Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) is urging Trinity against reopening the Book of Kells next month as students sit exams.
Under the government’s phased plan to lift Covid-19 restrictions, cultural attractions can reopen from May 10, which also marks the start of two weeks of assessments for students.
Speaking to Trinity News, TCDSU President Eoin Hand said that “this is something that was brought to us last week, which I opposed, and asked that it be postponed until after exams”.
“I have since brought it up two more times asking for a postponement of the opening of the Book of Kells until after the exams,” Hand said.
He said that students “haven’t had access to campus for many different reasons due to restrictions”.
“I’m really disappointed to see that the Book of Kells will be reopened again and tourists will be allowed back on campus when so many students still can’t access campus,” he said.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll still be able to work out a solution that is beneficial for students. That conversation will remain open.”
Trinity News has contacted College to ask for confirmation on the planned date of reopening.
The official Book of Kells website is not yet accepting ticket purchases.
If a user tries to buy a ticket, they are directed to a page with the message: “Sales disabled.”
Earlier this evening, TCDSU stated on social media that “after the year we’ve had, it’s disappointing that @tcddublin would even consider re-opening the Book of Kells in the middle of a pandemic and during the most stressful time for students”.
“They’ve had every opportunity to postpone this until after the exam period,” the union said.
Hand tweeted: “Very disappointed to hear @tcddublin will be reopening the Book of Kells for tourists during the up coming exam period. This is something I have been trying to postpone until after the exam period. Disappointed this couldn’t be agreed.”
TCDSU Education Officer Megan O’Connor said the Book of Kells and tourists were “taking priority over students’ exam period again”.
“After everything students have been through this year, the very least @tcddublin could have done is held off the three weeks of the exam period to keep campus for students,” O’Connor said.
From May 10, galleries, museums, libraries and other cultural attractions in Ireland are allowed to reopen.
The government confirmed the date last night as part of measures to gradually lift Covid-19 restrictions.
In Trinity, the upcoming two-week assessment period starts on Monday, May 10.
Real-time online exams and take-home exams are being held between May 10 and 22, with the following week to be used for submitting “essays or other work that replaces a final examination”.
Exams are mostly taking place online with the exception of some clinical and practical assessments that “must take place in person”.
The Library is open for students to pre-book study sessions for shorter hours than during a usual year.
The Berkeley, Ussher, Lecky and Hamilton libraries are open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays from Tuesday, May 4 onwards and are closed on the weekends.
The Book of Kells closed to visitors on September 19 last year after a brief reopening during the summer.
The Old Library, the Book of Kells and the Long Room exhibitions opened for visitors with pre-booked tickets, who were given a timed entry and were not allowed on campus at other times.
Tickets needed to be booked in advance, with a maximum of 25 people per half hour.