centerlogobigAAD logo


After a lazy Sunday wandering through Dublin City Centre, trying to dodge the random deluges of rain that broke through the sunny sky, I decided to take a stroll through Dublin Castle. The Castle Gardens sit on the site of the Black Pool; known as Dubh Linn in Irish, this is where the city’s English name comes from. The beautiful grass area, which is designed with Celtic jewellery in mind, leads to the glass entrance hall of the Chester Beatty Library. Residing in the Clock Tower Building of Dublin Castle, the Library is supplemented by a custom-built exhibition space.

View of Dublin Castle & Gardens From Entrance of Chester Beatty Library,
Source: Author's Own

A special exhibition, entitled ‘Chester Beatty’s A to Z: Amulet to Zodiac’, is on the first floor of the new extension. A collector since childhood, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, an influential American mining businessman who retired to Ireland in 1950, collected a number various objets d’art, manuscripts, icons and early printed books, which was left to public on his death. The small but very engaging exhibition is curated alphabetically, displaying the breadth of the Library’s collection.

a to z chester 1

Bust of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty,
Source: Author's Own

Under A for Amulet, there is a gorgeous 17-19th century Islamic jade amulet. Inscribed in the centre is a golden ‘magic square’ filled with tiny, delicate numerals and the name Shah Sultan, presumably, the original owner. The Embroidery section has a beautiful selection of 16th and 17th century devotional books and almanacs, many covered in velvet, satin and silk and embellished with metallic and silk thread. There is a stunning Coëtivy hours, originally commissioned by Prigent de Coëtivy in 1444 and acquitted by Edith Beatty for her husband. The Jade part of the exhibition had some delightful snuff bottles from China, ranging from 1720 to 1850. Two in particular caught my eye; one of white nephrite jade in the shape of a gold fish and a dragon-headed carp, made from grey nephrite jade.

a to z chester 2

Exhibition Banner in the Entrance Hall of The Chester Beatty Library,
Source: Author's Own

With no fear of developing the dreaded ‘museum legs’ or exhibition overload, ‘Chester Beatty’s A to Z: Amulet to Zodiac’, brings the viewer through Western, Islamic and East Asian cultures, giving insight to a number of faiths. More importantly, it presents an opportunity to get into the mind of a great collector and Ireland’s first honorary citizen, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty.

Chester Beatty’s A to Z: Amulet to Zodiac is on until the 1st of February 2015 at The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.

The Online Gallery of some of the works on display can be found here:

Twitter: @Sinead Brophy