I spent most of today in Dublin's Central Catholic Library, doing some extra research for my saints book. It really is a treasure. It's in a beautiful Georgian house at 74 Merrion Square, and the furnishings are particularly elegant and tasteful-- dark brown wood, decorated tiles underfoot, holy statues and cruficixes on the walls.
The collection is a treasure, too. It's such a strange feeling to survey shelves upon shelves of books, most of which are pious and Catholic. It's like standing on an island of friendly ground amidst enemy territory. One really gets a sense of the oceanic depth of our Catholic tradition.
Hardly anybody uses it. I've spent hours upon hours taking notes at the long wood table, listening to the ticking of the clock echo in the empty reading room, hearing the sound of voices and traffic drift in from the square outside. Very peaceful, but more people should use it. (And even if a lot more people did use it, it would still be very peaceful.)
Join the Central Catholic Library! Use the Central Catholic Library!