It’s not very often that I have an extra hour to spare in Kells anymore. As I’m living abroad, it’s always a case of cramming as much as possible into the short amount of time I get at home.
This time, however, I was at home on a weekday, a Friday. My Mum had arranged to meet her friend for lunch at midday and my Dad was free at 1pm, leaving me with a whole hour to myself. I decided I’d do something I’ve been meaning to for quite a while but never got round to it.
Taking photos in St Columba’s Churchyard, Kells
Every time I go to Kells, I’ve been meaning to pop into St. Columba’s Churchyard to take some photos. To be honest, even though you have to go past the church on the way to my parents’ house, I haven’t been in there in years. Thinking back, I guess the last time that I was in the churchyard was possibly while I was in school.
There’s so much history in the area. St Columba’s Church was built in 1778 and stands on the site of the original monastery in Kells.
An earlier church stood to before the current one. All that’s left of that is the bell tower at the back. Just the far side of the church walls to the north is St Colmcille’s house, a little stone house where monks probably lived.
In the grounds of the church, stands a Round Tower and five celtic crosses. These are probably from 10/11th century. The Round Tower is unusual, there are five windows on its sides. At school, we learned that this was because Kells had five major roads leaving the settlement and these acted as a watchout spot.
Most of you will have heard of the Book of Kells. It was started in Iona in Scotland and brought to Kells for safekeeping when the vikings attacked. It was probably in that Round Tower on more than one occasion. Anyway the book may have been completed in our lovely little local town but it was eventually stolen and was later found in a bog in Oristown with the gold edges cut off.
History being history means that wasn’t enough for the book. Henry Jones, who was head of intelligence for Oliver Cromwell’s army, was made vice-chancellor of Trinity College. He took the book to it’s current location and without him, millions of people would never have seen the Book of Kells.
I need to visit St Columba’s Churchyard again
I was happy enough with some of the photos I took that day. It was winter, it was very cold. The ground was very uneven and in some places you could see that it had dramatically sank underneath the headstones.
Even though the churchyard is in the middle of Kells, I was very aware that if I slipped on the wet grass or if ground gave way, I could be lying there in a heap for ages. I really didn’t want to fall and hit my head. So, even though I managed to have a nice hour in St Columba’s Churchyard, I really need to visit again, when it’s dry and bright and maybe bring someone with me, just to be on a safe side.