The Chester Beatty Library is a combination library and art museum located on the ground of Dublin Castle. It was established in 1950 to house the spectacular private collection of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, a Canadian mining magnate. He donated the collection to Ireland two decades before his death. The current building was opened in 2000.
There are three main collections: Western, Islamic, and East Asian. The Western collection includes a wide array of papyri, including the earliest known copies the Book of Revelation, Letters of Saint Paul, and the four gospels. It's one of the world's best collections of papyrus. There's also a wide array of rare illuminated manuscripts from medieval times.
The Islamic collection features more than 6,000 objects, including paintings and calligraphy. Fragments of the Quran dating from the eighth and ninth centuries can be found here too. The East Asian collection has several Chinese imperial jade manuscripts, as well as carved snuff bottles, Rhinoceros horn cups, and textiles. There are also Japanese painted scrolls from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as woodblock prints.
The museum is one of Ireland's best attractions, especially considering its free. In 2002, it was named European Museum of the Year. The displays are informative and user friendly. The staff is helpful and attentive too. Guided tours of the library are available on select days. Call ahead before planning a trip. This is a must see for anyone interested in history or religion.
Location: Castle Street, Dublin West
Telephone: +353 01 407 0750
Hours: Open Monday to Friday 10:00-17:00 (May through September); Tuesday to Friday 10:00-17:00 (October through April)
Admission: No admission.