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St. Colmcille's House Oratory
 

County

Meath

Coordinates

N 53° 43' 41.4"   W 006° 52' 51.1"

Nearest town

Kells

Grid Ref.

N 73916 75953

Map No.

42

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

97

Date of visit

Wednesday 25 May 2011

GPS Accuracy (m)

6
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The St. Columba Oratory from the outside.


This small building with a very steep roof is said that once kept the relics of St. Columba, or Colmcille, that lived on the island of Iona in Scotland and that moved to Kells in 560 when Diarmuid MacCarroll, High King of Ireland, granted him the mound of Ceannanus (Kells).
The whole Columban community moved to Kells from Iona to escape the Norse raidings.
Among the many relics that was housed in this oratory there was the worldwide known Book of Kells. The composition of this precious book was begun on the island of Iona, but after the first raids of the Vikings the community and the book were moved here, where the book was completed. Unfortunately, two centuries later the book was stolen, its cover was ripped off and the book was thrown in a muddy ditch where it was found two months later. The cover was never found, but it seems it was preciously adorned with gold and gems.
The inside of the oratory is plain and simple. The ceiling is very high. There's a steep iron ladder that leads to a passage in the ceiling. From this passage one can access the three small rooms under the roof where the monks would rest and probably live.
The access to the oratory is padlocked, the key can be obtained from Mrs. Carpenter who lives down the lane.
Some of the photos of the oratory were taken from the windows on the upper floor of the nearby Garda Station.


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