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Priceless - Book of Kells to get new visitor centre to protect manuscript

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The Book of Kells manuscript

The Book of Kells manuscript

The Book of Kells manuscript

Trinity College Dublin has been given the green light for its plans to develop a visitor centre for the Book of Kells exhibition and urgent works to protect the college's manuscript and research collection.

Last year the Book of Kells exhibition generated revenues of €12.7m, with more than one million visitors paying to view the priceless manuscript.

However, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, revenues this year will be a fraction of the 2019 figure as the exhibition was forced to close from March to the beginning of August.

A new visitor centre is to be located underground, while planning documentation shows that crowd management technology is also to be installed.

The college's Long Room, situated in TCD's 300-year-old Old Library, is home to 200,000 of the Library's oldest books.

As part of the planning application lodged with Dublin City Council, TCD said the proposal aims to protect the library collection against further deterioration.

Currently, internal temperature and humidity levels within the Long Room fluctuate and the influx of airborne pollutants is an ongoing challenge for the health and longevity of the collections.

TCD has said that "the Old Library faces a number of conservation, structural and environmental challenges which need to be urgently addressed in order to safeguard the building and its contents for the next century".

Now, the city council has granted planning for the ambitious project after its planner fully endorsed the plan.

The planner in the case stated the proposal "is likely to significantly improve and enhance the existing protected buildings, from a visitor safety and visitor experience point of view and also from a preservation and maintenance perspective".

Character

The planner's report also concluded that "the character of the existing structures and the surrounding environment is unlikely to be negatively impacted by the proposed development".

"The works will create universal access to the buildings with a minimal invasive approach taken and design solutions will have minimal visual impact to the overall character and aesthetics of these protected structures," the report says.

A spokesperson for TCD said yesterday that the college is "delighted" with the granting of permission.

Asked when works will begin, the spokesperson said: "This is a complex project and its date of commencement and overall duration is currently under consideration. It will depend on a number of factors including the full review of the planning conditions and funding for its development."