Saint Colmcille (also known as Columba) was born in Donegal in 520 (or 521).  Before his death in Iona on the 9th June 593 A.D, Colmcille became one of the most influential figures in all Irish and British history.  Colmcille is one of Ireland’s patron saints, a distinction he shares with Patrick and Brigid, and he is the patron saint of Derry.  Colmcille is not only an important figure for Ireland, but as the founder of monasteries in Iona and Scotland, he was a key catalyst for the Christianisation of Northern Britain.

We produced a detailed audit on behalf of Donegal County Council, Derry City & Strabane District Council, Foras na Gaeilge, and supported by The Heritage Council.  The audit is designed to help the councils and local community heritage groups to plan for the commemoration of the 1500th anniversary of the birth Colmcille which will take place in 2020/21.  The audit identifies and maps heritage sites, objects and archives associated with Colmcille and his life.  This ranges from well-known heritage sites to places associated with Colmcille in local folklore and includes objects and archives in national and local repositories.  The audit also contains a set of recommendations and ideas for ways in which Colmcille can be celebrated.

An information evening that discusses the results of the project will be held next week in Donegal and Derry.  The first evening will he held at the Colmcille Heritage Centre in Gartan, Co. Donegal on Tuesday, February 26 and the second at the Guildhall in Derry on Wednesday, February 27.  Both meetings begin at 7pm with light refreshments available from 6.30pm.

“the public meetings will provide people with a great opportunity to learn more about the life of Colmcille and to get involved in the exciting plans. Importantly, Colmcille’s story is a very timely one, which has great symbolism for Derry & Donegal, the country and these islands.  Indeed, Colmcille’s mosaic is featured in the Central Lobby of Westminster, which serves to highlight that he was renowned for uniting traditions, connecting these islands and transcending culture, religion and history in a very special way.”

Aeidin McCarter, Head of Culture at Derry and Strabane Council

“the meetings will provide an opportunity to highlight some of the existing or proposed local initiatives to conserve and promote the built and cultural heritage associated with St. Colmcille, while also giving members of the public the chance to contribute their ideas and suggestions.”

Margaret Edwards, Heritage Officer at Derry and Strabane Council.

Derry City and Strabane District Council have been working closely with Donegal County Council’s Heritage Office, Foras Na Gaeilge and the Heritage Council in the production of the Columban Heritage Audit as a precursor to a shared programme of works and events in 2020/21.  The audit was carried out by Abarta Heritage and will be made available online after the meetings.  Presentations at both meetings will be delivered by Neil Jackman of Abarta Heritage, and Dr. Brian Lacey, author of Saint Columba: His Life and Legacy.

All are very welcome and we hope to see you there!