If you’ve an hour or two to spare, why not check out the legacy that Alfred Chester Beatty left to the Irish people? Housed within the magnificent 18th century Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library is definitely one for the “must see” list!
Who was Chester Beatty?
Alfred Chester Beatty was born in 1875. A native of New York, Beatty graduated as a mining engineer from Columbia University. He built up an international reputation as a mining engineer and in 1908 he had a very successful mining consultancy in
New York. He was married to Grace Madeline Rickards and they had 2 children. Unfortunately his wife died in 1911 and it was then that he re-located to London, where he opened a new consultancy and also re-married.
Beatty had always been a collector since childhood. During his adult life he began to buy European and Persian manuscripts. A trip to Egypt in 1914 saw another opportunity and introduced Beatty to copies of the Qur’an. The dry climate was beneficial to Beatty’s health and he ended up buying a house in Cairo, where he spent many a winter.
1917 and a trip to Asia saw more additions to his expanding collections with Japanese and Chinese paintings. Jumping ahead to the 2nd World War, Chester Beatty received a Knighthood for his sterling efforts.
It was in 1950 when Chester Beatty finally moved across the Irish Sea. He built a library on Shrewsbury Road for his art collection. The Grand Opening for this project was 1954!
Chester Beatty has well established his place in Irish History, both for his collections which he left to a trust for the benefit of the general public and as Ireland’s 1st Honorary Citizen.
The Chester Beatty Library is situated in Dublin Castle Gardens in Dublin city centre. The 18th century Clock Tower building houses an Art Museum and Library, where you can see a vast collection of manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and decorative arts assembled by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty. An extension for exhibitions was added in the 1990′s. The building plays host to both Permanent and Temporary Exhibitions.
Permanent Exhibition: “Arts of the Book” – included are Chester Beatty’s Love Poems, Egyptian Books of the Dead, Medieval Manuscripts, books from Europe, Chinese jade books and Japanese picture-scrolls.
Permanent Exhibition: “Sacred Traditions” – a collection of Qur’an manuscripts, scrolls and books, manuscripts and miniature paintings from Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism and not forgetting the Biblical Papyri.
Temporary Exhibition: “Rembrandt – Etchings from the Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam”. This exhibition includes 75 of Rembrandts best prints.
Travelling Exhibitions: This exhibition consists of 6 albums, which were made in India for Mughal Emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan during the period 1600 to 1658. The Exhibition also includes some of the best Mughal paintings. The Exhibition will tour 5 major US cities from the 3rd of May to the 27th of September 2009.
The Chester Beatty Library boasts the following amazing collections: East Asian Collection, Islamic Collection and Western Collection. These collections include Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, the earliest known copies of the 4 Gospels, paintings and calligraphies, jade books and rhinoceros horn cups.
Admission to the Chester Beatty Library is free. Large groups will need to contact the Library in advance.
Public tours are available on Wednesdays and Sundays, and are offered under a variety of themes. An “E-guide” is available from reception (this is free of charge, however conditions apply). A charge is applicable for tours.
The Chester Beatty Library welcomes Researchers but they must make an appointment. First time Researchers will need references to back up their request.
On site facilities
The on-site shop could prove to be a good find – in store there are a vast array of items including cards, books, jigsaws, jewellery, silk scarves and even Christmas decorations!
After all that, time to sample some culinary delights at the Silk Road Café. Indulge with dishes from Afghanistan, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine and of course our own fair Isle!
How to get here
The library is a two-minute walk from Dame Street (via the Palace Street Gate of the Castle) and close to Christchurch Cathedral (enter via the Ship Street Gate of the Castle).
Nearest LUAS stops: Jervis & St Stephen’s Green
Nearest DART station: Tara Street.
Bus routes: 13, 16, 19, 123 (from O’Connell St)
For more information check out the Chester Beatty Library website.
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