In 563 A.D., St. Columba (Columcille) and 12 companions founded the monastery of Iona. It became a renowned monastic school of learning and was mainly responsible for the spread of Christianity throughout much of Scotland and northern England. It was here, it is believed, that the Book of Kells, one of the most famous illuminated manuscripts and now residing at Trinity College in Dublin, was produced in whole or in part. After a series of Viking raids, the monastery was eventually abandoned in the 9th Century. In the early 12th Century, the present abbey and a nunnery were erected to house Benedictine monks and Augustinian nuns. They continued to flourish until the Reformation and fell into ruin. The abbey and many of the other monastic buildings, which may be visited today, were laregly renovated in the 20th Century The nunnery has been left in its ruined stage.
Legend has it that, banned from Ireland for precipitating a conflict that resulted in tousands of deaths, Columcille's penance was to convert the same number as had been killed in the battle, leave Ireland, aqnd move such that he could no longer see his native country. He and companions set sail and in 563 A.D. landed on Iona at the Port of the Corracle (Port a' Churaich) at what is now called St. Columba's Bay. Near the shore, he climbed a hill -- Carn-Cul-ri-Eirinn, the "Hill with It's Back to Ireland -- from which he no longer could see Ireland.
After viewing the Additional Photos of St. Columba's Bay on this page, return to the Saints - Scotland page to view other Iona pages.
Historic Scotland: Iona Abbey and Nunnery
Journey to Iona
Iona is a small island located one mile southwest of the larger Isle of Mull in Argyll and Bute off Scotland's West coast. Iona is accessible only by ferry from Mull, which is accessible by ferry from Oban on the Scottish mainland.
Undiscovered Scotland: Iona Abbey
Undiscovered Scotland: Iona Nunnery
Undiscovered Scotland: Relig Odhráin & St Oran's Chapel
Undiscovered Scotland: Infirmary Museum
Trinity College: The Book of Kells
Ordnance Survey Map (NM2621)
Information on Iona may be found at the Historic Scotland Iona Abbey and Nunnery and Iona Community Council websites. Additional information on Iona and information on Mull may be found on the Welcome to Mull and Iona website. Information on the Oban area may be found at the Visit Oban website. Ferry information may be found on the Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) Ferries website.
Additional Photos of St. Columba's Bay
Approaching St. Columba's Bay
St. Columba's Bay Where the Saint First Landed in 563 A.D.
Another View of St. Columba's Bay
Cairn on Beach Built by Monks as Penance at St. Columba's Bay
Carn-Cul-ri-Eirinn, the "Hill with It's Back to Ireland," near St. Columba's Bay