The Book of Kells

Number one on my list of things to see on our trip to the UK and the Republic of Ireland was the Book of Kells at Trinity College University of Dublin. I had been eager to see it since I was a Library Science student at the Women’s University of Mississippi. I had showed Steven my copy of the facsimile of several pages, so he knew a little of what to expect.

The manuscript is indeed spectacular and very beautiful. I could barely wrench the boys and myself away from the display.

The following information comes from the Trinity College website:

The Book of Kells is celebrated for its lavish decoration. The manuscript contains the four Gospels in Latin based on a Vulgate text, written on vellum (prepared calfskin), in a bold and expert version of the script known as “insular majuscule”.

The place of origin of the Book of Kells is generally attributed to the scriptorium of the monastery founded around 561 by St Colum Cille on Iona, an island off the west coast of Scotland. In 806, following a Viking raid on the island which left 68 of the community dead, the Columban monks took refuge in a new monastery at Kells, County Meath. It must have been close to the year 800 that the Book of Kells was written, although there is no way of knowing if the book was produced wholly at Iona or at Kells, or partially at each location.

It has been on display in the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin from the mid 19th century, and attracts over 500,000 visitors a year. Since 1953 it has been bound in four volumes. Two volumes are on public view, one opened to display a major decorated page, and one to show two pages of script. The volumes are changed at regular intervals.

Airport Security

Things being as they are in this new world, I’m happy to cooperate in all ways with airport security and don’t grumble much. But does a grandma and two teen-age boys look suspicious enough to warrant three searches in one day? Well, we were told it was random.

Part of the problem had to do with my sore throat. I put my cough medicine in my checked luggage going to London. No problem. But on the way home, I had it in my purse—along with some extra herbal cough syrup I bought in London. I poured most of it out so there was only about one ounce in each bottle. But the bottles themselves could hold several ounces.

After going through the scanner, I gathered up my head scarf (the one I was protecting my throat with) and my blanket (because the bus had been so cold I had become attached to it) and Steven’s heavy sweatshirt. Loaded down, I went to the ladies room. I started to hang up my purse, BUT I HAD NO PURSE!!  No passport; no I D. Panic!! I ran back to the scanning place and there were my purse and carry on. I had not been informed the officials were going through my belongings. And I had foolishly not checked for them. They apologized; I will be more careful in the future.

 I was told I couldn’t take the cough syrup on the plane. So I swallowed it all. (My sore throat cleared up). Here is the interesting thing that I learned from my grandson—it isn’t the amount of liquid that is important; it’s the fact that a weapon could be hidden in the bottle. Thank goodness for grandchildren.

I discovered the officials were going through Steven’s stuff, too. We were concerned about the beautiful crystal picture frame Steven had bought his mother in Waterford, but it was not harmed. (But they did not find the orange in his backpack). Steven had taken an orange from the States to England and it was still in his backpack when we returned. They didn’t seem to care in England, but back in the US, we were asked to report to the agricultural inspection station. There they confiscated the orange.

Then at the last checkpoint, we were searched a third time. We had to laugh.

I’m just glad we weren’t rushed to catch a plane.


I’ve just returned from a thrilling tour through the United Kingdom and The Republic of Ireland with my grandson, Steven (age 17), and his cousin, Corey (age 18 2/3). As you can imagine, that takes courage. Those boys had to climb on anything climbable, including, castle walls, a five-hundred-year-old tree at Leeds Castle, and the White Cliffs of Dover. It was a wonderful tour, and one we will always remember, especially viewing the Book of Kells and the Bog Man mummy in Dublin, admiring the beautiful crystal in Waterford, soaring above London in the London Eye, riding through the Viking archeological site, Jorvik, in York, standing in two time zones at the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, and being awed by several magnificent cathedrals—Canterbury, York Minster, Westminster Abbey, and Salisbury Cathedral. Our good intentions to keep up our journals were somewhat thwarted by jet lag and time constraints. I took notes, though, and will try to piece together a comprehensible journal. A highlight of our Trafalgar Tour, “Britain and Ireland Delight,” was meeting interesting people and making instant friends. p.s. Thanks to Yvonne at AAA for being a great travel agent. I mustn’t forget to mention that Steven was chosen to participate in the “haggis ceremony.” Haggis isn’t half bad. Also, we visited Stratford-on-Avon and saw Shakespeare’s burial site as well as Anne Hathaway’s cottage; Edinburgh Castle (the Queen was in town that day); the site where Thomas Becket was murdered; saw Stonehenge; rode in front of the house where Jane Austin lived in Bath and felt of the healing hot water at Bath. Oh, yeah, the boys left me stranded in the maze at Leeds Castle.

Journey to Alabama

Brandon, Andrew and I journed to their Aunt Cindy’s house in Lillian to meet up with their parents and brother, Steven, Aunt Cindy and cousins Corey and Jessica. Lots of rain. Big dinner at the Lambert’s Cafe, home of the throwed roll. Delicious food. Then we walked on the beach at Gulf Shores. The results of the oil spill are showing on the previously prinstine beach. That was depressing.

Next week Steven and Corey are taking me to the UK. More about that later.

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