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Cultural treasure: Story of a modern-day 'Book of Kells'

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Masterpiece: Poem ‘The Achill Woman’ by Eavan Boland as it appears in the ‘The Great Book of Ireland’

Masterpiece: Poem ‘The Achill Woman’ by Eavan Boland as it appears in the ‘The Great Book of Ireland’

Masterpiece: Poem ‘The Achill Woman’ by Eavan Boland as it appears in the ‘The Great Book of Ireland’

Some of Ireland's best-known artists, poets and musicians are to feature in a new documentary that tells the story of the creation of Ireland's so-called modern-day 'Book of Kells'.

President Michael D Higgins, Bono, the late poet and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, the late artist Louis le Brocquy, actor Daniel Day-Lewis and writer Sebastian Barry are among some of the household names who feature in 'The Great Book of Ireland' which airs on RTÉ One on August 20.

The documentary explores the fascinating work that went into the creation of the 278-page vellum manuscript which - like the 9th-century illuminated manuscript, the 'Book of Kells' - is meant to last for a millennium.

The book contains the work of 121 artists, 144 poets and nine composers.

Among the treasures contained in the book is the last handwritten poem by Samuel Beckett, as well as poems written by Seamus Heaney, and literary contributions from President Higgins when he was aged in his 40s.

The documentary was commissioned by University College Cork (UCC), which acquired the book in 2012 so it could be "preserved, promoted, and displayed in perpetuity on behalf of the Irish people", according to UCC Chief Librarian John FitzGerald.

Poet Theo Dorgan and artist Gene Lambert were the architects of the project, which drew on the artistic community to contribute through their own mediums what they believed would represent the hopes, fears and dreams of the Irish landscape .

UCC President Professor Patrick O'Shea hopes the book will become the centrepiece of its Treasures Gallery and "becomes a destination to visit on our campus, so that the public can experience the imagination and beauty of this remarkable Irish cultural treasure".

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