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Exhibition: Ireland and the birth of Europe


Monday, September 11, 2023, 10:00 - Friday, October 20, 2023, 17:00


The Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2


The exhibition is free to visit on limited dates. Dates are listed below.

This illustrated exhibition tells the story of the part played by Irish scholars and missionaries in the early history of the European idea.

“Ireland and the birth of Europe” is a captivating exhibit that highlights the deep-rooted historical connections between Ireland and the European Union. The exhibit is a part of the Irish government’s EU50 celebrations and showcases the rich cultural heritage and political ties between Ireland and the rest of Europe.

Ireland joined the European Economic Community, the forerunner of the European Union, in 1973, but Irish participation in the development of European identities dates back more than a thousand years. After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West, Europeans built on its foundations to develop their own culture and identity. The Irish played an important role in this great enterprise.

This richly illustrated exhibition tells the story of the part played by Irish scholars and missionaries in the early history of the European idea. St Columbanus was the first of the Irish missionaries and scholars to make a home on the Continent and in around the year 600, became the first to write ‘of all of Europe’ (totius Europae). He and his followers contributed to the shaping of a European heritage that endures today. 

The exhibition is available for viewing in Academy House on the following dates and times:

  • Thursday 12 October, 10am – 3pm

  • Tuesday 17 October, 10am – 1pm

  • Wednesday 18 October, 10am – 2pm

  • Friday 20 October, 10am – 5pm

Please feel free to contact the Library on (01) 609 0601 before travelling to confirm the exhibition is open.  

Researched, written and curated by Dr Damian Bracken, University College Cork, and Dr Angela Byrne for the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Graphic design by Studio Suss.

Image credit: Depiction of Columbanus and his disciple Gall crossing Lake Constance from a fifteenth-century manuscript. St Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 602, p. 33 – Vitae of German saints

Tabhair tacaíocht do thodhchaí an léinn in Éirinn

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