Trinity College’s Old Library

Trinity College Old Library in Dublin - © VanderWolf Images
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Adresse Location:
Dublin, (County Dublin)

Located in the heart of Trinity College University in Dublin, Ireland, the Old Library is the oldest library in the city. Built in the 18th century, it contains thousands of books spread over 2 floors, in a warm decor made of woodwork and vaults. A masterful library, which will make more than one dream of it! We warn you: the place is grandiose, and has a look worthy of Harry Potter!

Visit the Old Library of Trinity College

The Long Room: a magical and impressive setting

Long Room Ceiling - Tony Webster - cc

Long Room Ceiling – Tony Webster – cc

The Trinity College Library protects a collection of over 200,000 particularly old books, some of which are believed to date back to the 5th century.

Among the most famous manuscripts is the famous Book of Kells, a medieval manuscript, beautifully calligraphed and illuminated by the monks of the time (the latter is on display in a room next to the library and is a must for any visitor).

The Old Library has a main room, called “The Long Room”. It is to it that the library owes all its superb! It must be said that it is a small architectural jewel!  This one is 65 meters long. It was built between 1712 and 1732. Originally made of a flat ceiling, it was redesigned in 1860: the room could thus be raised, and has a wonderful vaulted ceiling, entirely covered with warm dark oak wood.

The Old Library - seagen - cc

The Old Library – seagen – cc

The books, on the other hand, occupy the entire room, on two floors. Wood is also omnipresent: from the shelves to the railings, everything is wooded, from precious oak species. Ladders are moreover laid out a little bit everywhere to be able to reach the desired books…

The place is imbued with magic and an indescribable atmosphere. The old leather bindings and the smell of paper are very present in the room. And each book seems to contain unsuspected treasures.

The library here gathers thousands of books from all eras, bringing together unique knowledge. The Long Room alone is therefore an incomparable concentration of History and Culture, which many countries envy Ireland.

Nevertheless, it is impossible to consult the books without official permission from the university. This is why you will only be able to admire the magnificent libraries, climbing several meters high and welcoming old books with tired bindings.

The Long Room - Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ - cc

The Long Room – Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ – cc

However, this simple view will fill you with joy: the place is magnificent, and some old books are on display for the public to see under showcases. In addition, you will even have the opportunity to contemplate the famous harp of King Brian Boru, displayed in the central aisle of the library. It is this same harp that symbolizes Ireland, and which appears on Irish coins! It is said to date from the 15th century and to have been made of oak and willow. Endowed with 29 brass strings, it is a marvellous testimony of the cultural and historical identity of Ireland.

In addition, marble busts line the entire Long Room. The collection began in 1743, when 14 busts of marble busts were
were commissioned from sculptor Peter Scheemakers. Each sculpture represents a great man who has contributed to the history or elevation of thought in the Western World. A little later, the bust collection was expanded: other sculptors thus contributed to the expansion of the collection.

This is why we find there nowadays the representation of Jonathan Swift, Aristotle, Cicero, Theobald Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet, Francis Bacon…etc. We find men of all times and all nationalities. Irish thinkers, philosophers, artists and revolutionaries.

Among the other treasures of the Long Room, let us also note the presence of a particularly rare and dear to the Irish: the Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland of 1916 which was read outside, on the porch of the General Post Office on April 24, 1916 by Patrick Pearse at the beginning of the Easter Uprising.

A visit to the Old Library and its Long Room will take about 45 minutes. Note that the room housing the “Book of Kells” is generally more crowded: visitors crowd around the pages of the calligraphic manuscript, making access to the display cases sometimes difficult. But don’t be discouraged: the medieval book is a historical marvel. A unique copy, to be admired at least once in a lifetime!

Trinity College’s Old Library
Practical information

Address Address:
College Green, Dublin 2

Coordonnées GPSGPS:
53.343950, -6.256846

Duration of the visit Duration of the visit:
45 minutes

Web siteWeb site:
Access to the website
PricesPrices :


Opening hoursOpening hours:

every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Trinity College’s Old Library : the map

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