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Books of Kells, IFI with Lisa by Ann Treacy
February 7, 2010, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Dublin

Our friend Lisa has come for a visit. Lisa, really from Colorado) is a nanny in Cork but she is visiting for a week. On Saturday the girls and I went into town with Lisa. We went to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College. The Book of Kells is a beautifully illuminated copy of the four gospels. It was transcribed by Irish monks around 800 AD.

I have to say that the detail is amazing. There are some pages that are all illustration and they’re beautiful – but my favorite part is the first letters and mini pictures drawn right into the text. You can see how so much of Celtic art and design stays true to the design in the Book of Kells.

An interesting thing the exhibit pointed out was design through the ages, they showed drawings that were precursors to the Book of Kells and drawings that came after and you could see the main themes that survived.

The Book of Kells is housed in the Trinity’s Long Library, quite frankly that is as impressive as the books. I’ve added some pictures. The room is filled with old books. The girls couldn’t believe that people would have ever gone through the books. Also we got to see many pictures and the Proclamation from the 1916 Easter Rising. One item I liked was a postcard from a girl at Trinity at the time. She had written home to say that while the rumors of the rebellion was true that she was safe in her dorm. Kind of helped you imagine the general reaction and environment for the Easter Rising.

After Trinity we ended up at lunch at Bewley’s. Then we walked around. Then we ended up at the National Gallery of Photography where we saw more pictures, not from the 1916 rising but rebellion efforts from 1921-22. While there we saw notice of the free films at the Irish Film Institute. My friend Sheila had clued me into the day of free films, but not being a movie fan I completely forgot about it.

Anyways most of the films were booked out but we got to see 3 old and very cheesy Irish tourism films. One was in black and white. All include shots of Nelson’s Pillar, which was destroyed by a bomb in 1966 and replaced by The Spite in 2003. (Careful readers will remember that we saw the head from Nelson’s Pillar at the Pearse Street Library.)

It was fun to see the refurnished cinemas.

At night Patrick, Lisa and I headed to the local pub.


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I like the reference to the Spite that replaced the Floozie in the Jacuzzi (statue of Anna Livia) that replaced Nelson’s Pillar. Ironically, the Irish Army when it went to blow up the remains of the stump of Nelson’s Pillar did more damage to the windows of the surrounding shops and the general street area than the original bomb! Nelson’s head – with a look of permanent surprise – was rescued from the scattered rubble – (the first Irish astronaut the Dubliners called him in one of their ballads) -as Ann points out, and is stuck on a plinth in Pearse Street Public and Archival library in Dublin. This is an appropriate final destination as it is a library of historians and researchers and Nelson’s scarred mug provides a pointed testimony to the ravages and twists of history.

Comment by Patrick O\'Donnell




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