Residents of the County Meath town of Kells want the most famous book in the world and Ireland’s major tourist attraction back – but Trinity College is refusing to repatriate The Book of Kells.
A new campaign has been launched in the medieval town to bring the famous manuscript back to its hometown over 350 years after its removal.
Locals in Kells have formed a new lobby group with the intention of getting Trinity College to release at least one of the four volumes of the ancient manuscript so it can go on display in Kells.
They want to base a new tourism industry around the manuscript which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Dublin city centre university each year.
Just a few months ago the Queen of England was an interested visitor to the College to see the Book of Kells for herself.
The book was written by monks around 800 AD. It went missing when Oliver Cromwell’s army arrived in Kells in 1654, and resurfaced in Trinity six years later.
The current display at the College features the illuminated copy of the four Gospels and is one of the top five tourist attractions in Ireland.
The Book is worth millions to the College as it can attract over half a million fee paying visitors each year.
College bosses have however already rejected the attempts to relocate The Book of Kells.
The new Kells group said: “The book is an early Christian artifact and should be celebrated in an early Christian setting as opposed to its current profane setting.”
Kells Tourism Forum chairman Aidan Wall added: “Trinity College does not own the Book of Kells; it is a national treasure and is owned by the people of Ireland. Our town is its natural and spiritual home.
“The forum believes that having one volume of the book in their town would boost tourism.”
Trinity College responded however with a statement which said “The display and storage of the manuscript are subject to very careful environmental controls and security.
“Since the year 2000, it has been the policy of the board of Trinity College on the grounds of security, environmental and preservation concerns to decline such requests.
“The preservation of this manuscript must take priority over all other considerations.”