61 The illustrations and text were all handprinted on high-quality vellum pages (it’s thought that the skins of 185 calves were used). And save for several missing pages at the beginning and end of the book, it is in incredibly good shape. The tome’s history, as you might imagine, is a storied one. The Book of Kells survived thieves and Viking raids and even several months buried in the ground — hence the missing pages at the beginning and the end, it’s believed. And it is also thought that the book of gospels was originally encased in a gold and jewel-encrusted container, which went missing over the ages. The book has remained at Trinity College Dublin for over 350 years, half of which it has been on display to the public, drawing some 500.000 visitors per year to simply bask in its beauty. Find yourself among them, and prepare to be wowed not only by the Book of Kells, but by the surrounding exhibits that explain the tools the monks used and the extremely harsh period of history they endured, too. OPENING OF ST. LUKE’S GOSPEL QUONIAM FROM THE BOOK OF KELLS “When you think about the conditions the monks worked in to create (the Book of Kells) and the passion they must have felt for their God and the love of the Scriptures, one can almost feel blessed to see pages,” says Halsted. Freelance travel writer Terry Ward is based in Florida but frequently on the road (or at sea!) to report stories. Her work has been published by such outlets as Travel Channel, the Washington Post, Travel+Leisure and Cruise Critic. Visit her website to learn more, www.terry-ward.com.