advertisement

If there’s a better small museum in Ireland, we have yet to find it. This dazzling collection of early religious texts and other priceless artifacts in Dublin Castle is named in honor of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, an Anglo-American industrialist who bequeathed his unique private collection to the Irish nation when he died in 1968. And what a collection it is! Beatty was one of the great 20th-century adventurer-collectors, of the kind that simply could not exist today. Highlights of the bequest include breathtaking illuminated gospels and early Bibles (including the oldest known fragment in existence, from A.D. 150); impeccable 15th-century Qurans; Quranic scrolls from the 8th and 9th centuries; and sacred Buddhist texts from Burma and Tibet. Look for the ancient Egyptian love letter, near the entrance to the upper floor. There’s no translation—a museum employee once told us that they commissioned one but it was far too racy to display! Though the core collection remains the same, exhibits are constantly changing, and you’re unlikely to see the same manuscripts on every visit. Why queue and pay a tenner to see two pages from the Book of Kells when you can lose yourself in this wonderful place for free?