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What is the Long Room at Trinity College?

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The main chamber of the Old Library at Trinity College in Dublin, is the Long Room. At almost 65 meters long, it contains 200,000 of the library’s oldest books and is one of the most impressive libraries in the world.

When it was built (between 1712 and 1732), it had a flat plaster ceiling and shelves for books were only on top lower level with an open gallery. By the 1850s, these shelves were filled to capacity; especially because from 1801 the library had the right to claim one free copy of every book published in Ireland and Great Britain.

What is the long room at Trinity College?

In 1860 the ceiling was raised to allow for the construction of the current vaulted ceiling and upper gallery bookshelves. Marble busts line the Long Room, a collection that began in 1743 when 14 busts were commissioned to the sculptor Peter were given to Scheemakers. The busts are famous and not so famous of the great philosophers and writers of the western world and also of men (and yes they are all men) associated with Trinity College Dublin.

The finest bust in the collection is that of writer Jonathan Swift by Louis Francois Roubiliac. Other treasures in the Long Room include one of the few remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, which was read outside the General Post Office on 24 April 1916 by Patrick Pearse at the start of the Easter Rising.

The harp located in the libarary, is the oldest of its kind in Ireland and probably dates from the 15th century. It is made of oak and willow with 29 brass strings. It is the model for the coat of arms of Ireland. The band of gold letters under the gallery commemorates 17th and 18th century benefactors: James Ussher , Archbishop of Armagh, King Charles II, William Palliser, Archbishop of Cashel, Claudius Gilbert, Theophilius Butler. Temporary exhibitions are held in the Long Hall, showing the rich holdings of the library and encouraging further research.

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The Book of Kells

In 1661, Henry Jones donated the Book of Kells to the library. To this day, this ancient manuscript is one of the reasons why many people visit Trinity College Library in the first place. In 1801 the library was granted legal deposit rights, enabling it to keep a copy of every book published in Ireland. It was only a matter of time before such devotion and love for books took shape in various buildings. . Six of these libraries are located on the Trinity College campus.

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Last updated May 29, 2023


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