HayFest Kells, and the Book of…

Looking forward to reading at the Hay Festival Kells this year, do come if you are anywhere near (or if you live in Dublin!) as there is lots and lots of interesting stuff going on, of which more later. Oddly what gave me the biggest buzz, so far, was to note in travel planning that there’s a main road in Kells called Maudlin Street, which I of course intend to walk down. The name seems entirely appropriate for a town famous for the Book of Kells, which historians believe survived safely in Kells up to ten centuries until in 1654 one of Oliver Cromwell’s cavalry units was stationed nearby and it was “temporarily” sent to Dublin for safekeeping, as a precautionary measure. keels The manuscript was gifted in 1661 to Trinity College Dublin, where I first became aware of it as a student crossing the cobbles of Front Square to get to lectures, and where it still remains to this day. Important manuscripts taken “for safekeeping” to other cities were not always so lucky: many original manuscripts taken for safekeeping from Iceland went up in smoke in the Great Fire of Copenhagen in 1728. If Kells has any residual maudlin feelings about the fact that Dublin hung on to its loan of the famous book a bit past its return-by date, hopefully the facts that The Book of Kells is now free to view online [but wait, takes a few seconds to load], and that Kells is home to its own vibrant book festival, provide some consolation. People taking part in events at Hay Festival Kells this year include Brian Eno (!!), Fintan O’Toole, Miles Dungan, Fabien Erlinghauser, Sara Baume, Ben Okri, and Laureate for Irish Fiction Anne Enright. The full programme can be found here and tickets can be bought online or locally. See you there…

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