Heritage hot spots History, nature, art, environment


MARSH’S LIBRARY What is it?Marsh’s Library, on St Patrick’s Close in Dublin, is Ireland’s oldest public library. Modelled in the style of the college libraries of Oxford and Cambridge, it was designed by William Robinson for Archbishop Narcissus Marsh in 1701.

Why visit?With 30,000 rare and early printed books, it offers a fascinating insight into the world of a bibliophile. “There is a sense that Archbishop Marsh was trying to stock all the knowledge that one needed to know in the early 18th century,” says Dr Jason McElligott, keeper of Marsh’s Library.

The four main collections of books about science, music, history, politics, law, literature, medicine and travel, among other subjects, attract researchers from all over the world. The books are still catalogued and sitting in their original dark oak cases. You can see the original cages in which readers were locked while they used valuable books.

The library is also in charge of nearby Delmas Conservation Bindery, which conserves early printed books, manuscripts, fine art on paper and archival material. Children’s bookbinding workshops are held at various times throughout the year.

Why now?Marsh’s Library is participating in the Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin this weekend. Today and tomorrow there will be an interactive audio retelling of Stoker’s short story The Judge’s Houses by the Performance Corporation. Check out bramstokerfestival.comfor more details of gothic tales in the crypt of nearby Christ Church and street-theatre performances in Dublin Castle. The Dublin City of Science exhibition Marvels of Science: Books That Changed the World is also on show at Marsh’s Library until April next year.

How do I get there?Marsh’s Library is to the side of St Patrick’s Cathedral, in Dublin 8. It’s a five-minute walk from Christ Church or Dublin Castle, exiting from the gate next to the Chester Beatty Library. It is open from 9.30am to 1pm and from 2pm to 5pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 10am to 1pm on Saturdays. Admission costs €2.50 for adults and €1.50 for students and senior citizens; children go free. Guided tours are available for schoolchildren and other groups. Call 01- 4543511 or see marshlibrary.ie.

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