Take a closer look at Google’s stunning Saint Patrick’s Day Doodle

Take a closer look at Google’s stunning Saint Patrick’s Day Doodle

Inspired by one of Ireland’s most famous ancient manuscripts Google’s 2012 Saint Patrick’s Day Doodle is simply stunning (View a high resolution version of the logo).

This year’s Doodle is modelled after the 800/1000 year old Book of Kells, housed in Dublin’s Trinity College.  Although synonymous with Ireland the book was probably authored, at least partially, on Iona, a small island off the cost of Scotland.  The story goes that after Viking raids on the island the book was taken from the island for safekeeping, and perhaps completion, in the Monastery of Kells in County Meath, Ireland.

Google's 2012 Saint Patrick's Day Doodle. Click for larger view.

Google's 2012 Saint Patrick's Day Doodle. Click the image for a larger view.

Book of Kells' Chi Rho Monogram

Book of Kells' Chi Rho Monogram. Click the image for a larger view.

Although called The Books of Kells the manuscript consists of four books, of each of the Christian Gospels.  Two of the books are always on display in Trinity College, one of which is opened to show the intricate illuminations.

Google’s Doodle also borrows heavily from other similar illuminated manuscripts, such as the Book of Durrow, also housed in Trinity College, Dublin, and the Book of Lindisfarne, housed in the British Library.

Analysis of the Book of Kells’ illustrative style (called Insular art) shows that there were at least three scribes worked on its design.

Google Paddy’s Day Doodle seems to have been particularly influenced by the most famous page of the Chi Rho Monogram.

[Update 18 March 2012]

Saint Patrick's Day 2012 Google Doodle knot detail

Saint Patrick's Day 2012 Google Doodle knot detail. Click image for larger view.

Google Doodler Jennifer Hom (@jhomnomnom | Tumblr), who created this year’s Paddy’s Day Doodle has released more information about its creation.  Writing on the Google Doodle site Jennifer describes how to she did indeed use the Book of Kells’ Chi Rho page to inspire the Doodle.

She also shows the extraordinary detail with which she created the Doodle,

In the post Jennifer also shows off this early sketch of the logo.

Saint Patrick's Day 2012 Google Doodle sketch

Saint Patrick's Day 2012 Google Doodle sketch. Click image for larger view.

And the nearly completed doodle.

Saint Patrick's Day 2012 Google Doodle early version

Saint Patrick's Day 2012 Google Doodle early version. Click for larger version.

Understandably Jennifer says that recreating the style of the Chi Rho page in all its detail was no simple task, even with the help of modern technology;

St. Patrick’s Day deserved a logo that examines the meditative aesthetic of its people. Perhaps it was due to prolonged sessions of staring at the Book of Kells, but the Celtic knots and swirls seemed to come alive while I worked. It was clear that, despite its age, the drawings were as vibrant and mesmerizing as they must have appeared centuries ago. Having worked with such intimidating reference, it’s easy to appreciate the richness of Irish culture.


Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).

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