Tourism News from the Home of the Book of Kells
The people of Kells are to celebrate the legacy of Saint Columcille in 2014 and pay homage to the founder of the north Meath Town.
A ‘Kells 1200’ committee has been set up comprising of the Church of Ireland, the Catholic Church, Kells Town Council, Kells Archaeological & Historical Society, Kells & District Tourism Forum, Kells Silver Band, Kells Local Heroes, Kells Chamber, Craobh Cholmcille de Chonradh na Gaeilge and Denis McCarthy.
Other noted bodies from Derry, Iona and relevant universities will be invited on board to help plan events.
During the year many events will take place including a weekend of ecumenical services, lectures, readings, tours, workshops, music and other events, which will take place from Friday 6th June – Sunday 8th June, culminating on the eve of Columcille’s Feast Day of June 9th.
2014 will mark the 1,200th anniversary of the re-establishment of the monastery in Kells and the building of the great stone church by the monks of Columcille in 814 who had fled some years previously from the isle of Iona, due to increased raids by the Norsemen.
The importance of one of Ireland’s patron saints, Columcille, also known as Columba, in both Ireland and Europe was a Christian of noted significance.
In the troubled and often violent Dark Ages in Northern Europe, left bereft in the wake of the retreating Roman armies, monasteries served as centres of learning, sanctuary, inns and orphanages.
The light of civilisation might have gone out altogether in Europe had it not been for the monasteries.
Columcille/Columba was foremost in the monastic tradition, the building of monasteries and the spread of learning.
Columcille founded monasteries in Kells and Derry amongst others in his native Ireland, and eventually the island monastery of Iona off the coast of Scotland, which succeeded in becoming the head monastery of his monasteries in both countries, and became the most famous religious house in Scotland.
The noted English historian St. Bede says that Columba/Columcille led many to Christianity by his “preaching and example.” He was much admired for his physical as well as spiritual prowess.
He was a strict ascetic and remained physically vigorous and unflagging in his missionary and pastoral journeys throughout his seventy-six years of life.
The memory of Columba lives on in Iona, Scotland and in Derry, which recently celebrated Columcille as part of its year as the European City of Culture in 2013.
Such is the importance of Kells and its contribution to Christianity that the Town is currently on UNESCO’s tentative list as a World Heritage Site.