Wednesday, August 31, 2011

University rejects fresh Kells bid

Ireland's top university has rejected renewed efforts in the 40-year battle to have the priceless Book of Kells returned to its home town.

Trinity College Dublin has dismissed the latest attempts by campaigners to strike a deal to share the world-renowned ancient manuscripts.

Despite several failed attempts at a homecoming, council and tourism bosses in the Co Meath town have revived efforts to haggle with academics and in a bid to boost tourism.

But Trinity chiefs rejected the approach, citing preservation, safety and security of the irreplaceable manuscript.

"Its display and storage are subject to very careful environmental controls and security. Additionally, a team of conservation specialists in the library's conservation department look after the manuscript's preservation," said a college spokeswoman.

"The preservation, safety and security of the manuscript are paramount in relation to requests for loan received by Trinity College."

Aidan Wall, chairman of Kells Tourism Forum, said a deal to share the famous works would bring tourists to both Trinity and Kells.

"We believe by having part of the book in Kells and part in Trinity the total number of visitors overall would be increased - we are not out to do any harm," he said.

"I think it's time to share it. There's no reason two volumes or one volume could not be in Kells."

The ornate Book of Kells containing the four Gospels in Latin was written around the year 800 and taken to Trinity by Henry Jones, an officer in Oliver Cromwell's army, after it was discovered in 1654 in St Columba's Church in Meath.