Colmcille heritage celebrated in Christ Church Cathedral

The heritage of Colmcille or Columba was celebrated at a special event in the Music Room in Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday 8 June, the eve of the Feast of Colmcille. 2020-21 will be the 1500th anniversary of Colmcille’s birth, and the night gave a taste in Irish and in English of that heritage internationally and in Dublin itself.

Colmcille is a partnership programme between Foras na Gaeilge and Bòrd na Gàidhlig, which promotes the use of Irish and Scottish Gaelic in Ireland and in Scotland and between the two countries. Foras na Gaeilge organised the event in conjunction with Údarás na Gaeltachta, Donegal County Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council, and Oideas Gael, and as part of the Colmcille partnership programme between Foras na Gaeilge and Bòrd na Gaeilge in Scotland.

Foras na Gaeilge chief executive, Seán Ó Coinn, said, “Tonight, the 8 June, is the eve of the Feast of Saint Colmcille or Columba. He died in Iona in Scotland on 9 June. Ever since people have been commemorating Colmcille. At midnight tonight people will be walking and praying on the Colmcille pilgrimage in Gleann Cholm Cille and in Gartan. There will be celebration in many places in Donegal and in Colmcille’s beloved Derry. There no figure in history that better reveals the links between the Irish language community in Ireland and the Scottish Gaelic community in Scotland, as well as our shared heritage.

This event tonight is being organised by Foras na Gaeilge, conjunction with Bòrd na Gaeilge in Scotland, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Donegal County Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council, and Oideas Gael. I would like to thank all these, and their representatives here tonight. I would especially like to thank the dean and board of Christ Church Cathedral for providing us this historic venue which has a link to Colmcille, and Canon Gary Hastings for kindly welcoming us. I would like to particularly thank Dr Brian Lacey who has done so much to bring to light the history and legacy of Saint Colmcille for much more than twenty years, Gearóidín Bhreathnach, the storyteller and singer from Rann na Feirste, and Dr Ann Buckley from Trinity College and the singers from Amra Schola who we will hear tonight.”


Note to the editor on the programme for the evening

  1. Why Celebrate the Birth of Colmcille? Dr Brian Lacey

2020-21 will see the 1500th anniversary of the birth of Saint Colmcille. As the ‘dove of the church’ he not only shaped the narratives of the inter-related histories of Ireland, Scotland and the north of England, but he is a symbol for us now at a time of heightened tensions. The cultural legacy accumulated in the saint’s name throughout these islands is immense, most notably in the Book of Kells. Honoured in the various kingdoms of medieval Ireland, Scotland and northern England, there is a substantial Dublin connection with Colmcille. Perhaps the earliest references to the ‘ford of the hurdles’ (Dublin) occurs in his Life, written about AD 700, and an early church dedicated to him may have stood on the hill above that ford, where St Audoen’s Church now stands. The Vikings came to Christianity under the influence of Colmcille’s monks in the Hebrides and it was primarily they who were behind the revival of interest in Colmcille in Dublin and in its Viking-influenced hinterland around the tenth century.


  1. A story and singing from Donegal about Saint Colmcille by the renowned storyteller and singer Gearóidín Bhreathnach from Rann na Feirste.


  1. A selection of chants for the offices of Saint Colmcille, Dr Ann Buckley and Amra Schola. Amra is a European cultural heritage project concerning devotion to Irish saints in the medieval liturgy. Dr Ann Buckley (Medieval History Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin) is the director of Amra. It comprises twenty-three partner institutions across fourteen countries. Its aim is to digitise and make freely available the entire surviving repertory of chant and sacred readings for the Historia, the twenty-four hour cycle of religious ceremonies for the divine office celebrated on a saint’s feast day, and to make this freely available. The singers of the Amra Schola at this event are Andrew Dempsey, Louis O’Carroll, Patrick McGinley and Daithí Ó Nuanáin.



Further Information

Anna Davitt, Programme Manager: Communications, Marketing & Awareness, Foras na Gaeilge

Tel: 0035387 673 6175