Sell the Kells

Fossil Free TCD’s tongue-in-cheek petition provides a novel way to draw attention to Trinity’s decision on divestment this November


“Hi, would you be interested in signing our petition towards selling the Book of Kells?”

It is in no way unusual to be approached by whichever group or society have claimed the tables on the first floor of the Arts Block to promote a campaign; ticket sales for the latest mystery tour for instance, or even a good old-fashioned DU Players bake-sale.

This week, however, provided something that bit different from the norm. With undeniable scope for raised eyebrows, the pitch of the day was the sale of the Book of Kells, Trinity’s cultural treasure. Or at least so it originally seemed.

Donning a large placard reading “Sell the Kells”, students approached the inhabitants of the Arts Block and began to introduce their platform.

“We’re looking for people to sign a petition to sell the Book of Kells”, they enthused. “We think that it’d be a great opportunity for college to raise some more funds that could be invested into fossil fuels.”

They went on to explain that Trinity “only” has about 6 million invested into fossils fuels at the moment and with the Book of Kells worth between 50 and 100 million, surely this would be an ideal opportunity to earn some more money for the college.

“It shouldn’t be too difficult, I think we still have the receipt for the book somewhere. We can just bring it back to Easons”. It was from this point it became apparent that something deeper was at play here. 

The bold sales pitch became even more brazen in nature as they proceeded to outline the effect this mass investment would have on the environment; with fossil fuels making a large contribution to global warming, this hefty investment would further contribute to the damage done to our ozone layer. “With water levels rising rapidly, this absolutely might put some island nations underwater. I think that would help us attract more international students, definitely”.

Understandably, many students responded to this outrageous proposal with undisguised anger, outlining the various reasons why they did not agree with Trinity investing in the fossils fuels industry. Little did they know that they were actually speaking to members of Fossil Free TCD, the very group working tirelessly to pressure Trinity into freezing any new investments into the industry and divesting the 6m already invested within the next five years.

On the other side of the “Sell the Kells” placard worn by Fossil Free members was written “Divest Now”, and thus the true purpose of today’s endeavours were revealed. In an attempt to increase awareness amongst students of the Fossil Free TCD campaign, the group hoped that the absurdity of their proposal today would reinforce the importance of Trinity divesting from fossil fuels in the near future.

Speaking to Fossil Free members Cillian Crosson and Catherine Hearne, they explained that some students they’d met today hadn’t heard of the campaign before now. It felt important to them to “keep momentum going”, by both informing new students and reignite the spirits of those already in the know. On November 15, the campaign group find out if Trinity will opt to divest from fossil fuels and are still looking to build upon their petition towards the issue.

Over 100 people signed the Fossil Free petition today, with reportedly no one disappointed that could they not, alas, support the sale of the Book of Kells after all. These names will be added to the online petition of over 1,600 people already in existence.

Fossil Free TCD had their first meeting of this academic year a few week ago, with about 40 people in attendance. The campaign had already succeeded in attracting much attention across campus, and following yesterday’s creative ventures, will likely continue to build upon their support right up the official outcome of Trinity Finance Committee’s report.