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Colourful Illuminations Celebrate the 1500th Birthday of Saint Colmcille in Kells Co. Meath  

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St Colmcille's legacy includes the distinctive iconography, artwork  and symbols first evident in the Cathach, a 6th century manuscript and said to have been penned by St. Colmcille himself. It is this magnificent artwork inspired by Colmcille and developed by Columban monks reaching its zenith in the Book of Kells that are central not only to the identity of Kells but of Ireland worldwide.

Join us on a tour and learn more about The Cathach, the Irish manuscript that laid the foundation for Irish Manuscript writing  and the beautiful Book Shrine created by a viking monk in 1092, the inspiration behind the the magnificent Senate Casket commissioned by Senator Alice Stoppford Greene.

Discover how early monastic Kells is connected to creating a visual and national identity in the formation of the new state.

Another reason why this year we are celebrating Comcille's 1500th anniversary!!

Wander through illuminated outdoor spaces blending the 9th century monastic site and contemporary architecture surrounded by the vivid colour of projected imagery. 

Colmcille 1500 Kells Illuminations specially commissioned collection captures the imagination of adults and children alike.
Delivered with humour and storytelling by local guides this is a wonderful family experience and a unique night time event in the Boyne Valley and Ireland's Ancient East.

Let us take you on a tour of Kells following in the footsteps of the monks.

Guided tours  Book Me In

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We begin at the South entrance to Kells to view ‘Arrival’, the image that remembers ‘The Homecoming’, the time when the Columban monks returned from Iona to Kells.

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At the Civic Offices ‘The Exile’ tells of the copying of books, the origin of copyright law and Colmcille’s leaving of Ireland. 

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At St. Colmcille’s House ‘The Scribe’ evokes the long hours of writing and study in cramped and difficult conditions which brought the precious manuscripts to the world.

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At the Round tower ‘Kells of the Kings’ tells a tale of repeated attacks on Kells by Vikings and Celtic tribes alike.

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At the entrance to the monastic site ‘The High Crosses’ reflect the mastery of stone-carving and metal work reached in Kells.

We end our tour at Saint Colmcille’s Well where ‘The Water of Life’ brings us back to the peace of Columba and his inherent spirituality.

Colmcille 1500 Illuminations is part funded by the Irish Walled Towns Network and Heritage Council 'Interpretation and Events Grant Scheme 2021'.