THE BOOK OF KELLS:In the contemporary world the illuminated manuscript on display at Trinity College Dublin now stands as a founding classic, as ripe to nonreligious readers as it is to people of faith.
The Isle of Iona is close to Ireland, and it has always mattered to me, a Scot with an Irish name, that our common literature begins in that fertile place. This summer I took Seamus Heaney and some other friends to visit Iona, and we agreed that the atmosphere on the island is unmistakable. Dr Johnson and James Boswell felt the same way when they stepped off the boat in the autumn of 1773 and spontaneously hugged one another. “It’s some place,” said Heaney as we walked through the renovated cloisters of the abbey by the sea. “Can you hear the wind?”