Saturday, March 10, 2007

My Irish Eyes are Smiling

The post below is one I did on my former blog in March of 2005. I figured I would share it here because I so enjoy this time of year and really loved these gorgeous pictures of the Book of Kells! I hope you enjoy.

Since it is March, and so close to St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would share an ancient Irish treasure with you. As a homeschooler, it almost goes without saying that books are dear friends. I say almost because I *have* come across a few that don’t tend to think that way. However, for those of us who would find a trip to oh, say, the British Library, an almost spiritual experience, this might just be for you. I had the privilege of viewing Trinity College’s ancient manuscript, the Book of Kells. Click on the thumbnail pictures below for a larger clearer version. Once you have the larger clearer version you can click on the small box on the right bottom that pops off and on and enlarge it even more.

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I have a special affinity for hand-written manuscripts, but especially so for ones with a great story. It is understood that Irish Columban monks living on the remote Scottish island Iona, created this manuscript around the year 750. Iona was the center of St. Columba’s influence, and was where his church was located. The Book of Kells contains the four gospels, a section of Hebrew names, and the Eusebian canons, and it is also known as the “Book of Columba.” In 878 “The Annals of Ulster record that following another Viking attack, the shrine of Colm Cille and 'other relics' are taken to Ireland.” How can it get worse than to be plundered by Vikings? (It can!) In 1066 "The Book is stolen for its cover of gold, inset with precious stones. Months later it is found buried under sods of earth in a bog, without its cover." After this point it was evidently kept fairly together, but the final restoration and binding did not happen until 1953! A description of the Kells that follows describes the amazing details and unbelievable talent the artists had in making it:

Almost equally characteristic are the zoomorphic interlacements, coloured representations of fanciful beings, or of men, animals, birds, horses, dogs, and grotesque, gargoyle-like human figures, twisted and hooked together in intricate detail. Other frequently occurring designs are a system of geometrical weaving of ribbons plaited and knotted together, and a simpler ornamentation by means of red dotted lines. The versatility and inventive genius of the illustrator surpasses all belief. Lines diverge and converge in endless succession, and the most intricate figures, in lavish abundance and with astounding variety of ornament, are combined and woven into one harmonious design. In spite of the extent of the work and its thousands of exquisite initials and terminals, there is not a single pattern or combination that can be said to be a copy of another. (Found here.)

I find this last fact simply amazing. Those Irish monks really knew what they were doing and I am so glad they were removed from underneath that bog!


SincerelyAmanda said...

I love your blog! The style and profile and all are lovely.

I just had to add you to my friends list...



SincerelyAmanda said...

This is Kate Kessler's blog? I wonder why I didn't figure that out. Yes, Rachel won the review contest. I thought she did quite a good job.

Chocolate has a very favorable - "review" if you will - with us. Haha....We're looking forward to it.

I can't wait to get involved with The Literary Club!



SincerelyAmanda said...

There aren't very many people with the last name "Read" (spelled R-e-a-d). I don't believe that we have ever met anyone with the last name spelled the same ways as ours!

Hmm....I'll have to figure that one out. I always heard that our relatives were over here since the Revolution.

George Read had 5 brothers, I think, so I assumed for awhile that most everyone with that last name in the United States of America descended from them. But I suppose that's not necessarily true.

There was a line of Thomas Reads in England and some went to Ireland. John Read (George's father) came from Ireland to America around the 1700's, but I think that Deborah's father came over earlier.

To make it more confusing, for a time they all spelled their name the Old English way (Reade) in the 1600s or so.

I'm not sure about the rest - I will have to double check my resources. :-)

Keep in touch,


esperanzavallero said...

Dear Kate,

How nice to catch up on all the happenings in your neck of the woods.

Congrats to John and Mark, and what a cute picture



drewsfamilytx said...

Wow! That IS beautiful!

Do you think that the bog might have saved it from further destruction for a time?


eclecticeducation said...

What a beautiful book!!! Thanks for sharing the history of it!!!

UndertheSky said...

Yes, I do think it must have. It is hard to comprehend the kind of battering it must have taken and to see it still looks as gorgeous as it is.

It is truly a treasure. :+)