Kells & District Tourism Forum

Tourism News from the Home of the Book of Kells


Kells Lecture SeriesThis talk outlines the process of nominating sites to the World Heritage List, examining the various requirements that must be in place before a site can be inscribed.

The Kells Monastic site is on the Tentative List of World Heritage Sites for Ireland.

It is an example of a serial site and one of six monastic sites in Ireland being put forward for inscription.

Issues concerning the implications of World Heritage nomination will be explored, looking at other examples from the Irish context.

Free of charge, donations only.

Venue: St. Columba’s Church Hall, Kells, Co. Meath

Refreshments served.

Queries to 087 706 4421 / 085 270 5675





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.


Duncan Stewart takes to the streets of Kells with the new Kells Heritage Audio Guide on April 23rd – a perfect blend of technology and storytelling.


Duncan Stewart Launches Audio Guide

Kells & District Tourism Forum will formally enter the digital age when it launches a mobile audio guide on Wednesday next April 23rd as part of its plans to make the rich history of the Town more accessible to visitors.

The new audio application for digital devices, which has been created by Abarta Guides’ mobile technology, will be launched by TV Presenter and leading environmentalist Duncan Stewart.

The event will get underway at 3:00 p.m. at the Market Cross with a walk to the Headfort Arms Hotel where the formal launch will get take place.

The formalities will be completed at the Butterfly Café in Bective Square where a presentation will be made.

Kells Tourism Forum vice –Chairman Hubert Morris said: “The town of Kells joins an elite group of tourist destinations all over the world by the use of innovative technology. This app gives visitors the opportunity to experience Kells from a different angle.”

The audio guide will introduce visitors to Kells’ extraordinary history and will tell the story of how it developed from an important monastic settlement founded by St. Colmcille in the sixth century.

It will tell the story of how the world famous Book of Kells was completed in the ninth century and how the medieval market town for Norman settlers has evolved into the busy commercial centre that it is today.

The audio story begins at the Old Courthouse and will lead the listener around Kells via the Market Cross, St. John’s Cemetery, The Town Hall, the Monastic Site and Bective Square!

Available on the iPhone / Android platforms, the 40-minute Kells Heritage Audio Guide is voiced by professional actress Niamh Shaw and is packed with original music by talented Westmeath musician Enda Seery.

The guide is broken into twelve ‘tracks’ with each one representing a particular place or feature in Kells in a way that is easily accessible and fun.

Lucy O’Reilly, the Chairperson of Kells and District Tourist Forum added: “Our visitors today are very pedestrian and are most engaging with the streets and the people on them.

“Kells & District Tourism Forum’s commitment to digital marketing stands firm as we continue to present the Town through digital and social media platforms including guides like this one. We think it is a perfect blend of technology and storytelling.”

The Kells Heritage Audio Guide can be downloaded from and can be downloaded to a computer, mp3 player or smartphone.

The guide is also available as an audio-visual app with images and maps for iPhone.

Download the free Guidigo app, then select the ‘Kells Heritage Town’ guide to download. An Android version is currently in development.

More information can be had from dialling 087-706-4421 or email:


Williamstown, House & Townlands – with Dr. Liam McNiffe

Kells Lecture SeriesThe first house in Kells to have electricity, the 18th century Williamstown House was originally the home of the Cuffe family. The house has been empty since the 1970s and is slowly decaying into a ruin.

Dr. McNiffe takes us through a fascinating history of the house, families who lived there, and the townlands surrounding it.

About the Speaker: Dr. Liam McNiffe, Author and Historian, has published a book called “A History of Williamstown, Kells” which is available in paperback.  He has recently retired as the principal of St. Patrick’s College, Cavan.

Venue: St. Columba’s Church Hall, Kells, Co. Meath

Refreshments served.

€5 per person, book here or pay at the door.

Queries to 087 706 4421 / 085 270 5675

Williamstown House


The Boyne Valley Conference

Over 250 delegates attended the Inaugural Boyne Valley Tourism Conference in the City North Hotel.  

An exhibition of 50 Tourism Provider businesses ran alongside the Conference.

Kells Tourism Forum Stand at Boyne Valley ConferenceThe two-day event culminated in a ‘Boyne Appetit’ Gala dinner in the evening in the hotel, showcasing foods from providers in the Boyne Valley.

For photographs see Discover Boyne Valley and Kells Tourism Forum facebook pages.








Kells & District Tourism Forum wins award at the Kells Chamber Ball

More than 170 guests packed the local Headfort Arms Hotel on Saturday night for the Kells Chamber of Commerce President’s Ball and Business Awards.

The highly successful annual black-tie event was addressed by the new IFA president, Slane man Eddie Downey, who was the guest speaker.

The occasion also saw local business people receiving the prestigious Kells Business Awards for their contribution to commercial life in the town.

A special contribution award was presented to Kells & District Tourism Forum to acknowledge all its voluntary work, and was accepted by Lucy O’Reilly, chairperson of the group.

Kells Chamber Ball

For more photographs please visit our facebook page.



The Field Names of County Meath – with Joan Mullen & John McCullen – 23rd February 2014 at Rockfield House

Field Names of MeathDue to changing farming and ownership patterns in rural Meath, the need to record the field names, folklore and features of our fields has become a matter of urgency. Much of the information is being carried in folk memory and is at risk because of the diminishing population of farmers and rural dwellers.

Developments such as motorways, field amalgamations and modern farming practices are also bringing huge changes to the rural landscape of Meath.  Old field names and valuable local history is easily lost with all this change process. The County of Meath has always been renowned for its rich heritage and history.

The idea of collecting all the field names in Meath originated with a small group of people. This group took local soundings, canvassed interest, organised a meeting and set up a group of people from varying backgrounds and locations in the county to oversee the project.  The Meath Field Names Survey Team decided to call the project management group ‘The Steering Group’.

This lecture shared this process with the audience, and future ambitions of the project.  Photos here.


Kells & District Tourism Forum

Notice of Annual General Meeting

Notice is hereby given that the 2014 annual general meeting of the Forum will be held at The Blackwater Suite, Headfort Arms Hotel on 27th January 2014 at 8:00 p.m. for the following purposes:

  1. To receive the report of the directors and the accounts for the year ended 2013.
  2. To re-elect officers
  3. To consider and, if thought fit, pass the following resolution which will be proposed as a special resolution:

‘THAT the meeting times be changed from weekly to monthly (on a Wednesday evening) and that the Executive Committee shall hold a weekly meeting.

‘THAT members are deemed members only when membership fees are paid.

By order of the board

Dated 1st January 2014

Registered Office

A member entitled to attend and vote at the meeting is entitled to appoint a proxy to vote, and attend, instead of him. A proxy need not be a member of the forum.


Breaking the Silence: The Poets of North Meath & the Famine” by Danny Cusack – In our first lecture of 2014, on Wednesday, January 15th, Danny Cusack discusses this paper that was included in Ríocht na Midhe: journal of the Meath Archaelogical and Historical Society (2007).


Photos of Kells taken from the 21st December 2013 to the 22nd December 2013 – for those of you who can’t make it home for the holiday season!


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