Returning Columba is cloaked in history!

The cloak work by St Columba
The cloak work by St Columba

St Columba is returning to Derry - for a special one-off appearance.

The Columba Community of Prayer and Reconciliation has organised a pageant at the Guildhall on Thursday to mark their 30th anniversary.

And St Columba - alias actor Shaun Coyle - complete with a cloak worthy of the great man himself, will be taking centre stage.

The cloak was made by designer Mary O’Donnell who says it is exactly what columba would have worn.

“The wool in the cloak is hand-spun and the wool edging is made from black sheep and it was given its green colouring from a dying process using lichen from rocks,” she says.

The ‘Columba Then and Now’ pageant is being held on Thursday from 4-6pm in Guildhall Square.

It will depict aspects of Columba’s life from his legendary battle with the Loch Ness monster to his missionary work in Iona.

It is a collaboration between the Columba Community, the Playhouse Theatre and the University of Ulster choir, who will bring over 200 local schoolchildren and local actors to the stage.

Director of the Columba Community Fr Neal Carlin said: “For many years we have neglected to pay tribute to a great patron and found of this city.

“Columba was the first of the great pilgrim monks to leave Ireland and evangelise Britain and Europe during the golden age of Ireland in the sixth to ninth centuries.

“In him we have a common Christian heritage and as Roman Catholic, Celtic Irish, Presbyterian, Celtic Scottish or from the Anglican traditional we owe a great deal to vibrant Christian monastic tradition which once earned us the title of the Island of Saints and Scholars.”

The pageant’s director Mary Murphy said working with such creative people was a privilege.

“There is something so appropriate about producing a pageant based on the life of Columba: our foundational saint,” she said.

“A sixth century man, he is also a man for our times: a poet, a saint, an academic; a man who, through pride and arrogance, was instrumental in engendering a war, but was also capable of experiencing devastating remorse.

Pauline Ross, director of the Playhouse Theatre, paid tribute to the schools taking part in the pageant, ‘’It will be great to see such a cross-community event taking centre stage in the city,’ she said.