The Library of Trinity College in Dublin is home to one of the world’s most famous books, the 1,200-year-old illuminated gospel known as the Book of Kells. Created by Columban monks in either Britain or Ireland—or both—this vibrant manuscript matches Latin text with extravagant illustrations and calligraphy. Housed here since 1661, the manuscript was rebound as four volumes, with two placed on display. While this national treasure attracts history-seeking visitors by the thousands, Ireland’s largest library has much more to discover.
In the Long Room, a barrel-vaulted space built in the 1730s, you can browse 200,000 of the library’s oldest books as you stroll past a series of busts depicting famous philosophers and writers. There’s a wooden harp dating to the 15th century (known as the Brian Boru harp), and an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
Best of all, this library is simply an amazing place to settle in and spend a day reading—with its status as a legal deposit library, it’s entitled to a free copy of every book published in both Ireland and the United Kingdom.
More Libraries to Discover in Scotland, England and France
Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh
This relatively small library, housed in a modern structure, was founded by poet Tessa Ransford and contains about 45,000 works including poetry from around the world.
Duke Humphrey’s Library, Oxford
Dating back to 1488, the oldest reading room at Oxford’s Bodleian Library has an unmistakable Harry Potter feel, not surprising since it served as a Hogwarts location in the movies.
The Richelieu-Louvois branch reopened in 2016 following a five-year restoration that included making many areas more accessible, such as the three-level Central Bookstores.
Read more: Discover stunning libraries in Calgary and New York City
[This story appears in the February 2019 issues of WestJet Magazine.]