Having decided to skip the long line to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College, instead we opted to enjoy a much less known gem in Dublin, the Chester Beatty library. Next to Dublin Castle, this library/museum houses an extraordinary, vast collection of ancient manuscripts and texts. Taking advantage of a video loop showing the history of Chester Beatty, we learned that the wealthy American mining magnate, who bequeathed his collection to Ireland when he died in 1968, left them treasures that you can see for free with no waiting in line.
We wandered and gawked at all types of artifacts that date back to 2700 BC to present day from various religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam Buddhism and Hinduism. There are beautifully illuminated copies of the Qur’an, the Bible, European medieval and Renaissance manuscripts and more. The Christianity room featured third century Greek letters. Really rare stuff on display to enjoy. There is also a gallery devoted to the Art of the Book with books from all over the ancient world showing fancy leather bound engraved editions to simple volumes. I have many fond memories as a child visiting the Noblesville Public Library in the old downtown brick building every Saturday to load up on books I could devour. Now, I am blessed to experience this magnificent collection after also going to the NYC Library and the Morgan Library and viewing their Guttenberg bibles. This all in one week of vacation. This has been a dream come true for me.
Knighted for his contribution of strategic raw materials to the Allies during World War II, Sir Chester Beatty was a traveler and experienced adventurer, travelling the world to collect rare items. So glad he decided to donate them so we can enjoy them today. There is even a roof top serenity garden where you can enjoy the view of nearby Dublin castle or just sit on a bench and reflect on all the ancient texts you have just viewed. Truly one of the best museum experiences I have had around the world.