The Old Library at Trinity College Dublin, designed by Irish architect Thomas Burgh (1670–1730), opened in 1732 and was expanded in 1860. Dividing Library Square to the north and Fellows’ Square to the south, the Old Library’s stone exterior has a rhythmic simplicity, but little prepares the visitor for the classical magnificence of the building’s main chamber. The timber-lined Long Room, housing 200,000 beautifully bound volumes that represent six centuries of scholarship and publishing, is one of the most impressive and harmonious architectural spaces in the world. Each year it attracts almost a million visitors, who arrive to see the 9th-century Book of Kells, one of the greatest surviving works of Medieval art and Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure.
This exquisite album of photographs by Harry Cory Wright allows us to experience the Long Room as if for the first time, revealing the monumentality of the space, the finely wrought details of its architecture, and some of the secrets that lie between the leather-bound covers of its rare-book collection. With an introduction by Librarian and College Archivist Helen Shenton, who shares with us her own daily experience of the Long Room’s magic, this is a book that conjures up an extraordinarily vivid sense of ‘being there’.