Wanderlust Inspiration: Old Books at Trinity College Library

The smell of old books and intriguing tales wafted through the quiet room. Some where and at some time, every page had been turned.

The Long Room at Trinity College Library, Collage by Betsy Beier

For any book lover, a visit to Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland is a pilgrimage. The iconic Long Room in the Old Library, completed in 1732 represents the ultimate in book sanctuaries.

This exceptionally long space (213 feet/65 meters) is laid out in rows of nooks, each filled with stacks of shelves lined with tightly packed old books. Some of the nooks have ladders to reach the upper shelves, and some have a beautiful iron spiral staircase leading to the second level. At the entrance to each nook is a marble bust of a great Western philosopher or writer, a gatekeeper for those who want to browse. Gold lettering labels the shelves, to let only the ones in-the-know-of the filing method, what lives on each shelf.

The Trinity College Library is the legal deposit of all publications published in Ireland, like a copyright library, so the sheer volume of books housed here is staggering. One famous publication on display is the Book of Kells an illuminated Gospel manuscript created in a Columban monastery in what is thought to be 800AD. The illustrations, ornamental designs, lettering and wording of this relic are masterful, and being one of the oldest surviving books in the world, makes the pilgramage to Trinity College complete.

I can only dream of spending a stormy Irish night in this library, tucked away on a comfortable chair with a warm blanket snuggled on my lap. The endless words, prose, & stories I would read would envelop my senses and fill me with magical wonder.

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