those books! What most people go to see, though, is what Trinity hosts:

Book of Kells info plaque
The Book of Kells

This is not the actual book. It’s one of the very large posters in the (very crowded) room before you get in to see the book. Completed in 800 AD by Scottish and Irish Monks, The Book of Kells is actually quite small and thick. It holds the texts of the four gospels with gorgeous illustrations. In fact, only two of the pages, handwritten pages, are not illustrated.

The book, and a few other rare old texts, are carefully concealed in glass boxes in one of the library’s rooms where visitors can walk along and marvel at the another ancient textartistry of the combined words and illustrations, and by how well preserved something so ancient can still be. For a writer-artist, this was an incredible view.

Unfortunately, no photos are allowed. That’s necessary, of course, since flash photography does degrade fragile materials, and the room itself is kept fairly dark for preservation. I may have to break down and order the  CD (or maybe the screensaver since it’s much less expensive!) so I can actually look through the book. As it’s in Latin, I won’t be able to do more with the text than marvel at it, but I guess sometimes that’s good enough.

Trinity College Dublin Ireland

Libraries do indeed hold treasures. Some of these, if not all, are rare and priceless.

A book need not be over 3,000 years old to be priceless, however. I consider my set of a few old copies of the Hardy Boys series priceless, although I found them rather cheap in an antique shop. There is something about being pulled into a story and characters that can’t replaced by any other feeling in the world. Visit your own library to find out.

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If you would like bookmarks for your local library for any of my books, contact me through with the library’s address and a contact name.
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Alas, I didn’t find any leprechauns, unless you count this little guy,see him?  but there’s always next time.

Here’s to your own adventures!


LK Hunsaker
~Literary Romance with an Artsy Twist~


Lindsay Townsend said...

Wonderful, LK! Your post brought back many happy memories for me. I too have been to Dublin and Trinity College and seen the Book of Kells - an amazing work!

Thank you so much for sharing!

LK Hunsaker said...

Lindsay, I wondered if you'd been there. Isn't that library just gorgeous?

Celia Yeary said...

LORAINE--I enjoyed learning something I never knew. Although Ireland is a land anyone would love, I really don't know much about it except from the news and traditions everyone in the world knows. the Book of Kells--how amazing that it was there and anyone could view it. I'd love to see that special library. Thank you for the journey--Celia

LK Hunsaker said...

Celia, I hope you can go some day. I recommend a journey over to Galway, as well, and the Cliffs of Moher. Incredible.

Ireland.. well, I have an aunt who says she's not at all interested despite her Irish husband because it's "cold and rainy" year round and she doesn't like that kind of weather! Ha! Well, yes, it was cold and rainy. But it was worth it. Actually, it was quite warm and sunny for our day in Dublin, so they do have warm and sunny.

Rebecca J Vickery said...

HI Loraine,
I enjoyed your post and what a great reminder of how libraries help preserve our culture and history. I would also love to visit Ireland. I could put up with a bit of rain to feel the history. I'll add Trinity College library to my "places to see" wish list.

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Rebecca, yes, can you imagine what would be lost without libraries preserving them? One day, I want to visit the Library of Congress, also. Should have done that while I lived close!

Kathleen O said...

The first time I was in Ireland, I too visited Trinity College and saw the library and the book of Kells. It was amazing. My father went there before she joined the RAF. So for me it had a lot of meaning. I love libraries and I visit my local one at least once or twice a week.
For me it is like "Norm" going into Cheers, everybody knows your name. As soon I as walk in the girls go and pull the books from the hold shelf, which I have put on hold via my comptuer, ah the modern library, without even asking my name. It makes me feel so special.
God Bless all Librarians..

LK Hunsaker said...

Kathleen, I'm so glad you've been there!

And what a wonderful thing to have your librarians know you. As I'm still new in the area, I'm still working on that. ;-)

Savanna Kougar said...

LK, thank you so much sharing your trip to see the Book of Kells. Yes, I would absolutely love to see it for myself, having felt drawn to it, ever since learning about that ancient book.
And, I've always wanted to visit Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Britain.

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Savanna, you feel drawn to it? How interesting. Any idea what it is that draws you?

I do hope you get there.

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi LK, the pics of the illustrations I've seen resonate with me, especially. Ireland, itself, partly because of my own heritage, has always called to me.
Everything Celtic and Druid, the ancient history, the myths and legends... it's an amazing land.

Danielle Thorne said...

Superb post, LK. Love the photos.

LK Hunsaker said...

Savanna, ah, yes I understand.

Danielle, thank you!