I picked up “Treasures of the Library of Trinity College Dublin” some years ago and only opened it a few weeks ago.

It was written by George Otto Simms (1910-1995), a Dubliner who amongst other distinctions became Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin and later of Armagh, was an authOrity on the Book of Kells and wrote many books on it, He was a fluent speaker of Irish. A world-class scholar.

The founder of the Trinity College Library was also a Dubliner, born in 1581 and died in 1656 when he was still the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh (as had been one of his uncles). But he had not set foot in Ireland since 1640 and managed to keep his head being a supporter of the monarchy and friendly with those who cut the King’s head off  (Look up Wikipedia – it is fascinating).

During the Reformation the “Reformers” burnt books throughout Europe. Neither the NAZIS nor the TALIBAN did it on that scale..

Sir Thomas Bodley (1545-1613) founded a new Library in Oxford University (as that old University had suffered from the reforming zeal) and collected as much as had been spared it. Trinity College Dublin was founded in 1591 and Ussher, who kept in touch with Bodley established the Library there. Ussher was in touch with scholars throughout Europe, including Catholic scholars, among them a cousin of his own. The purpose of his vast scholarship was to prove that the Catholic Church was idolatrous superstition.

In the process he calculated from the Old Testament that the Earth was about 6,000 years old. As a matter of fact he claimed a more precise figure.

Ussher’s death preceded the restoration of the British monarchy by 4 years, and the establishment of THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON FOR THE  IMPROVEMENT OF  NATURAL KNOWLEDGE whose motto “NULLIUS IN VERBO” means “Take nobody’s word for it.”

Thus USSHER did not live to see  “Empiricism” or “Scientific Method” ushered into these islands.

Incidentally, Archbishop Simms’ book on Trinity’s library has a section on writers and writings in Irish from the early Middle Ages. It  would be an eye opener to clowns like Kevin Maher of THE TIMES who favours the extinction of a language which gave rise to the oldest literature North of the Alps.

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