About Chester Beatty Library
The Chester Beatty Library, in Dublin, has one of the world’s great collections of manuscripts and related art from across the world with a particular emphasis on the great cultures and religions of the world.
History of the Chester Beatty Library
Alfred Chester Beatty – the ‘King of Copper’ – was an American businessman (specifically, a mining magnate) and philanthropist. He used his great wealth to collect manuscripts, prints and rare books from across the world. He was made an honorary Irish citizen in 1957 but prior to this, he created the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin in 1950 and opened it to the public in 1954.
On his death in 1968, Chester Beatty bequeathed his collections to the Irish people (entrusted to the care of the Irish state). In 2000, the museum opened in its present location, in the grounds of Dublin Castle, and was named European Museum of the Year in 2002.
The Chester Beatty Library today
The Chester Beatty is a remarkable museum, and there’s huge quantities of history and culture to absorb from across the world. Come prepared to learn, and having a phone / access to the internet can be useful in case you want to look up specific words or topics to understand them properly.
The material is divided between Western, Islamic and East Asian collections, and then subdivided again. There are frequently temporary exhibitions on, often highlighting world religions, specific artists or cultural phenomena or regional exposes. The library has quite a dark interior for conservation purposes, but the entrance hall and cafe is light and airy if it gets a bit much. Be sure to check out the excellent gift shop and café too.
Free guided tours run three times a week, normally on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays – check the website for precise timings. The library is closed on Mondays during the winter months.
Getting to the Chester Beatty Library
The Chester Beatty is located in the grounds of Dublin Castle, just behind the castle itself. It’s easily accessed from Dame Street or Bride Street. Buses stop frequently along Dame Street, Bride Street and Aungier Street. The nearest Luas stops are Trinity / Westmoreland (Green Line) or Jervis (Red Line) – they’re all a 10 minute walk away.