Trinity College Library

If you have chosen a language experience in Ireland and you love places immersed and suspended in time, full of mystery, prestige and antiquity then you absolutely must visit the Old Library, the ancient library of Trinity College in Dublin. This is the oldest and largest library in all of Ireland, where about five million volumes are kept, an invaluable treasure, which can be admired in all its magnificence through the grandiose corridors of the Long Room, a place full of knowledge which extends over two levels.

The patrimony of human knowledge, the masterpieces of literature, the ancient maps and illuminated manuscripts, of which the Old Library boasts a very rich collection, have been kept here for centuries. Among the medieval relics, the most precious gem in the library, the famous “Book of Kells” is also preserved. In a scenario that seems to evoke the zealous Amanuensis monks and the mysterious atmospheres of “The name of the rose”, there is one of the most important manuscripts in history, a masterpiece of Celtic art also known as the Evangeliary of San Columba, written by the monk’s followers in the scriptorium of Iona around 800 AD. 

Having survived the assault of the Vikings and other vicissitudes, this manuscript of rare beauty is today admired not only by palaeographers and experts, but by thousands of tourists and visitors who wish to smell the past, among those shelves that almost magically seem to multiply step by step. Among the corridors and the halls with very high vaulted ceilings it’s possible to relive the suggestions of “Page master”, the animated film in which a library turns into an immense fantastic land and its animated books live of the incredible adventures on the plots of Melville, Swift and Stevenson. 

It is no coincidence therefore if the Old Library in Dublin was chosen for its suggestive atmospheres as a Harry Potter set. This is the fantastic library of Hogwarts where the wizard with his inseparable Ron and Hermione searches for spells, forbidden books and spells. Remember the first episode of the saga, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”? Well, the harp that keeps asleep Fuffy, the three-headed dog, guardian of the precious stone, is once again inspired by memorabilia from the university library.

In the Long Room there is in fact the splendid harp of Trinity College, better known as “Brian Boru Harp”. Made of willow wood and equipped with 29 brass strings, this harp dates back to the 15th century and is the oldest on the Emerald Isle. It has an enormous value, especially for the Irish, who recognize in this instrument a strongly evocative symbol.

Its meaning dates back to the centuries, in Celtic mythology, in which it constituted the representative object of the God Dagda, a bit like in Greek mythology it was the thunderbolt for Zeus and the trident for Poseidon. Well, the good Lord Dagda used to scan the rhythm of the season and life with the melodious sound of the harp.

Since then the ancient instrument has constituted and still constitutes a very important symbol for Ireland: it can be found practically everywhere, from the slender and sinuous forms of the Beckett Bridge to the emblem of the double malt queen, the Guinness, up to its most noble specimen kept in the Trinity College library. If you want to dream a little and be enchanted by unique atmospheres, you just have to cross the threshold of the legendary Old Library and the magic will do the rest.

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