Plans to celebrate 1,500th anniversary of St Columba

St Columba at the foot of the cross. Calvary scene, Long Tower Church. Photo � Kenneth Allen (cc-by-sa/2.0)
St Columba at the foot of the cross. Calvary scene, Long Tower Church. Photo � Kenneth Allen (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Plans to mark the 1,500th anniversary of the birth of St. Columba (Colmcille) in 2020/21 will be discussed during free public meetings in Derry and Donegal next week.

The findings of a recently completed Columban Heritage Audit will also be discussed at the meetings.

A native of Gartan in Donegal, St. Columba is widely regarded as Derry’s patron saint and is said to have established the monastic settlement in the Long Tower area which eventually became the city of Derry. He was born in 520 or 521 and there are many local sites associated with him throughout the north west region and further afield. In 545, he founded his first monastery in Doire Cholm Cille and in 563 set sail with 12 monks from Derry to the island of Iona in Scotland where he died in 597.

The first meetings will he held at the Colm Cille 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.

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.

Aeidin McCarter, Head of Culture at Derry and Strabane Council, said 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,” she said. “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.”

Margaret Edwards, Heritage Officer at Derry and Strabane Council, said 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.

Presentations at both meetings will be delivered by Neil Jackman, Managing Director of Abarta Heritage, and Dr. Brian Lacey, author of ‘Saint Columba: His Life and Legacy.’

To book a place at the meetings, telephone 028 71376510 or email: guildhall@derrystrabane.com