Free talk to start St Columb’s College’s Columban celebrations in Derry

Dr Stephen Kelly, Subject Lead for English at Queen’s University Belfast, will headline St. Columb’s College’s inaugural event in a year of celebration to commemorate the 1,500th anniversary of the birth of St. Columba.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4:44 pm

Columba is a figure as multi-faceted as his names are numerous: be it Columba, Colmcille or Columb and this year, 2021, marks the 1,500th anniversary of the birth of one of the patron saints of the island.

Columba, a prolific founder of monasteries, is credited with founding the city of Derry upon the rocks that mark where Long Tower Church stands today.

However he is also someone who exhibited the courage of his convictions in stories as wide ranging as confronting Pictish tribes in modern-day Scotland to immersing himself in transcription and the reproduction of manuscripts.

A sculpture of St Columba at the entrance to St Columb’s College Derry, created by Alumni Maurice Harron. DER2320GS - 001

A spokesperson for St Columb’s College said: “With Columba as our patron, St. Columb’s College will stage a year of celebration in honour of the momentous anniversary of Columba’s birth. A Mass, celebrated by Bishop McKeown, on June 9, 2021 marked the start of this year of celebration that will culminate on June 9, 2022.

“The celebrations will entail the celebrating of Columba in his totality; from Columba the scholar to Columba the seafarer to Columba the warrior, to name but a few.”

Local people are invited to the inaugural event on Friday October 22 at 8:15pm in St. Eugene’s Cathedral Church Hall, Infirmary Road.

Dr Stephen Kelly, a past pupil and recipient of the Queen’s University Student Union Award for most Inspiring/motivating’ teacher in both 2016 and in 2019, will be delivering a talk titled: ‘Calves and Kindles’: St Columba and the History of the Book.

Dr. Kelly, who is the author of the upcoming ‘Imagining History in Medieval Britain’, as well as co-editor of ‘‘Betwixt and Between: Place and Cultural Translation (2007)’ and ‘Imagining the Book (2005)’, will examine the questions: Can it be true that St. Columba left Ireland over a book? Why was the act of copying St Finnian’s Psalter such an affront? What was a Psalter anyway, and how did it come to represent such a powerful instrument of cultural prestige and political authority?

This talk will situate the Cathach of St Columba within the context of late classical and medieval ‘book culture’. It will argue that the book is the most significant technological innovation in Western culture, while also suggesting that the book and its metaphors continue, even in a digital age, to shape profoundly our understanding of memory, history – and ourselves.

This inaugural event of a year of St. Columb’s College’s Columba celebrations is open to all people of all ages all are welcome.

The event is free but people are asked to email: [email protected] to confirm your attendance.

Tea and refreshments will be provided after the talk.