Trinity College Book Sale

This wonderful event is on the 4th to 6th of March this year. Imagine living close to the event – more time spent ferrying new purchases home than browsing if it was me. As it stands I will be driving there and spending short trips to the car with rucksacks full of books.
To set the scene first – Trinity is in the middle of Dublin. Its portal opens on to the mad traffic close to the Quays, O’Connell street and the north side, Dame street and pedestrians coming and going to the shops in the Grafton street area. Generally anyone can step inside the college during the daytime. When you arrive at the doors they should be open so in you go. Inside the courtyards it starts to quieten. There may be people who try to get you to join a tour – up to you. The oldest building is facing you as you come into the first open square – a redbrick building I believe is called the “Rubrics”. Bring your flask and sandwiches and walk towards the building. It lies across your path so keep to the right and you pass the “Long Room” which is the old library. You enter on the right corner of another square behind the redbrick building so keep moving along on the right side till the grounds open up – for cricket and rugby mostly – on your right. You will find ornamental cherry trees and benches close by. Have a peaceful picnic in this oasis of calm with a book – a world away from the crowds. Peace is a wonderful thing to my mind.
Anyway – the book sale. It is held every year. Any book donations to the library during the year that are judged better sold than kept will be held for the annual sale. The dates vary but it starts on a Thursday evening with an auction for the most valuable objects – letters, signed copies, rare items, etc. The open sale begins Friday in a hall on the right as you come through the main entrance. People with boxes of books mark the way. Each book has a price on it and the books are laid out on sorted subject tables. A vast number of subjects are represented and books from all ages are there. My oldest purchase was a reprinted history book from 1804 – first printed in 1794. History started in 4004 BC and moved seamlessly forward to cover Biblical, Greek and Roman events before addressing more recent happenings. I believe the reprint was to change the words using the letter F as the letter S, with the actual letter S. Most such changes happened in print around that time, I believe. Saturday is my favourite – half price morning – everything is half price. At 2.10 pm that day they will sell off the remainder by the boxload for what ever price can be achieved. Each time I fill a rucksack I run a reality check to make sure I haven’t bought too many books. Considerations include not breaking the back axle of the car with the weight of books, not financially ruining my family, not buying books I may never read, etc. Pace myself and be brutal with choices – but I still need a rucksack.
My favourite sections are History, Travel, Hobbies (I got “How to Drive a Steamtrain” there), Fiction, Archaeology, Woodworking, Bookshelves and Libraries, Gardening, Buildings and everything else I find of interest (not being flippant but saving your time with my sometimes wild magpie choices list). As you become more involved in books you will see that not everyone judges the category of a book as you do. I got a beautiful book on the archaeology of Carthage with glorious illustrations once at that sale. It was in the Archaeology section, but it turns out the text was in French. I really must remember the pacing and brutality of choice thing. Some years are better than others and you may find too much, loads, or room to include the more fringe choices – its all down to the random donations during the year. Maybe I will see you there. I am looking forward to it.

Trinity Book Sale

Trinity Book Sale



Filed under Books and their home.

11 responses to “Trinity College Book Sale

  1. If I lived in Dublin, that’s where you’d find me! Thanks for sharing

  2. is temping, not it’s temping – blasted phones! you need fingers thinner than needles to type properly, and eyesight sharper than eagles to spot autocorrect auto-choices.

    • I know how you feel – tech can get a bit daft. As for auto carhire – well it can be difficult.

      • He he he, good one. I got a little bit in trouble a few weeks ago when instead of “little ones” my phone wrote “little ogres” referring to some children I help out with at the local orchestra. The name stuck and this is how other committee members call them. No point arguing. The damage is done.

  3. Gosh. I’m envious. I have only been a ‘Book of Kells’ tourist at Trinity.

  4. The book of Kells is a beautiful piece. If you choose to visit again here is a little bit of help. If you join the Friends of the Library (for €30) you receive certain privileges. Free entry to the book of Kells and the
    Long Room with a friend and you go straight to the top of any queue. Invited to selected lectures with the option of dinner and college cellar wine. Annual publications, etc. it’s like buying a ticket to the Forum so you can walk past the 3 hour queue for the Colosseum kind of thing. Thanks for the comment!

  5. wucommafrances

    Wow, you are so lucky to be able to buy books from places like these. I’m stuck in a place where the only book store available is Barnes and Nobles. That’s basically the only bookstore left in America, and Amazon doesn’t count because I can’t walk in and admire beautiful books.

    • Thank you very much for your comment. There are certain differences between a second hand sale and a book supermarket that I do appreciate. After appreciating the surroundings of books (old books make people behave better than a librarian in my experience) the next is always the treasure hunt feeling. There could be anything here – anything. Sometimes not so much to be honest, but sometimes I need to park close and make visits with a rucksack. Notes in books are usually appreciated. Personal observations or messages are the norm. The next feeling I usually get is the care and attention in the binding of the books. They could be tattered cloth boards but they have lasted – nothing like what is on the shelves today. Leather is also seen but usually priced higher because some like the use of a book as an interior design tool. Nothing wrong with it but you know when you look at a persons shelves and spot legal texts from the 1840’s along side kitchen remedies, dictionaries and romance. Its like a business meeting where the suit works better than the person. Perhaps a suggestion would be to write to one of the shops in Hay on Wye (or elsewhere) in the old fashioned way. They post catalogues and some of the correspondence is enjoyable in and of itself. Its a lot nicer than Amazon in some ways, but perhaps slower.

      • wucommafrances

        Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to reply! And I agree, there’s so much to enjoy about older books and used bookstores.

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