Ireland has a very vibrant culture. It is the home of Celtic art and mythology, which are still revered and studied to this day; it is also a stronghold of Christianity with the Church exerting strong influence over its politics and society. With such a strong undercurrent of religion and philosophy, myth and legend, it is no wonder that the country has a unique artistic tradition—which is showcased in the Chester Beatty Library in County Dublin. The Library has two permanent exhibitions: 'Sacred Traditions' and 'Artistic Traditions'. The 'Sacred Traditions' Gallery displays important sacred texts, illuminated manuscripts and miniature paintings representative of the world’s great religions and belief systems. The biggest collections are from Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, but there are smaller displays on Confucianism, Daoism, Sikhism and Jainism. One of the key features of the collection is the Biblical Papyri, an impressive collection of Qur'an manuscripts and scrolls and books of Buddhist thought. The Library also has audio-visual programmes on Rites of Passage of many faiths, the different kinds of prayer, and photos and explanations of various pilgrimages. The 'Artistic Traditions' gallery holds art works rendered on paper; the techniques of print-making, binding and paper-making; and the art of miniature painting. It is complemented with a collection of rare books and decorative arts, some of them from East Asia. The Chester Beatty library is an example of the excellent historical and cultural sites that are often neglected by commercial tours. To visit the library (and other sites like it) it is important to hire a car. Hiring a car gives you the freedom and flexibility to visit both major tourist destinations and small but equally significant sites such as this. To arrange a driving vacation through Ireland, you can rent a car at the many car hire agencies located within airports or major cities. Car hire agencies can also help you customize your tour, providing maps of the regions and a list of attractions in the area. You can also ask your car hire agency for a list of inns and hotels where you can rest between car travels, or use as a base for exploring the county.
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