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The Book of Kells: An Illustrated Introduction to the Manuscript in Trinity College Dublin by Bernard MeehanThe Book of Kells: An Illustrated Introduction to the Manuscript in Trinity College Dublin

by Bernard Meehan

There are dozens of world-famous, centuries-old illuminated manuscripts that have survived to the present day—and then there is the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells, painstakingly handcrafted by Irish monks circa 800 AD, is arguably the premier example of this form of religious devotion. It stands alone as the most magnificent masterpiece of Celtic art ever created. The manuscript contains the complete text of three of the Gospels—Matthew, Mark and Luke—and partial text of the Gospel of John. The illustrations in the manuscript can be quite small, as in the case of illuminated initial capitals, or they may occupy a full page. Some of the images are humorous and playful: figures of animals, angels or men may peer out at the reader from behind letters, or dangle between margins of text.

In his Illustrated Introduction to the Book of Kells, author Meehan discusses the manuscript's history, decorative influences, schemes and themes, the scribes and artists who created it, and how it was produced. Bernard Meehan is one of the world's foremost experts on the Book of Kells, and holds the position of Keeper of Manuscripts at Trinity College. This edition includes 111 color plates of the folios of the Book of Kells, including numerous detail photographs that allow you to see the exquisite designs and interlacings up close.

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Rating: 5 out of 5 Shamrocks for The Book of Kells: An Illustrated Introduction to the Manuscript in Trinity College Dublin by Bernard Meehan "The most precious object in the western world"
Resting at Trinity College Dublin is one of the truly singular products of early European art. This is 'The Book of Kells,' an ornately illuminated rendition of the four gospels, rendered sometime in the Ninth Century. It has been both an influence and an inspiration since the time of its making, illustrating both the story it tells, and the subtle mind of symbolists who wove the story and the art together.

One of the key problems the student of illustrated art suffers in any attempt to study 'The Book of Kells' is the simple matter of access. I believe that the replica edition of the book cost nearly $20,000 when it was published, and most other resources limit themselves to only the most famous of the pages. Only a few detailed studies exist, and this one, written by Bernard Meehan (Keeper of Manuscripts at Trinity College), is one of the best, both in terms of quality and quantity of reproduction as well as a literate and thorough discussion.

Meehan covers the book's history, influences and parallels, the decorative scheme, and many of the decorative themes used by the illuminators. He also spends time on the more technical aspects of ink and paper. He does this in a pleasant, straightforward yet academically thorough style that is often a fount of information. Where he does not go himself, he provides indications of other possibilities for research and thought. Meehan's agenda is simply to present one of the wonders of human creativity for all to see and enjoy, and he succeeds admirably.

Book of Kells Books | Irish Art Books | Celtic Art Books


The Most Beautiful Villages of Ireland PhotographyThe Most Beautiful Villages of Ireland
by Christopher Fitz-Simon, Hugh Palmer (Photographer)

Journey through the pages of this book to the most picturesque villages located in the ancient Irish provinces of Ulster, Leinster, Connacht and Munster. Browse 258 postcard-perfect color photographs presenting clusters of white cottages dotting rich green hillsides, the medieval churches of Roscommon and Galway, and the bright colors of village pubs and local shopfronts. Even if you're allergic to caffeine, this is one fantastic coffee table book.

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Rating: 5 out of 5 Shamrocks for The Most Beautiful Villages of Ireland Absolutely Breathtaking
This is a fantastic coffee table book. The photographer has captured so much color in each photograph, you almost expect some sort of visual explosion -- how can such a dynamically variegated palette be contained in a single picture?! The whitewashed cottages, the blue-green sea, the dun colored old castle walls... even the street signs are beautiful. I myself am half of Irish descent, and half of Italian descent. Although I must confess that in culinary terms, my Italian forebears had considerably more "on the ball" than my Irish ancestors, this book makes me appreciate some of the beauties that Ireland itself has to offer. It makes me determined to visit it at some point.

The book is divided into four parts. Each traditional ancient Irish kingdom has its own section -- Ulster, Leinster, Connacht, and Munster. Each section is also followed by a brief photographic essay, dealing with such topics as "Ancient Ireland," "Bar and Shop Fronts," and "Painted Villages." At the end, there is a useful map, a travellers guide complete with phone numbers and addresses of Inns and hostels, and a very handy little bibliography.

I would just like to also recommend, for anyone with an interest in Irish history, "The Atlas of Irish History" by Sean Duffy. It is out of print, but you should ask your local librarian if he or she can find it, using OCLC or inter-library loan. If, like me, you have Irish blood in you, you will be familiar with the feeling of being quite alienated from the broader sweep of European history prior to the settlement of America. I once looked in the index of an encyclopedia, and actually found more entries on Native Americans, who of course are considered to be a marginalized people, than I could find on the Irish. This book, and the atlas I recommended, can help remedy that situation, and "The Most Beautiful Villages of Ireland" can beautify any home. Two thunbs up -- check this one out.

Irish Gardens by Olda Fitzgerald (Editor), Stephen Robson (Photographer)Irish Gardens

by Olda Fitzgerald (Editor), Stephen Robson (Photographer)

From artifacts to literature, music, and most recently, dance, Americans are fascinated by things Irish. Irish Gardens introduces an evocative portrait of 20 of the most beautiful gardens found on the Emerald Isle.

More than 220 color photos, paintings, and garden plans are utilized brilliantly to tell stories and to reveal design and planting secrets that combine to create a particular ambiance. Examples are historic sites such as Mount Stewart in County Down, wild romantic paradises such as Ilnacullen in Bantry Bay, and traditional walled vegetable gardens like Kinoith in Cork. Read more

About the Author
Olda Fitzgerald has written extensively on Irish houses, gardens, and people for several publications, including World of Interiors, American House and Garden, Vogue, Architectural Digest, and The Spectator. She and her husband give lectures and seminars to horticultural groups in the U.S. She lives in Ireland.

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Rating: 5 out of 5 Shamrocks for Irish Gardens by Olda Fitzgerald (Editor), Stephen Robson (Photographer) Almost like being there
We had the good fortune to first see Fitzgerald's book while staying at Glin Castle along the River Shannon (Olda Fitzgerald's residence). This garden is one of many spectacular pieces featured. Walking through the actual garden was a walk through a bit of heaven. The photos in the book will serve as a beautiful reminder of what all that rain in Ireland can do to a piece of well cared for earth.

Gardens of Ireland depicts the lush beauty of other places that will take priority on my "must see" list if I'm lucky enough to return to Ireland. Enjoy!

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