Prince Albert of Monaco makes major donation to the conservation of the iconic Old Library at Trinity College

Prince Albert II of Monaco signing the visitors book in the Long Room in Trinity College his children Princess Gabriella and The Crown Prince Jacques.

Allison Bray

Prince Albert of Monaco was shown the Book of Kells and other treasures from the Old Library during a ceremonial tour of Trinity College today as part of his three-day visit to Ireland.

His visit marks 60 years since the State visit to Ireland of his late parents, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace in 1961 and ten years since his first State visit here in 2011.

During the tour in which he was accompanied by his children, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques, and a frieze with the names of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco were unveiled on the University’s Benefactors Wall.

A second frieze with the name of HSH Prince Albert was also unveiled in the Gallery of the Long Room of the Old Library in recognition of a major donation he made to conserve the university's iconic 18th century Old Library.

He said: “It is with great pleasure that through this donation I follow in the footsteps of my mother who had a deep affection for Ireland and signals the link to Princess Charlene’s forebears who were instrumental to the founding of Trinity. It is a great privilege for me − with this benefaction – to be part of this ambitious programme to conserve the 18th century Old Library building, creating a sustainable protective environment for the many extraordinary treasures it holds for Ireland and the world.”

During his visit to the Old Library, the prince was shown the Book of Kells and given a special viewing of the library’s collections related to the work of his grandfather Prince Albert 1, who was a keen oceanographer and explorer.

The collection included copies of the earliest treatises on oceanography from the 18th century that form part of the library’s Dutch Fagel Collection.

Librarian and college archivist, Helen Shenton said: “The evolution of the library of Trinity College has been made possible over the centuries by visionary benefactors who understood the importance of the library for Ireland and for the advancement of scholarship, culture and civilisation.”

"The Old Library Redevelopment Project will be using leading technology and preventive conservation, providing optimum environmental conditions for the 18th century building and its precious collections.

"With this ambitious conservation programme we are ensuring that future generations will continue to benefit from it and be inspired. It will be accessible to all, our scholars and public in an historic building reinterpreted for the 21st century.”

Meanwhile TCD Provost and President, Prof Linda Doyle said: “We are delighted to welcome Prince Albert II to Trinity College Dublin. His visit builds on Trinity’s existing links with Monaco through the Princess Grace Irish Library and our Centre for War Studies.”

“Prince Albert joins a tradition of philanthropy that dates from the establishment of the University in 1592. On behalf of the Trinity community, I would like to thank Prince Albert for his support of this landmark restoration project which will ensure the preservation of the Old Library, as a global cultural icon for Trinity, the city of Dublin and Ireland.”

Earlier today, he paid a visit to Áras an Uachtaráin, taking time to look at photos of the 1961 visit by his parents with President Micheal D Higgins.