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The Book of Kells is one of the masterpieces of Western art and a symbol of Irish nationalism. Where it was produced is controversial. Some scholars suggest Iona, the island monastery founded by St. Columba. It is thought to have been the work of several individual scribes over many years, likely before A.D. 806. The manuscript was held at Kells until 1661 when it was moved to Dublin where it remains as the chief treasure of Trinity College Library.
After so many centuries, the Book of Kells is extremely fragile and few people are allowed access. Fine Arts Facsimile Publishers in Switzerland spent 10 years producing a limited edition which is practically indistinguishable from the original, duplicating even the worm holes in the pages. This facsimile has received worldwide acclaim. In 1990 a group of Irish-Canadians, after 3 years of raising money, purchased this facsimile edition and donated it to the Library. On display for many years in the Fine Arts Library, it is currently in Rare Books and Special Collections in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, in its own case, which itself is a replica of a monk's desk from the middle ages.
The Book of Kells is a copy of the four Gospels in Latin. It is known for the extraordinary array of pictures, interlaced shapes and oranamental details. A 13th century scholar, Giraldus Cambrensis, writes of the Book of Kells "... you might believe it was the work of an angel rather than a human being".
Location: Rare Books and Special Collections, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre