Set within the grounds of Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library houses the collection of wealthy American mining magnate Sir Alfred Chester Beatty. Exhibits include thousands of rare books, from copies of the Quran and the Bible to ancient Egyptian papyrus texts, as well as paintings, woodblocks, textiles, and decorative arts.
The only Irish winner of the coveted European Museum of the Year Award, the Chester Beatty Library is one of Ireland’s leading museums. It hosts two permanent exhibitions (Arts of the Book and Sacred Traditions) as well as a changing roster of temporary exhibitions.
Most visitors explore the collections independently, after arriving on foot or via hop-on hop-off tour buses, though free drop-in guided tours are available on Wednesdays (1pm) and Sundays (3pm and 4pm). Some history-themed walking tours of Dublin make stops at the library, together with nearby historic sights such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Chester Beatty Library is a must for culture vultures.
- An on-site shop sells books, gifts, and souvenirs.
- Refreshments, snacks, and Mediterranean and Middle Eastern–influenced plates are available at the museum’s Silk Road Café.
- The library is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair access is via Dublin Castle’s Ship Street Gate.
How to Get There
The Chester Beatty Library is situated within the grounds of Dublin Castle, just a short stroll from Temple Bar, Grafton Street, and Trinity College. The nearest Luas tram stops are St. Stephen’s Green and Trinity, both of which are about 10 minutes away on foot.
When to Get There
During the summer months, the library can be busy, particularly after 12pm, so come in the morning to explore when it’s quiet. Note that a maximum of 15 people can be accommodated on guided tours, and participation is on a first-come first-served basis. Arrive early to ensure a spot.
Highlights of the Chester Beatty Collection
Among the most fascinating items on show are the examples of ancient Egyptian love poetry, which are written on papyrus manuscripts and are believed to date back to around 1100 BC. The Sacred Traditions exhibit houses a valuable collection of Qurans dating from between the ninth and 19th century and showcases ornate Islamic illuminations and calligraphy.