Dating back to 1701, Marsh's Library is the oldest public library in Ireland. It is located right next to St. Patrick's Cathedral and is named after Archbishop Marsh, the man who initiated this project. It started out with a relatively modest collection of books, but as private collections were acquired or donated to the library, the collection became more and more important. It now contains over 25,000 books from the 16th, 17th and 18th century, relating to fields such as medicine, theology, law, science, travel, mathematics, music and literature. Very little has changed since the library first opened over 300 years ago - the original dark oak bookcases are still there, along with the cages where readers used to be locked in when they wished to study books from the library's rare books collection. For the benefit of visitors, small displays have been set up. There was a very interesting one pertaining to Jonathan Swift's rather unconventional relationships with Esther "Vanessa" Vanhomrigh and Esther "Stella" Johnson. There also was one dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I that contained, among other things, a poem written to the Virgin Queen by Sir Walter Raleigh.
Admission is only 2 Euros, and any book lover will think it's truly worth it. There are some volunteers around to give you information about the library's history and collection, and they were incredibly friendly and welcoming.
Oh, OK. Stella Johnson's skull (or the plaster cast of it) is probably not the best reason to see Marsh's Library. Founded in 1701 by Narcissus Marsh, nemesis of Dean Swift, it is the oldest public library in Ireland, and remains a gorgeous working library for researchers of the 16th-18th centuries. It is not as popular as the much larger Trinity College library, so you might have a chance to talk to the librarian on duty about the building and the collection, as well as a better opportunity to look closely at the displays.
Come and see this nice place. Seems the time has not passed in this library since it was built 300 years ago. It was the first public library in Ireland. Once you enter will see a corridor and in both sides compartments where the old books are. At the end of the corridor turn righ(but before turning right on a table there is a book where you can sign, like all the tourists do) and you’ll see 3 big cages where readers entered to read worthy books. In this library there is a very nice and friendly old man working. Maybe you’ll have the luck to have a conversation with him like I did. You have to pay about 2 euros (to enter, not to talk to him).
Monday: 10-12.45 /14-17; Tuesday and Sunday (closed all day), Wed,Thurs and Friday 10-12.45/14-17; Saturday: 10-12.45
This is one of those libraries that really look like a library. Obviously you can't just walk in and browse the books, it's not that kind of library. Just go in and ooh and aah about the authentic library look of it all.
You can't take photographs inside and that really is a pity...