Saints and Stones: Kells

Kells (Cenannus in Gaelic) was the chief of the Irish Columban monasteries. It was founded most probably in 554 A.D., that is nine years before Columba founded Iona, and during the saint's life was eclipsed by the greater fame of the latter monastery.

Kells still contains several ancient monuments which tradition closely connects with Columba's residence there. Of these the most interesting is Columba's House, a tall high-pitched building. There are also many high crosses dating probably from the 9th Century. A few are, however, unfinished. There is also a round tower still ninety feet high built during the Danish wars to protect the church and monastery. The Book of Kells, which legend attributed to the pen of Columcille himself, was preserved in Kells until it was stolen in 1006.

Kells and Iona were always closely connected. Shortly after the burning of Iona by the Danes in 802 A.D., the monks retreated to Kells. During the next two centuries, Kells became a great school of learning and art, and continued to flourish in spite of the frequent ravages of the Danes.

About Kells

Irish Antiquities: Kells Monastic Site
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: School of Kells
Wikipedia: Abbey of Kells
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Columba
Wikipedia: Columba

Journey to Kells

Kells is in County Meath on the N3, 10 miles from Navan and 40 miles north of Dublin.

Map Reference: N740759

Visitors Information

Visitors information may be found at the website. General tourist information may be found on the County Meath Tourism website.

Additional Photos of Kells

High Cross Near Kells Visitor Center
Reader Board at St. Columba's Church at Kells
Unfinished High Cross and Round Tower at Kells
Unfinished High Cross at Kells
South Cross at Kells
90 Foot Round Tower at Kells
St. Columba's House at Kells

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