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Chester Beatty Library

The Chester Beatty library, former European museum of the year, contains many internationally important artefacts. Stand-out examples of the library's unique attractions include:

  • The oldest manuscript, in any language, of Mark's Gospel
  • The oldest manuscript, in any language, of Paul's Letters
  • The oldest manuscript, in any language, of the Book of Revelations

This very special treasure of Dublin exists courtesy of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968), an American of Irish descent who made his millions in the Canadian mining industry.

This lengthy, interesting interview with the museum's director is interspersed with rare video footage of artefacts inside the libraryBeatty enjoyed collecting works of art and religious manuscripts from the Middle and Far East. After amassing a truly unique collection, he donated it to Ireland, where it is currently housed in the clock tower building at Dublin Castle. He was proclaimed the first honorary Citizen of Dublin in return for his generosity. The Chester Beatty Library museum contains a diverse and amazing collection of artefacts from the Muslim world, including Turkish and Persian paintings and nearly 300 Koran manuscripts created by the finest calligraphers across the Arab world.

Papyri and Manuscripts

The Chester Beatty Library is an important research centre for biblical scholars. High tech equipment is used to analyse some of the world's oldest parchments of the New Testament. As well as Greek paypri from the 2nd century, the library holds Babylonian clay tablets from 2700 B.C., and manuscripts from Egypt written in the Coptic language. Many manuscripts are religious in nature, true treasures written to enlighten the world about various religious traditions. These items include:

  • Buddhist literature
  • Confucian scrolls
  • Jewish texts
  • The Pauline Letters, from 180-200 A.D.
  • A papyrus fragment of St John's Gospel, taken from the oldest New Testament in existence, from 250 A.D.

There are also touch screen computer presentations on various religions as well as the art inspired by them. 

Far East

From the Far East, there are imperial robes from China, as well as Chinese jade books, written on thin pages of real jade with gold ornamentation, and Japanese paintings from the 16th to 18th centuries. Also popular - 18th and 19th century Parabaiks from Burma, collections of folktales with magical illustrations on paper made from mulberry leaves. 


The Chester Beatty Library also houses some contemporary art exhibitions within its space, has an exquisite, peaceful garden, and a gift shop that offers some truly unique souvenirs based on the treasures located in the museum itself. 


Chester Beatty Library. Image by William Murphy


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