The Book of Kells, an ancient manuscript housed in Dublin’s Trinity Library, is one of the most fascinating (and popular) sights in all of Ireland. The Kells Monastic Site in County Meath is where the historic book was first written by monks. The religious settlement here dates back to 553 AD, and much of the original monastery remains in tact today. It draws in visitors with its massive stone crosses, round tower, and preserved historic streets. In fact it is the largest collection of high crosses in one area, and was home to the Book of Kells for over 800 years before its move to the current home in Dublin.
Visiting the monastic site is a special experience that feels like going back in history, for not much has changed in the 1,200 years since it was constructed. The Abbey of Kells continues to be a significant site, having been raided by Viking conquerors in the 10th century. At one point, the Book of Kells was stolen during a raid — though later returned to its original home (without the cover.) Kills continues to be one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland.
Kells is located in County Meath, about 40 miles outside of Dublin. There is a small visitors center for the site, at the middle of town. The uncontrolled grounds are open 24 hours a day and free to access. You can also walk the historic Kells Heritage Trail to learn a bit more about the area’s significance.